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Apple iPhone 4 vs. iPhone 3GS: side by side

Posted: , by John V.



Apple iPhone 4 vs. iPhone 3GS: side by side
Being plagued with some static noises in the background of our conversations, the iPhone 4's performance in calling quality was only marginally better than the one of the iPhone 3GS. However, our callers did say that our voices on their end sounded a bit better as they were sharper in tone in the beginning of our sentences – which could be attributed with the handset's noise cancellation microphone.

During the year long time we had with the iPhone 3GS, we never really questioned its ability to retain a signal to the network. But upon using the iPhone 4, we were somewhat a little envious of still seeing the iPhone 3GS manhandle the iPhone 4 in this category. At certain times when we glanced over the phones, the iPhone 4 would sometimes show less bars than what we see on the iPhone 3GS – and that's at the same location! Apple has touted that when holding the phone in the correct position, it should be able to provide owners an improved experience in signal strength. However, we still continue to see the iPhone 3GS outperform the newer iPhone 4 in this category.

Just as Steve Jobs commended the phone's ability to provide owners longer battery life with the iPhone 4, we were thoroughly impressed by its real world performance. The iPhone 4 easily beat out the iPhone 3GS as we were able to obtain 1 ½ days of normal usage on the smartphone. Not to be totally outdone by its newer successor, the iPhone 3GS managed to provide us at least a day of usage – which is something more than sufficient for most smartphone users.


If you look closely at what we've gone over, you'll soon realize a consistent theme going on. On the exterior, Apple has retooled the design and look of the iPhone as it continues to present consumers with a top notch product which exudes a high level of construction that's been consistent with previous generations. Yeah, the iPhone 4 is one slim looking smartphone, but we still feel strongly that the iPhone 3GS still retains that same aura of elegance. However, the internals are surely what separates the men from the boys as the iPhone 4 sports some faster, better, and stronger hardware under the hood. The experience of iOS 4 on either handsets is almost identical though – except for the slightly smoother and buttery feel of the platform on the iPhone 4. Nonetheless, the experience on the iPhone 3GS is equally as satisfying seeing that there is still very little to no lag whatsoever to diminish its performance. Media buffs will undoubtedly be surprised by the iPhone 4's camera as it takes some of the most visually stunning images. Throw in 720p video recording and a front facing camera, you've got yourself all the necessities for sharing your favorite content with a mix of people.

Unless you're really intent on taking some decent photos and videos, there is very little reason to upgrade from the iPhone 3GS to the iPhone 4. When it comes down to functionality, both handsets perform equally thanks to iOS 4 – although there is a small, and we mean small, improvement in the speed department for the iPhone 4. Gamers will find the iPhone 4 more humbling seeing that its gyroscope will probably be heavily used in games down the road, but that doesn't mean that the iPhone 3GS can't excel in the graphics department. All in all, the iPhone 4 is a fantastic handset, but unless you're into games, videos, and photos, there really isn't a compelling argument to move up to the iPhone 4. Despite it being garnered as a last generation handset, the iPhone 3GS can still pack a decent punch as its performance and functionality can go toe-to-toe in most situations with the iPhone 4. However, if you still happen to sport either the first-gen iPhone or 3G model, it would be a wise investment in moving up to the iPhone 4 to experience all the new features that not only come along with newer hardware, but software as well with iOS 4 packing on some much wanted features.

Apple iPhone 4 vs. Apple iPhone 3GS Video Comparison:


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posted on 20 Oct 2010, 01:55

1. NOVAinc (Posts: 99; Member since: 24 Jun 2010)

I think a video would be extremely more useful this time, for a side by side performance comparison. But why loose the time with another iPhone? What we really want to see is a proper comparison between the iPhone 4 and the EVO (or the DROID X). You know, performance, camera, OS speed, etc. Even signal reception, I have no problem, I want a fair comparison... All the comparisons we have until now are only commenters with serious fanboysm either for apple or for google (or android)

posted on 29 Jun 2010, 12:01

2. ads496 (Posts: 2; Member since: 08 Dec 2009)

No big difference except the design and camera.

posted on 29 Jun 2010, 12:30

3. ace1122 (Posts: 237; Member since: 23 Mar 2009)

But that's no surprise.

posted on 29 Jun 2010, 12:59

4. Mark3 (Posts: 12; Member since: 10 Dec 2009)

You are forgetting the new display, and... well, nothing else.

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 01:04

5. RORYREVOLUTION (Posts: 3117; Member since: 12 Jan 2010)

Thank god they had captions on the photos with the iphone 3GS and iphone 4, I wouldn't have been able to tell them apart lol

posted on 19 Jul 2010, 12:41

6. nimo (Posts: 72; Member since: 11 Jun 2010)

I just got a free 3 GS on upgrade, Ebay here i come :-)

posted on 29 Sep 2010, 17:13

7. Simo (unregistered)

3GS is easy and pleasing to hold in your palm. One can not say that for 4.Big mistake in design.

posted on 07 Nov 2010, 22:41

8. bing j (unregistered)

i been using my 3gs for over a year now and you are very much correct, the 3gs can still hold water beside a iPhone4 and it feels more elegant to hold. Robyrevolution nailed it right- their photos are almost indistinguishable.. If i need serious photos and vids i wil use my EOS instead since i bought my 3gs first and foremost as a phone (i suppose thats why they called it iPhone and not iCamera) and in the phone signal department, the 3gs simply demolished the iPhone4.

posted on 22 Nov 2010, 05:49

9. Donnie (unregistered)

iPhone 3GS FTW! definitely more worth it. I used to condemn the 3GS when it first came out, criticising its lack of new features over the 3G. But now, the price is SUPER low. Without contract, you can get it really cheap now. Don't get me started on second hand pricing.
Only things I would find worthy of noting on the iPhone 4, are the 5mp camera with HD recording. But after a jailbreak, my 3GS is perfectly capable of 720p HD recording at 30fps too.
iPhone 4, feels really fragile. My mate plonked it onto his coffe table, and we couldnt hear the loud crack. When he lifted it up, there was a MASSIVE crack with a chip fallen out the back. my 3GS on the other hand, i have literally thrown it against a wall, and nothing really happened; cept fr minor scratches.
Reasons to upgrade from 3GS to 4: 5mp camera, and LED flash.

posted on 18 Sep 2011, 00:09

10. widi (unregistered)

hey @Donnie, but Throwing it is not the primary function.. LOL

posted on 27 Jan 2014, 22:43

11. IphoneGuy52 (Posts: 1; Member since: 27 Jan 2014)

wow, I bet you guys feel stupid now for saying bad things about the Iphone 4. Its what like 4 years later and all the new IPhones (exept the 5c) has been made like the Iphone 4. If the design was so bad then why would apple keep useing it. Also the Iphone 4 is way better than the 3Gs it can actually get IOS 7. And the screen is better the chips in it are better it has flash a better camera and a front camera the crappy old 3gs dosent have any of that.

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