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Can You Use FaceTime on iPhone 3GS or iPhone 3G?

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FaceTime on iPhone 3GS?
image copyright Apple Inc.

Last Updated: April 24, 2014

Question: Can You Use FaceTime on iPhone 3GS or iPhone 3G?

Apple's FaceTime video and audio calling technology is one of the most exciting features on the device it's compatible with (iPhone 4 and up, 4th generation iPod touch and newer, and iPad 2 and up). It's so much in demand that Apple had to create an official Mac version, and it has spawned many imitators on Windows using third-party software.

But what about iPhones that came out before the 4? They can run the right version of the OS, but can you use FaceTime on the iPhone 3GS or 3G?

Answer:

Sorry to say this, iPhone 3GS and 3G owners, but FaceTime can't run on your phone (at least not officially) and probably never will. There are two major reasons for this:

  1. No Second Camera - The most central reason that FaceTime won't come to the 3GS or 3G is that those models have only one camera and it's on the back, while FaceTime requires a user-facing camera. The user-facing camera (the one above the screen on newer iPhone models) is needed to take video of you while also allowing you to see the person you're calling on the screen. While the 3GS or 3G's back camera could take video of you just fine, you wouldn't be able to see the person you're talking to—and there's not much point to a video chat then, is there?
  2. No App - Because their hardware doesn't support FaceTime, Apple doesn't make the FaceTime software available for either of these models, even with iOS 4 or higher installed. In fact, it hides the app on those models just so no one gets confused.

Works via Jailbreak/Cydia
That said, the software issue can be overcome by jailbreaking your phone and installing various third-party programs via the Cydia App Store. One such program is FaceIt-3GS. It's important to remember, though, that jailbreaking your phone can void your warranty or cause other problems and should only be done by tech savvy people comfortable taking risks (if you mess up your phone trying a jailbreak, don't say I didn't warn you).

Limitations On Cellular Networks
Just like FaceTime won't work on the iPhone 3G, it also won't work on the other kind of 3G: the cellular data network that the iPhone and iPad can connect to. For now at least, FaceTime only works on Wi-Fi networks. UPDATE: FaceTime has been updated to work on 3G and 4G networks, but it still doesn't work on the iPhone 3GS or 3G.

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