With all the iPhone's advanced features, it's easy to forget about the "i" that started it all -- the hard-disk based, click-wheel iPod. Released in 2001, the original iPod did one thing -- play music files in MP3 and other formats. Over the years, Apple has expanded its portable device line to include the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, and every device includes iPod functionality.
MP3 Format Compatibility
The iPhone can play back just about any MP3 file that you load onto it. This includes support for constant bit rate MP3s from 8 to 320 kilobits per second. The MP3 player built into the iPhone also supports VBR MP3 files that are encoded with a variable bit rate, potentially giving them the same sound quality as a high-bit rate file but with a smaller file size. The iPhone can also use MP3 files as ringtones.
Other Music Formats
Apple builds support for many other formats into the iPhone. It can play back unencoded Advanced Audio Coding files at bit rates from 8 to 320 kbps as well as iTunes AAC files with digital rights management and HE-AAC files. For the highest sound quality, you can also use Apple lossless, AIFF or WAV format files, all of which can be saved without compression that throws away audio data.
Downloading and Streaming
You can add additional music to your iPhone over its wireless Internet connection. Apple builds in support for the iTunes Music Store, and you can connect to other music stores as well. Third-party apps such as Pandora, Slacker Radio and iHeart Radio stream additional music to your iPhone over the Internet.
Other Supported Media
The Apple iPhone can play back more than just MP3 and related-format music files. It has a built-in player for Audible format audio books. The iPhone is also a video player, supporting H.264 video, MPEG-4 video and Motion JPEG formats. You can also view images on it in JPEG, GIF and TIFF formats.
This article refers to the iPhone 5 with iOS 6. Information may differ with other models and versions.
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