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MP4 vs. 3GP: What's the Difference?

By Janet White || Published on December 9, 2023
MP4 is a digital multimedia format offering high-quality video and audio, while 3GP is a simplified, lower-quality format optimized for mobile devices.

Key Differences

MP4 is a digital multimedia container format most commonly used to store video and audio, but it can also be used to store other data such as subtitles and still images. In contrast, 3GP is a multimedia container format used for 3G UMTS multimedia services. It is a simplified version of the MP4 format designed to decrease storage and bandwidth requirements to accommodate mobile phones.
MP4, based on the ISO base media file format, is universally compatible with various devices and media players. It's known for its high-quality video and audio playback. On the other hand, 3GP was developed to conserve storage and bandwidth on 3G mobile phones. It achieves this by significantly compressing the file, which leads to a noticeable reduction in quality compared to MP4.
The MP4 format supports a wide range of codecs, including H.264 and AAC, allowing for high-resolution video and better sound quality. Conversely, 3GP typically uses older, more compressed codecs like H.263 for video and AMR-NB for audio, which results in lower resolution and audio quality but smaller file sizes suitable for mobile networks.
MP4 files are versatile and widely accepted on various platforms, including social media, making them ideal for sharing and streaming. In contrast, 3GP files, due to their lower quality, are primarily used for personal videos on mobile devices and are not commonly used for professional media content distribution.
In terms of editing and compatibility, MP4 files are more flexible and can be easily edited using most video editing software. 3GP files, while smaller and more mobile-friendly, might require conversion before editing or playback on standard video software or devices.

Comparison Chart


Broad, including web, media players, and TVs
Primarily for mobile phones

Video Quality

High, supports HD and 4K
Lower, optimized for small screens

Audio Quality

High, supports advanced codecs
Lower, uses basic codecs

File Size

Larger, due to higher quality
Smaller, due to lower quality and compression


Wide compatibility with devices and software
Limited, mainly compatible with mobile phones

MP4 and 3GP Definitions


MP4 supports streaming over the internet.
We'll stream the event live in MP4 format for online viewers.


3GP is a multimedia container format designed for mobile phones.
I recorded the video in 3GP format to save space on my phone.


MP4 is known for its high compression and quality, maintaining clarity in both audio and video.
For our presentation, let's use an MP4 file to ensure clear visuals and sound.


3GP files are smaller and require less bandwidth.
Sending the 3GP file via email was fast due to its small size.


MP4 files can store other data like subtitles and still images.
This MP4 file includes subtitles in three languages.


3GP features lower resolution and audio quality, optimized for 3G networks.
The 3GP video is perfect for quick mobile uploads due to its small size.


MP4 is a digital multimedia format for storing video and audio.
I downloaded the movie in MP4 format for better quality.


3GP is used for mobile-friendly video content.
We should convert the clip to 3GP for easier mobile distribution.


MP4 is compatible with a wide range of devices and software.
The MP4 video played seamlessly on both my phone and laptop.


3GP offers basic video and audio playback features for mobile devices.
The phone only supports basic 3GP videos, so don't expect high quality.


What is 3GP?

3GP is a multimedia container format primarily used for mobile videos.

Can 3GP files be played on all devices?

3GP files are best suited for mobile devices and may require conversion for other devices.

What is MP4?

MP4 is a digital multimedia container format commonly used for storing video and audio.

Is MP4 suitable for online streaming?

Yes, MP4 is widely used for online streaming due to its high quality.

How does MP4 differ in quality from 3GP?

MP4 offers higher video and audio quality compared to the more compressed 3GP.

Are MP4 files larger than 3GP files?

Yes, MP4 files are generally larger due to higher quality content.

Can MP4 files store subtitles?

Yes, MP4 can store additional data like subtitles and images.

Can 3GP handle advanced audio codecs?

3GP typically uses more basic audio codecs compared to MP4.

Do 3GP files save storage space on mobile devices?

Yes, 3GP files are smaller and save space on mobile devices.

Is 3GP still widely used?

3GP is less common now, primarily used for low-bandwidth mobile videos.

Is MP4 a good format for professional video production?

Yes, MP4 is often used in professional video production due to its quality.

Can MP4 be used for both audio and video?

Yes, MP4 can store audio and video content, as well as other data types.

Is MP4 compatible with most media players?

Yes, MP4 is compatible with a wide range of media players and devices.

Are 3GP videos of enough quality for large screens?

3GP is not ideal for large screens due to its lower resolution and quality.

Do 3GP files require less bandwidth to transmit?

Yes, due to their smaller size, 3GP files require less bandwidth.

Is MP4 a good choice for long-term digital storage?

Yes, MP4 is suitable for long-term storage due to its compatibility and quality.

Can I convert 3GP videos to MP4?

Yes, 3GP videos can be converted to MP4 format for better quality and compatibility.

Does MP4 support high-definition video?

Yes, MP4 supports HD and even 4K video formats.

Are 3GP files easy to edit?

3GP files might require conversion before editing with standard software.

Which format is better for mobile usage, MP4 or 3GP?

For older or basic phones, 3GP is better; for newer smartphones, MP4 works well.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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