3GP files are a multimedia container format commonly used on 3G mobile phones but also playable on some 2G and 4G phones. This format was designed to decrease storage and bandwidth requirements in order to accommodate mobile phones. It stores video streams as MPEG-4 Part 2 or H.263 or MPEG-4 Part 10 (AVC/H.264), and audio streams as AMR-NB, AMR-WB, AMR-WB+, AAC-LC, HE-AAC v1 or Enhanced aacPlus (HE-AAC v2).
History of the 3GP Filetype
The 3GP format was established in the early 2000s by the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), an umbrella term for a number of standards organizations that develop protocols for mobile telecommunications. Its specification outlines a multimedia container format for video and audio streams, which allows for the creation of files that are compact and suitable for mobile devices with limited storage and processing capabilities.
How the 3GP Format Works
The structure of a 3GP file aims to maintain high quality with as little data as possible, making it ideal for mobile devices. The video encoded in 3GP files is typically low resolution to match the display capabilities of older phones, and audio is compressed using various codecs to minimize file size.
Software and Devices That Use 3GP
Various applications and devices, particularly older cell phones and some modern smartphones, support 3GP files. Software like VLC Media Player, Windows Media Player, and QuickTime can also play 3GP files. For content creation and editing, programs such as Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro can handle 3GP format with ease.
Alternatives to 3GP Format
As technology has advanced, alternatives to 3GP have surfaced. Formats like MP4 have become more prevalent, offering better quality and compatibility with a wide range of devices, including computers and modern smartphones. MP4 files utilize more advanced video and audio codecs, providing higher resolution video and better sound quality.
While 3GP files remain in use, especially in circumstances where low bandwidth and small file size are priorities, the majority of newer devices and media software now lean towards more advanced file formats that align with contemporary standards of multimedia consumption.