• Major differences you should know between the iPhone 2G, 3G and 3GS

    Posted on February 23rd, 2010 admin No comments

    Ever since June, 2007, Apple has debuted three generations of iPhone, marking the advancement of this miraculous invention annually. The iPhone 2G, the first generation of iPhone, introduced the first and the only mobile device exclusively made by Apple. A year later, the iPhone 3G upgrades transmitting module to meet faster 3G mobile network. In June, 2009, the latest iPhone 3GS sees breakthrough on performance and speed. Needless to say, the newer is the better. If you are preparing to purchase an iPhone, or you want to know your iPhone better, come with us to review the differences between the iPhone 2G, 3G and 3GS.

    How to identify iPhone 2G, 3G and 3GS?

    Basically, the iPhone 2G has a distinctive aluminum back casing with a black strip on the bottom, while the iPhone 3G and 3GS features a smooth glass plastic back lid either in black or white. The iPhone 3G’s and 3GS’s back lids are fashionably rounded and slightly extend out further than that of the iPhone 2G. To speak of build quality, iPhone 2G is no doubt the winner.

    Functional comparison between iPhone 2G, 3G and 3GS

    Although they are one year apart, the iPhone 2G and the iPhone 3G share basic hardware configurations like the CPU, RAM, GPU and camera, except 3G connectivity and GPS modules which the iPhone 2G lacks. If you have your iPhone 2G jailbroken, you can access external GPS device via Bluetooth with third-party apps. But for 3G accessibility, you need an iPhone 3G or 3GS.

    Practically, the iPhone 2G still supports the newest iPhone OS 3.1 and most apps, but some apps developed to take advantage of 3G network won’t run on the iPhone 2G any more. As 3G technology is quickening its pace of dominating mobile communication, the iPhone 2G will not hold much edges against its older brother, the iPhone 3G, not to mention the iPhone 3GS. Let’s see some compare charts and screenshots to get a clear picture of the differences, or specifically, the evolution.

    CPU & GPU Performance:

    The iPhone 3GS’s S stands for "Speed": CPU, RAM, GPU and camera are all upgraded. With higher frequency, double internal cache, double RAM capacity and enhanced GPU capability, the iPhone 3GS extends extraordinary performance and can accommodate complex, CPU-stressed apps such as 3D games. As you can see in the charts below, the iPhone 3GS tops all three ranks.

    CPU Performance Test for floating-point calculation

    CPU Performance Test for Web Browser JavaScript Execution

    GPU Speed Test for Rendering 1/10 Million Objects


    What is the tangible benefit brought by doubled RAM size? It is huge.

    This is a test conducted on the iPhone 2G and 3GS. The gauge represents the current RAM usage of the iPhone at the same status. Although on the right the app doesn’t change the threshold to match 3GS’s actual RAM size, it clearly indicates there is still 120.30MB, almost half of the RAM, available while 2G’s RAM is pitifully about exhausted. Perhaps the poor margin of RAM in the iPhone 2G/3G can account for the absence of multitasking. Even if we do have multitasking ability, there won’t be enough RAM to run tasks simultaneously and smoothly at all. But for 3GS, with an app called "background", we can listen to music, log on to IM apps and browse the web without interruption. The potential of the iPhone 3GS will be further exploited in the next iPhone OS 4.0.


    The iPhone 2G and 3G share the same camera with video capability disabled; however, the function can be revived by jailbreaking the iPhone, though it is not suggested by Apple. The new camera installed on the iPhone 3GS has competitive 3 Megapixels, compared to 2 Megapixels of its predecessor. The white balance of 3GS’s camera is improved to present real environmental color. The iPhone 3GS also enables unprecedented auto-focus feature with an ingenuous tap-to-focus interface.

    Network Speed on iPhone 2G, 3G & 3GS

    3G Network vs. EDGE Network

    As for connectivity, the iPhone 2G only supports EDGE network. EDGE network runs at 384 Kbps bandwidth, almost 11 times slower than 3G network supported by the iPhone 3G/3GS.

    iPhone 3G (3.5Mbps HSDPA) vs. iPhone 3GS (7.2Mbps HSDPA)

    The iPhone 3GS further upgrades its connectivity capability to support 7.2 Mbps HSDPA, which allegedly provides WiFi-like network data speed, though the actual test above doesn’t show much difference between iPhone 3G and 3GS. As we know, the network speed is quite dependent on the quality and the usage of the network. It is another potential yet unrecovered on iPhone 3GS.

    Other New Features on iPhone 3GS

    The latest iPhone OS 3.0 takes a large stride from where iPhone OS 2.2 stands. In conjunction with the latest hardware configuration of the iPhone 3GS, the iPhone OS 3.0 scores considerably better than its predecessor.

    Another fascinating feature added to iPhone 3GS is the built-in digital compass. Cooperated with this Compass app, the Map will rotate to match the orientation you face. When hiking in mountains or groping at starless night, you will find this Compass come in handy.

    Efforts have been made on the iPhone 3GS’s screen as well. The screen has been applied an oleophobic coating. Finger prints and smudges will easily come off to make the screen as shiny as the new.

    Obsolete Features on iPhone 2G

    • No 3G network support
    • No built-in GPS module
    • No standard 3.5mm headset slot
    • Uses a non standard slot requiring users to purchase an adaptor
    • Old iPhone OS 2.2

    To wrap up, this table will give you a straight-forward comparison on the major differences between the three gen iPhones.

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