There’s a camera that’s making an unexpected comeback with Gen Z users on social media. With 3 megapixel resolution and no flash, the 2009 iPhone 3GS is experiencing a renaissance.
Apple may have released an improved 48-megapixel main camera in the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max last September to critical acclaim, but in recent months younger users have been obsessed with the device instead. 13 year old iPhone photo. 3GS.
Over Thanksgiving weekend, Gen Z icon Nicola Peltz Beckham proudly posted a series of photos all taken with her iPhone 3GS camera.
But the true resurrection of the iPhone 3GS is best seen on TikTok, which has become one of the major social media platforms influencing camera trends today.
@hypebae iPhone 14 Pro vs iPhone 3GS. 👀 (Video: @Daniel Sin) #techbae #iphone #apple #iphone14pro #iphone3gs #iphonecamera ♬ original sound – HYPEBAE
Last week, a clip posted by tech influencer Daniel Sin compared the iPhone 3GS camera to today’s iPhone 14 Pro and garnered over 6.5 million views.
The overwhelming consensus from TikTok viewers was that the iPhone 3GS camera was somehow “better” than the iPhone 14 Pro.
“The 3GS beats the iPhone 14 pro every time,” wrote one viewer. Others complimented the “vintage” look of the iPhone 3GS, calling it “a vibe”. Another user said he would “buy an iPhone 3GS just for the aesthetics.”
The accolades for the older iPhone model don’t end there. On TikTok, the #iphone3gs hashtag has over 44.5 million views.
@technostrefa Can you see the difference in the iPhone 13 Pro 🆚 iPhone 3GS (2009) #iphone ♬ NO SNITCHING (with Dusty Locane) – Lil Mabu & DUSTY LOCANE
A clip comparing the iPhone 3GS to the iPhone 13 Pro has over 20.8 million views, with TikTok users also agreeing that the older camera from 2009 “wins”.
In other widely shared videos, TikTok users proudly show off photos and videos they’ve taken on their iPhone 3GS cameras.
@andyyto iPhone 3GS in Yosemite #iphone3gs #yosemite ♬ Best I’ve ever had – Drake
Nostalgia is king
Nostalgia rules when it comes to Gen Z tastes in cameras. In recent years, this market has seen a younger subset of creators look to camera technology from the past for inspiration.
More recently, PetaPixel reported that the point-and-shoot digital cameras of the early 2000s were making a comeback on social media.
Additionally, the recent resurgence of film photography and disposable cameras can largely be attributed to younger users.
Even the sudden rise of TikTok’s “most popular camera”, the Fujifilm X100V, can be linked to its reputation online as a digital camera that mimics an old film camera.
Against this backdrop, the emergence of older iPhone models as the latest camera obsession of Gen Z comes as no surprise.
The iPhone 3GS is particularly popular with TikTok users due to the camera’s “vintage aesthetic” as well as the model’s place in iPhone photography history.
Apple unveiled the iPhone 3GS in June 2009, and the company sold over one million units in its first weekend.
The iPhone 3GS saw an upgrade from the 2MBP camera on the original iPhone in 2007 and the iPhone 3G in 2008. The camera on the iPhone 3GS was upgraded to 3 megapixels. It could also shoot video for the first time and offer autofocus, although it still didn’t bring any type of flash.
The iPhone 3GS was also the last iPhone model to have only one camera. That changed when Apple released the iPhone 4 with its front-facing camera in 2010, unleashing selfies on the world and changing the culture of everyday photography forever.
The iPhone 3GS stands out for young users because it is a perfect reminder of a simpler, pre-selfie digital age.
@andyyto iPhone 13 Pro Max vs iPhone 3GS #iphone13promax #iphone3gs #dumbo ♬ Everything falls – Kanye West
Gen Z finds solace in the not-too-distant aesthetic of the iPhone 3GS with its softer focus and muted tones.
In TikTok videos comparing the iPhone 3GS to new Apple models, viewers have criticized how the modern smartphone camera overly sharpens and clarifies an image. While the colors of a modern iPhone photograph may look crisp, a photo taken on the iPhone 3GS looks more “real”.
The resurgence of the iPhone 3GS appears to be part of a larger Gen Z trend that sees younger users experimenting with cameras on older iPhones.
@ericastolmandowdy ngl I’m shook… #influencersecrets #influencertips #iphone8 #phonecameratips #influencertiktok ♬ so we dance remix – Rachel Giraudo
In a TikTok video, influencer Erica Stolman Dowdy claimed that using an old iPhone to take photos is a “secret camera that influencers don’t want you to know about”.
In the clip, Dowdy shows the difference between photos on his new iPhone 13 and his favorite camera on his iPhone 8, released in 2017.
TikTok users agreed with Dowdy, with one user commenting, “I knew it! My photos with the iPhone 7 were much better.
Few would have expected the iPhone 3GS’s camera memory to spread beyond 2009 – certainly not the photo community. Depending on how big this trend is, the iPhone 3GS could be the first of many older iPhone cameras that could experience a renaissance.
Picture credits: Header photo elements licensed via Depositphotos.
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