Difference between AVI and 3GP

Key difference: Both, AVI and 3GP are file formats mainly used for playing videos with audios. AVI and 3GP are not encoding formats, but are container files, i.e. basically wrappers for formatted video files. The main difference between the two comes not from the formats itself, but from the types of codecs used within the files. Furthermore, AVI was designed to be played on various platforms, such as computers, television, DVD players, portable video players, etc.; whereas, 3GP was designed specifically for phones.

Both, AVI and 3GP are file formats mainly used for playing videos with audios. However, what most people do not realize that AVI and 3GP are not encoding formats, but are container files, i.e. basically wrappers for formatted video files. The main difference between the two comes not from the formats itself, but from the types of codecs used within the files. Furthermore, AVI was designed to be played on various platforms, such as computers, television, DVD players, portable video players, etc.; whereas, 3GP was designed specifically for phones.

AVI stands for Audio Video Interleave. It was included as part of the Video for Windows technology. It was developed by Windows in reprisal for the MOV file format, developed by Apple computers. Similar to MOV, AVI contains both audio and video data in a file container, which allowed for synchronous audio-with-video playback.

A container file specifies how the data streams inside it are organized. The actual organization and representation of the data streams are done by the various types of codecs (encoder/decoder). It is the codecs that affects video quality and compression. It describes how video or audio data is to be compressed and decompressed. Each AVI file will differ only on the basis of which codec is used. Hence, two AVI file can either be similar if they are using the same codec, or they can be completely different, if they are using different codecs.

However, at the time of its development, AVI did not have the sophistication of QuickTime, nor its advanced features. Microsoft later opened the format to OpenDML group in order to develop it. Eventually, Microsoft dropped the AVI format in favor of their WMV format. AVI, in turn, later became the format of choice for pirated movies, probably due to the simplicity of the program.

Generally, AVI tends to be larger than most video formats. This is mainly due to minimal compression features available. Also, depending on the codecs, an AVI file may support multiple video or audio streams. Currently, AVI is the most popular and commonly used file format. It is supported by many video players, as well as some mobile devices.

3GP is a multimedia container format mainly for 3G UMTS multimedia services. It was developed by the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP). It is commonly used on 3G mobile phones; however, some 2G and 4G phones use it as well.

3GP is part of the 3GPP Standards and is a container file for various audio and video file formats. It was designed and is still mainly used for IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS), Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS), Multimedia Broadcast/Multicast Service (MBMS) and Transparent end-to-end Packet-switched Streaming Service (PSS).

Similar to the MP4 container file format, 3GP was also based on the ISO base media file format defined in MPEG-4 Part 12. However, older versions of the 3GP file format did not use some of its features. Most 3GP files use the filename extension .3gp; however some cell phones use the extension .mp4 for the same 3GP files.

The 3GP file format was designed mainly for GSM-based phones. The format was designed to decrease storage and bandwidth requirements in order for the video/audio files to be accommodated for mobile phones

Usually the 3GP container file contains H.263 (MPEG-4 Part 2) encoded video; however H.264 (MPEG-4 Part 10/ AVC) encoded video are getting more common as well. In audio, 3GP usually contains various AMR, AAC and ACC+ formats.

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