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Technology10 Surprising Facts About iPhone 3GS: A Comprehensive Guide

10 Surprising Facts About iPhone 3GS: A Comprehensive Guide


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Explore the iPhone 3GS in detail.

This guide covers everything from groundbreaking features to lesser-known facts. A must-read for tech enthusiasts!

The iPhone 3GS was introduced by Apple in 2009, and at the time, it represented a significant step forward in terms of speed and functionality over its predecessor, the iPhone 3G. Reviewing it now, from a modern perspective, is essentially an exercise in tech nostalgia, as the device is no longer supported by the latest iOS updates and most contemporary apps. However, looking back can give us a sense of how far mobile technology has come.


The iPhone 3GS maintained the same design as the iPhone 3G, featuring a plastic back that was available in black or white. It was comfortable to hold and the build quality was considered solid for its time. The screen size was 3.5 inches, which by today’s standards seems tiny, but it was the standard for high-end smartphones of that era.


The 3GS’s display had a resolution of 320×480 pixels. While this is incredibly low compared to today’s high-definition screens, at the time, the clarity and brightness of the display were praised. It used LCD technology, which couldn’t produce the deep blacks of modern OLED screens, but it was still considered to be excellent for media consumption.


The “S” in 3GS stands for speed, and it was a major selling point. With a 600 MHz ARM Cortex-A8 processor and 256 MB of RAM, the iPhone 3GS was significantly faster than its predecessor. It could handle the iOS operating system smoothly, run apps with ease, and even support multitasking to a certain degree—a feature that was just beginning to appear on smartphones.


Camera improvements were also a key feature of the 3GS. It had a 3-megapixel rear camera that included autofocus, a feature not present in the iPhone 3G. It also introduced video recording capabilities to the iPhone line, allowing users to capture 480p videos. There was no front-facing camera, so selfies and video calls weren’t as straightforward as they are today.


The iPhone 3GS ran iOS 3, which was then updated to several subsequent versions of the operating system, eventually topping out at iOS 6.1.6. The software offered a user-friendly experience with features like Copy and Paste, MMS messaging, and Spotlight Search. The introduction of the App Store a year before had already begun to change the landscape of what a smartphone could do, offering a plethora of applications and games.


The 3GS included support for 3G networks, which was a significant improvement in internet speeds over the 2G-supported original iPhone. It also came with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support, but lacked the LTE connectivity and NFC features that are common in modern smartphones.

Battery Life

The battery life of the iPhone 3GS was acceptable for its day. It was advertised to offer up to 5 hours of talk time on 3G and up to 9 hours of Wi-Fi internet use. However, by today’s standards, these figures are quite low, as modern smartphones typically offer all-day battery life.


The iPhone 3GS was a standout phone for its time and a testament to the rapid pace of innovation in the smartphone industry. It set the stage for the yearly improvements we’ve come to expect from high-end smartphones. While it’s no longer a viable option for most smartphone users today due to its outdated hardware and lack of software support, it remains an important part of the iPhone’s history.

For someone who collects vintage tech or wishes to relive the experience of early iOS, the iPhone 3GS would be of interest. However, for everyday use, it would be practical to look for a more recent model.

The iPhone 3GS, introduced by Apple in 2009, was the third generation of iPhone after the iPhone 3G. It came with several significant improvements over its predecessor, while retaining the same overall design. Please note that the following review is based on the context and standards of its release period; by modern standards, the device would be considered extremely outdated.

In-depth review of iPhone 3GS
Deep Dive into iPhone 3GS Reviews

Design and Build Quality:

  • The iPhone 3GS maintained the same design as the iPhone 3G, featuring a plastic polycarbonate back available in black and white options.
  • It had a solid build quality typical of Apple products, with a premium feel despite the plastic back.
  • The 3.5-inch screen was small by today’s standards, but at the time it was a common size for smartphones.


  • The 3GS had a 3.5-inch display with a resolution of 320 x 480 pixels.
  • The screen technology was not as advanced as today’s OLED or Super Retina displays, but the screen was praised for its clarity and color accuracy at the time.


  • This model introduced a faster processor, the 600 MHz ARM Cortex-A8, which was a significant step up from the 412 MHz ARM 11 in the iPhone 3G.
  • It came with 256MB of RAM, which was double what was found in the 3G, leading to better multitasking and overall smoother performance.
  • The 3GS was the first iPhone to support OpenGL ES 2.0, which allowed for better graphics in games and apps.


  • The camera was upgraded to a 3.2-megapixel sensor and included autofocus, a feature that was not present on the iPhone 3G.
  • It was capable of recording VGA video, which was a new feature for the iPhone lineup at the time.


  • It ran iPhone OS 3.0, which introduced features such as Copy and Paste, MMS, and Spotlight Search.
  • The App Store was becoming increasingly robust, allowing users to download a wide variety of apps to customize their experience.

Battery Life:

  • The iPhone 3GS had a slightly improved battery life over its predecessor, offering more talk time and longer battery life in general.
  • However, heavy usage, especially with GPS or data, would still require daily charging.

Other Features:

  • It was the first iPhone to include Voice Control, which allowed users to make calls and control music playback with voice commands.
  • It also introduced a digital compass, which helped with navigation.

Overall Impression:

  • The iPhone 3GS was well-received at the time of its release. It offered significant performance improvements, better camera capabilities, and the introduction of video recording.
  • For users of the iPhone 3G, the 3GS was a compelling upgrade, particularly due to the speed improvements and new features.
  • It was also seen as a solid choice for new smartphone users, although competition from Android smartphones was starting to heat up.

Looking back from a modern perspective, the iPhone 3GS represents a time of rapid evolution in the smartphone industry, with each successive model introducing features that would soon become standard. While no longer suitable for current smartphone users due to its outdated hardware, software, and network capabilities (it can no longer run recent versions of iOS, many modern apps, or work on advanced cellular networks), the 3GS is a reminder of the significant strides that have been made in mobile technology over the last decade.

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