iPhone 3G History and Features

Apple iPhone 3G

Apple Inc. 

Introduced July 2008​
Discontinued June 2009

The iPhone 3G was Apple’s second iPhone model, the follow-up to the surprise-hit first-generation iPhone. It carried through the core features that made the original phone such a success and added a host of new features. Three key features introduced on the 3G became core parts of the iPhone experience and continue to be used today. Those three innovations were: 

  1. The App Store The most important feature that came with the iPhone 3G was the App Store. While no one knew it at the time, the ability for developers to create native third-party apps would transform the iPhone from a nice, expensive smartphone into a ubiquitous, must-have device that helped revolutionize the way people use computers, communicate, and get work done.
  2. 3G The second major improvement in the device was right there in its name: support for 3G wireless networks. The original iPhone only supported AT&T's EDGE network; 3G support made the iPhone 3G's cellular Internet connection about twice as fast as its predecessor's.
  3. GPS Lastly, the iPhone 3G introduced GPS support to the iPhone, unlocking the range of location-aware apps and services that users take for granted now, including mapping and driving apps and tools to find nearby restaurants, movies, stores, and more.

With this release, Apple also changes the device's price: The iPhone 3G was significantly less expensive than the original model. The 8 GB iPhone 3G debuted at $199, while the 16 GB model was $299. The 16 GB version of the original iPhone cost $399.

Features of the iPhone 3G

  • Support for third-party applications
  • App Store compatibility
  • 3G cellular network support
  • Built-in GPS

Other Key Features

  • iPod/MP3 player
  • Video playback/widescreen option
  • Wireless Internet access, using Wi-Fi and EDGE
  • Email, web browsing
  • Phone, text messaging, Visual Voicemail
  • 2-megapixel digital camera
  • 3.5-inch screen, 480 x 320 pixels, with multitouch support
  • Bluetooth

Built-In Apps

  • Communication  Messages, Phone, Mail
  • Photography  Photos, Camera
  • Productivity  Calendar, Notes
  • Internet  Safari
  • Entertainment  iPod, YouTube
  • Misc  Stocks, Maps, Weather, Clock, Calculator, Settings, iTunes Store, App Store

Phone Company



8 GB
16 GB


White — 16 GB model only

Battery Life

Voice Calls

  • 5 hours talk time on 3G
  • 10 hours talk time on EDGE


  • 5 hours 3G Internet use
  • 6 hours on Wi-Fi


  • 7 hours of video playback
  • 24 hours of audio playback


  • 300 hours standby

Size and Weight

Size — 4.5 inches tall x 2.4 inches wide x 0.48 inches deep
Weight — 4.7 ounces

Critical Reception of the iPhone 3G

Overall, the iPhone 3G was reviewed positively and enthusiastically by the tech press:

  • We gave the phone 4.5 stars, calling it "a solid jump past the first-generation iPhone." 
  • Engadget said, "you're going to have a hard time finding a better device for two hundred bucks — or maybe even for any price."
  • AnandTech said it was "the best consumer smartphone available."
  • CNET gave it 4 stars, saying "the iPhone 3G is a big improvement over the original model."

iPhone 3G Sales

Those positive assessments were borne out in the sales of the device. In January 2008, a few months before the phone was released, Apple said that it had sold about 3.8 million iPhones. By January 2009, six months after the iPhone 3G was released, that figure had skyrocketed to 17.3 million iPhones.

In January 2010, the iPhone 3G had been replaced by the iPhone 3GS about 6 months earlier, but the iPhone had tallied all-time sales of 42.4 million units. While a good chunk of those 42.4 million phones were certainly original and 3GS models, it was the 3G that helped accelerate iPhone sales to their historic pace.