A 3GP file is a container format for multimedia which is designed to work with 3G networks. 3G stands for third generation wireless and is a high speed connection used with mobile devices. A 3G connection is provided by cell phone carriers and is the predecessor to 4G and the up and coming 5G 802.11ac wireless technology.
Files that contain the 3GP extension were designed by the Third Generation Partnership project which is a collaboration of telecommunications organizations. 3GP file extensions were created during the early 2000s with the initial specification of 3G UMTS or Universal Telecommunications System and are primarily used to access multimedia on smartphones that are equipped with video capability.
The contents of 3GP files involve encoding formats which are comparable to those contained in MPEG-4 files. 3GP videos are also compressed and utilize a lower quality video resolution to accommodate slower Internet data speeds.
How to Open 3GP Files
Although 3GP files are typically used with mobile devices such as smartphones or your iPad, you can also open 3GP files on any PC that is equipped with Windows, Mac OS X or Linux operating systems. Since the file extension 3GP represents a multimedia format, you typically need a third party software application installed on your PC or mobile device.
For the Windows operating system you can open 3GP files using any one of the following programs: RealNetworks Real Player, Adobe Flash Professional CS6, Nokia Suite, Roxio Creator 2012, or Xilisoft Video Converter Ultimate. You simply download and install the program of your choice, launch the application, and then choose the 3GP file you want to open. The 3GP file will then open and play in the chosen multimedia software application.
For Mac OS X you can download and install Roxio Toast 11, NCH Prism, Apple QuickTime Player, MPlayer, or MIKSOFT Mobile Media Converter. For the Linux operating system you can use VideoLAN VLC Media Player, which is an open source multimedia software application.
It is also important to mention that if you attempt to open 3GP file extensions using an iPad, this type of mobile device only supports MOV, MP4, M4V, and AVI formats. However, if you receive a 3GP file in an email attachment, you can open it using Mail app. Simply tap on the email to open the message, tap the email attachment, and the 3GP video will open on your iPad.
Many are confused as to why this is setup in this manner. If you want to open a 3GP file on your iPad using any other method, it is necessary to deploy a video file conversion program or log onto a file conversion website such as Zamzar to convert a 3GP file to one of the formats we listed above.