What is a 3GP File?

How to Open, Edit, & Convert 3GP & 3G2 Files

3GP Files
3GP Files.

Created by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project Group (3GPP), a file with the 3GP file extension is a 3GPP Multimedia file.

The 3GP video container format was developed with the intention to save on disk space, bandwidth, and data usage, which is why they're often seen created from, and transferred between, mobile devices.

3GP is the required, standard format for media files sent using Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) and Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Services (MBMS).

Note: Sometimes, files in this format may use the .3GPP file extension but they're no different than ones that use the .3GP suffix.

3GP vs 3G2

3G2 is a very similar format that includes some advancements, but also some limitations, compared to the 3GP format.

While 3GP is the standard video format for GSM-based phones, CDMA phones use the 3G2 format as specified by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project Group 2 (3GPP2).

Both file formats can store the same video streams but the 3GP format is considered superior because it's able to store ACC+ and AMR-WB+ audio streams. However, compared to 3G2, it cannot contain EVRC, 13K, and SMV/VMR audio streams.

All that said, when it comes down to practical use of either 3GP or 3G2, programs that can open and convert 3GP are almost always the same that can work with 3G2 files.

How To Open a 3GP or 3G2 File

Both 3GP and 3G2 files can be played on many different 3G mobile phones without the need for a special app.

Although there may be some limitations, 2G and 4G mobile devices are also almost always able to natively play 3GP/3G2 files.

You can open either multimedia file on a computer as well if you use software like Apple's free QuickTime media player, the free VLC media player, or the free general "file opening" program Open Freely.

You can also open 3G2 and 3GP files with Microsoft's Windows Media Player, but you may need to install a codec for them to display properly, like the free FFDShow MPEG-4 Video Decoder.

How To Convert a 3GP or 3G2 File

If a 3GP or 3G2 file won't play on your computer or mobile device, converting it to a more usable format like MP4, AVI, or MKV, can be done with one of these free video converter programs. One of my favorite free video converters that supports both formats is Any Video Converter.

Zamzar and FileZigZag are two other free file converters that convert these types of files on a web server, meaning no need to download any software yourself. Just upload the 3GP or 3G2 file to one of those websites and you'll have to option to convert the file to the other format (3GP-to-3G2 or 3G2-to-3GP) as well as convert either to MP3, FLV, WEBM, WAV, FLAC, MPG, WMV, MOV, or to any other popular audio or video format.

FileZigZag also lets you choose the device you want to convert the 3GP or 3G2 file to. This is really helpful if you're not sure what file extension the file should have for your device. You can pick from presets like Android, Xbox, PS3, BlackBerry, iPad, iPhone, and others.

Important: You cannot usually change a file extension (like the 3GP/3G2 file extension) to one that your computer recognizes and expect the newly renamed file to be usable.

In most cases, an actual file format conversion using one of the methods described above must take place.

However, since they both use the same codec, you might have luck renaming a 3GP or 3G2 file to one with the .MP4 extension if the device you want to play the file on is a little picky in that regard. The same is true for .3GPP files.