iPhone 4 vs. iPhone 3GS: Worth the Upgrade?

  • MORE

Apple says that the iPhone 4 is the biggest leap forward since the original iPhone. But does it live up to the hype? How much better is it than its predecessor? A lot better. It's much thinner (though slightly heavier), lasts longer on a charge (thanks to Apple's A4 chip), and will offer two-way FaceTime video chat. You also get HD video recording and an all-new three-axis gyroscope that should make gameplay even more immersive.

What's more, the iPhone 4 which we reviewed (and loved) on AT&T, is also now offered by Verizon. This pairs the superb handset with a more reliable data and voice network. The 16GB and 32GB versions of the iPhone 4 cost $199 and $299 regardless of which carrier you choose. If you stick with AT&T though, the 8GB iPhone 3GS costs just $49.

Check out the spec and feature comparison below between the iPhone 4 and 3GS and let us know if it's enough to tear you away from your current iPhone or another Android phone. Is there anything you think is missing (other than Verizon 4G LTE support)?


iPhone 3GS

iPhone 4

Operating System iPhone OS 3 (Upgrade to iOS 4.3) iOS 4.3
Size (inches) 4.5 x 2.4 x 0.48 4.5 x 2.3 x 0.37
Weight (ounces)
4.76  ounces 4.8 ounces
Processor 600-MHz ARM Cortex A8 Apple A4 processor
Display 3.5 inches  (480 x 320 pixels, 163 ppi) 3.5 inches (960 x 640 pixels, 326 ppi)
Camera 3-MP 5-MP with LED flash, VGA front camera
Video Recording VGA @ 30fps 720p @ 30fps
Wi-Fi 802.11b/g 802.11n
Sensors Accelerometer, proximity sensor, ambient light 3-axis gyro, Accelerometer, proximity, ambient light
Internal Memory (max) 8GB 16GB, 32GB
Talk / Standby Time up to 5 hours (3G)/12.5 days 7 hours (3G)/12.5 days
Internet Use (3G/Wi-Fi) 5 hours/9 hours 6 hours/10 hours
Video/Audio Playback Up to 10 hours/30 hours Up to 10 hours/40 hours
Author Bio
Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief on
Add a comment
  • leonardo Says:

    ill say the iPhone 3gs is better than the iPhone 4 i still have a iPhone 3gs i used to have a 4 but i sold it because it cant multitask

  • Dicko Says:

    you all are right. :-)

  • codey Says:

    i live in sudbury ontario canada. and i jist purchased an 16gig black iphone 4 today. i had my 3GS sim card punched out to fit in my iphone 4. it works great. other then the service issue i have with it. iv done research yea the metal strand is the antenna yaddy yaw, but when im at home, i usually have 3 bars with my 3GS, and i use my 4, i have 1 or none or "searching", i can watch the service fall in my hand or sitting on the counter. its bad enough i use my 3GS at home, and my iphone 4 in town. i dont know if the sim card has something to do with it, i was told it shouldnt. but who knows technology today. im not an expert. i personally never complained once about my 3GS, other then "i want better graphics", the 4 has got that pretty good. the cameras, dont care for. the looks of the 4 is better i find. other then the service issue i have, the 4 is good, but if i can use my 3GS at home and out.. i might just sell the 4 if i cant get an conclusion to my service issue.

  • Dr. Mark Nelson Says:

    I got the iPhone 4 upgrade specifically because it will act bring in 3g signal and transfer it via wi-fi to my MacBook Pro! If I am ever somewhere that doesn't offer me access to wi-fi; I just use my iPhone 4, and I've got wi-fi. Also, the sound is clearer, it is louder, and I like the photo and video offerings of the"4" better than my old 3GS.

  • Chris Ray Says:

    hey im going to get one very soon...is the 3GS still in style?

  • linaes Says:

    iphone 4. +
    Face time. Battery lasts longer. Faster?
    pixels are awesome. HD quality when filming.
    now avaiable in white.
    some of the

    iphone 4. -
    antenna, not that good. not à big difference since 3GS?

    3GS doesen't have the antenna problem. it's fast. the shape is great and comfortable.
    the minuses is the battery time, the shell gets cracks(?), mostly on the white ones. and it gets slow of u have
    lots of apps and so on. but that's all.



  • blahblahblah Says:

    The 16gb and 32gb 3gs:s would compete with the iphone 4? What the heck, all the money will still go to apple!! I think it's up to the people to choose which will fit their needs more..

  • raghav Says:

    i hav a nokia x6
    N want to buy iphone which 1 should i but 3gs or 4g?
    Plz suggest

  • Khalid Says:

    dear all
    i am sure that apple dose not put any product have such a little problem all the world knows that i don't know how to talk about iPhone 4 like this it's really new generation of technology with all properties and new with everything but there is something want to say everyone cannot buy this phone he can talk bad about it so why it is still too expensive till now and why a lot of people still buy it ??
    anyone can get iPhone 4 i tell him go ahead
    thanks for all
    my regards

  • Tristan Barrett Says:

    First the 3Gs come in memorys 16 an 32 also i have a16 an my brother has a 8 and also there Prices have dropped like crazy i wish i got my iphone for 50 dollars plus with the iphone 5 in september it will be a 3G 3Gs upgrade so when that happens the 3gs will go out the window pretty much exept for the people who all ready have one so might as well upgrade to iphone 4 its the new design sadly its a damn box like for real buts its real sleek whichis nice

  • palmman77 Says:

    ok I work for a company where I can get xtra deals on phones from AT&t and go to there special business sight...they have all the iphones there for sale...3g...3gs in 8, 16, 32, and yes even the white ones..my question is should i go with the 3gs 32gb for $79 or the the Iphone 4 for $99...I really like the space benefit as I would use it to replace my 30gb ipod classic, but I do like the specs of the 4 better...there are no special deals as of right now on the 32gb iphone 4...any suggestions

  • iD Says:

    the final solution(s):

    new iphone users: buy a 3gs from ebay and enter the fancy world of Apple, test it.. if you like it, wait for the incoming iPhone 5, if you don't like it.. you haven't waste a lot of money

    whoever already have an iPhone 3gs: upgrade it and wait for iPhone 5, your money investments will be much longer until iPhone 6/7

  • enirehtak2011 Says:

    iPone 3GS is no longer available as 16GB or 32GB. Apple used to make them with that amount of memory, but in order to reduce the price, they no longer make them with this amount of memory.. The only reason I know this is because I was thinking about getting the 3GS instead of the 4, but I am not sure anymore because of the lack of memory.

  • Redneck says Says:

    It's all in the preference 3GS is great but no flash on camera. So I will upgrade to the I4 or to I5. Cause flash on the camera makes a big difference I have seen it with my own eyes

  • Jonas Says:


  • David Says:

    Tech guy u are a jerk, to say that even poor people have the 3GS and it doesent look good. That's total crap because who really cares if poor people have it who are u to judge anyone atleast poor people don't judge like u do I have a 3GS I have had the iPhone 4 and I prefer the 3GS to it the phone is virtuAlly the same aside from shape and a few added features I use tmobile on mine and it's really inconvenient to trim my sim so poo on u tech guy u the only one who is allowed to judge is God,Alla,Budda and so on not some stupid ignorAnt tech guy so sit on it u doush

  • Adam Says:

    First of all, who cares if someone doesnt spell right its faster and you can still tell what they are saying Kori Secondly I have just bought the Iphone 4 and I am satisfied with the improvements of the camera and the pixels as the images are crisp. There isnt any bugs and this thing about the sides slowing down the call or whatever.... WHAT A LOAD OF CRAP

  • lizzy Says:

    Im an AT&T user,,,,right now I have a blackberry but im going to upgrade. AT& T has the Iphone 3GS on sale for 50 bucks......its a good buy but which one is better the Iphone 4 or the Iphone 3 GS. Need some input so I could decide

  • 3GS Says:

    I have the 3GS 32GB and an IP4 and in real terms there is no real difference that YOU can detect unless the mind control is on, on your Iphone4. I do prefer the feel of the 3GS in my hand since it has an organic shape. I have the latest OS on the 3GS and it multi-tasks fine. The IP4 is fine it does the job too but I hate the shape - too sharp on the edges. ..I can feel it under my pillow at night... not good design, more form that function. Anyway just be careful not to let the mind-altering waves from that band on the IP4 control your mind too much. If you find yourself camping in front of a white goods store for the Iphone 5GS with copper band ... just buy a magnetic wrist band to counter the waves to block the apple waves or buy some of those dome shaped shoes they will help too.

  • rbl Says:

    i want to buy the iphone 4 in India...its not yet officially launched in here...bt its available in the the grey markets...is it worth buying it from there without the bill...if not...plzzz suggest me smethin other than waiting ;-)

  • 3GS Says:

    the new iphone 5 is not even real so if you think its real then your dumd cause they just made up rumors

  • Kori Says:

    First of all, the majority of you need to go back to school.
    (someone spelled awful "aughful")
    Nobody is going to take you seriously if you can't spell. Just saying. I currently own a white 32 gig 3GS and although I love it to pieces, there are many setbacks.
    Firstly. The camera. I went from a BB 9700 to this phone. I didn't think the lack of flash would be an issue but it was. Having a flash makes it that much more convenient, instead of lugging my digital camera around.
    Battery life on my 3GS is horrible. I had an 8 am class the other day and my phone was at 100. By 11 am, I had used it 3 or 4 times to text someone, it was already at 40 percent. I'm going to sell my 3GS and get an iPhone 4. The signal problems have been rectified on the newer models and even so, were fixed by putting a case on it and let's be honest: w

  • TRG Says:

    I think the main question is; Is a two year contract worth the added cost. Yes you can get a refurbed iPhone4 for $99 but you are locked in to spending about $2,000 over two years. So if your dilemma is an iPhone 3Gs for $49 or an iPhone 4 for $99. Go with the iPhone 4. In reality it costs 2.5% more in regards to a 2 year contract. But if you do the math an iPhone costs approximately $661. FYI I have been with ATT for 6 years, done the upgrade from iPhone Gen 1 to 3G (of course cracked all my screens, but unlocked them and sold them on Ebay for about $300). I am iPhone-less currently but I am only spending $45/month which is approximately half that of a bare-bones iPhone contracted plan. But I do miss the convenience of the iPhone, not sure how I calculate that factor, nor the COOL factor of having a great looking phone!

  • Christoper Hitchens Says:

    First of all, you are ridiculous if you think this is not much of an upgrade. If you think that, you are just telling yourself that to not be jealous of the incredible step up with the iphone 4. Video chat works over 3g with skype. The back camera is much better. You can shoot HD video. The GPS chip is better. The phone is smaller. The screen is amazing- the 3gs screen does not even compare. It has twice the RAM of the 3GS. It has a faster processor than the 3GS. And the list goes on.

    Oh and the antenna problem? Non-issue. I have had no problems and I use no case or screen protector whatsoever. I have no scratches and no signal problem. I think it's rare to have the problem, and if you do, guess what? Buy a case and quit your crying. Most people spend more time surfing the net, playing games than they spend on the phone anyway.

    Get over your jealousy and pony up the money to get yourself one. I bet you change your tune.

  • luke Says:

    hi i just want to say my cousin has the iphone4 and my iphone 3gs is WELL quicker and plus the face chat only works wid wi fi soo yh and i think its stupid paying £100 more for the iphone for and thay are both really exspenciv over here in britain but yh i think rthe 3gs is much better

  • fredjones Says:

    What an overpriced piece of crap, hhm I can buy a mobile for $25 or I can pay apple over $500 for their overpriced gadget that apparently does not even work properly that they will try to convince me to upgrade in 12 moths for a similarly useless phone that costs over $500

  • Alex Says:

    My name is Alex. I am deaf. I have an iPhone 4. 3GS is nice, but iPhone 4 is worth upgrade for the deaf people due videophone reason via FaceTime and tango. iPhone 4 is much easier for the deaf people. Thanks, Apple!

  • EricP3 Says:

    And now you can get the iphone 3Gs for only $49! It make the decision a little harder. I think I'll get the 3Gs for my wife.

  • Kay Says:


    Please - what is antenna gate problem...


  • Sam Says:

    I have a question for anyone who has owned both the iphone3GS AND the iphone 4. I previously had a 3GS and just upgraded to the 4, I havent had my iphone 4 for long, but is it just me, or is the 3GS slightly faster than the 4?

  • Justin Says:

    Radio Shack is selling the iPhone 4 for $150 and paying up to $125 for the trade in of your 3GS. I just got the 4 for $25. Call around though because you pretty much need to be there the day they get a shipment in.

  • Karina Says:

    iPhone 5 is COMING SOON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (:

  • iPhone 3GS Says:

    I have both of them and the iphone 3gs is way faster i think you guys will upgrade but it will be a waste of money cause the iphone 3gs is way more faster and the iphone 4 is fast but not that fast so the upgrade is not worth it apple just made iphone 3gs only 8gb cause they want you to waste your moneyover the iphone 4 cause it has 16 and 32gb and back then the iphone 3gs have 16 and 32gb but they're just trying to make the iphone 4 more better cause they know if the iphone 3gs have 16 and 32gb they will buy it instead of the iphone 4 so its your chose just read this and make your discision.

  • Scott Says:

    @Khalid. Obviously iPhone 4 is better, but I think what people who are saying is that the difference is not worth the $ for them upgrading. And I that is the reasoning why I'm holding off too. My wife is going to get a new phone upgrade. I'm convincing her that for iphone 4 is not worth $200 when the 3GS for $99 offers everything she could possibly need without the headache of antenna-gate problem.

  • diego Says:


    I have an Iphone 3gs 16GB and if you're going to swap your Iphone 4 with me for free, I'll do it! But if I'm going to buy the Iphone 4 just for an upgrade, I'd rather wait for the next gen Iphone 4 come 2011...

  • Khalid Says:

    an answer to all the questions is ; Iphone 4 is 'BUILT' to be better than the 3GS So there is NO-WAY the 3gs is better. To al those who want an iphone 4 but feel hesitated, dont worry its the best iphone made so far. To those who think the previous version is better, please stop making up all that..I bet you will swap ur iphones with an iphone 4 if you were offered to.


    Dont hesitate and get your iphone 4 .
    think about it this way...to those who think the 3GS is better, name me one spec that an iphone 3GS has and iphone 4 doesnt ??

  • Jonny Says:

    For some reason, I do not like the look of the new one. Those buttons on the side, ugly.

    But the new display is of course impressive.

  • Joe Says:

    Going into this Season of Christmas shopping I will be taking the leap into the Iphone but I will be purchasing the 3GS. I dont see the extra $100 really worth it (TO ME) not anyone else; but for my needs. I love the phone and the looks of it, especialy the feel...I like the way it conforms to your hand unlike the squared off half a pound Iphone 4. The Iphone 3GS takes great photos as it is and video quality is just fine for me. Mainly what wins me over is the Iphones web browsing, the phone design, and the 3GS is pretty much bullet proof. I think ill make the switch to the iphone 4 once they release newer features and patches etc. Both phones are excelant but I prefer the 3GS

  • Barrera Says:

    Hi, having handed back in the blackberry at work, I'm going for the iphon Here's the dilema. I'm not swayed either way on the 3GS OR 4 except for the memory available. As I'm buying new, I'm concerend about the 8GB of memeory. Is this adequate for general phone use, and only accessing work e-mail.

  • sharad Says:

    i want to buy iphone 4g -32gb what is the best price & prcedure to get it in India

  • iSm4rT Says:

    I believe many many ppl said it before (I hope so) but if not, well the recording is 60fps NOT 30fps. It's 60fps on both of them lol. Any besides, I think it's not that worth to upgrade to iPhone 4. I'm good with my 3Gs and I will wait for Verizon's iPhone 5. Pretty sure it will be 3 times as good as the iPhone 4.

  • Elly Says:

    There WERE 3gs 16G and 32G, that's why some of you have them. They were permanently discontinued by apple at the beginning of this year. The only iphone 3gs produced now is the 8G. No phone company i know of has any of the higher memory 3gs in stock anymore, the only way you can get one is used from ebay. Marketing to force people to buy the iphone 4 for the increased memory i'm guessing.

  • araneta101 Says:

    iphone 3gs is much better in terms of having available free application on the net and accessories out on the market..many to choose from. the camera pixel and video call function not really matters. it depends on what kind of usage individual have whether to buy 3gs or the 4

  • Richard Gere Says:

    Your 3gs storage specs are wrong, you don't mention the Mhz of CPU on the iphone 4.

  • Tiger Says:

    I have the iPhone 3GS 16gb and it's way faster than the iPhone 4 16gb and both of them are in 4.1 but the iPhone 3GS is way more faster and better I have the iPhone 3GS and my dad has the iPhone 4 but I'll never buy the iPhone 4 It just have a front camera and 5 mp camera and flash that's it it's no better than the iPhone 3GS so if for any of uou who's going yo upgrade to 4 then don't cause when you buy it it's going to be a waste of money.

  • AshSA Says:

    I live in South Africa and surprise, surprise my Iphone 3G got stolen, now the time has come for insurance to pay out and i have the option to get the Iphone 4, but i can only get it in Jan next year or I could get the 32Gb 3GS (now) bear in mind in SA we dont have all these unlimited data bundles so it can get rather expensive...
    What do you guys suggest?

  • Bensmith Says:

    I'm writing on this on a 3gs 16 gb which I bought brand new yesterday. I do have an iPhone 4 as well which is unbelievably better then this one, only bought the downgrade as I require a second phone for abroad use however wish I'd splashed out the extra cash to get another 4

  • JOHN Says:

    hi... guys just a quick one I wanna buy I phone 3gs is good to go !!!!

  • John Says:

    Having owned both 3gs and 4g and even the ipod 4g. I love the resolution on 4g don't be cheap ... upgrade. Unless you are broke try to come up with reason to justify your inability to afford a new phone.

Back to top