Bluetooth 5 Explained, As Well As Beacons & Other Bluetooth Questions

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Last April, I explained the difference between various iterations of Bluetooth, spanning 3.0 to 4.2. Earlier this year, I updated that article to share a tidbit on the newest version, Bluetooth 5. However, many of you still had questions regarding the global wireless communication standard. So this article will address your primary concerns and explain Bluetooth 5, how it differs from its predecessors, what it can really do, and what devices you can find it in. Here is our “Bluetooth 5 Explained” article.

Bluetooth 5 Explained, As Well As Beacons & Other Bluetooth Questions

First to note, here’s a brief breakdown. Bluetooth 3.0, also known as high speed,  is significantly faster than Bluetooth 2.0. Bluetooth 4.0 was developed improved connectivity and range with the addition of Low Energy protocol, which allowed smart devices to remain connected for longer periods of time without draining the battery. Bluetooth 4.1 technology, which is featured in quite a few headphones like Sennheiser HD 1 earbuds and others, better manages their power and that of the device they are paired to by automatically powering up and down based on a power plan. If you feel like you still need more information on the each version of Bluetooth please refer to my article “The Difference Between Bluetooth 3.0, 4.0, 4.1, 4.2, & 5.0 Explained.”

Bluetooth 5 Explained

The latest rendition of Bluetooth drastically improves the reach, capacity, speed, and amount of energy consumed while using the wireless form of communication.

Bluetooth 5 is incredibly fast – like lightning fast. It processes connections at 2 times the speed over 4 times the range handling over 8 times the amount of data. Let’s put that in perspective, Bluetooth 4.0 is said to reach a distance of about 33 to 66 feet (indoors) depending on location, walls, etc. Though, this range can vary and increase to nearly 200 feet (outside) depending on the device as well as locale. With Bluetooth 5.0 the range is quadrupled meaning you’ll get about 200 feet of coverage indoors. With speed and the capacity of data greatly increased you can expect better usability with high-performance devices. The IoT is hugely the reason behind Bluetooth 5. This new and highly optimized version of Bluetooth will allow for multiple devices to talk to one another without interference.

According to Trusted Reviews, your older devices can probably pair with other Bluetooth 5.0 devices, but it may not be able to reap all those beautiful benefits. Also, I think this means you may have to buy all new gear with Bluetooth 5 in order to do so.

Beacons

The increased broadcast message size also means more data can be transmitted. In my previous article I mentioned the use of beacons (or iBeacons, a standard developed by Apple Inc.). A beacon is basically a Bluetooth transmitter in the physical world that is able to pick up on portable, Bluetooth devices. It is able to do so over Bluetooth LE. Beacons use sensing technology to communicate with mobile apps on smart devices by picking up on their location and proximity and send information. So, how would this work in the physical world. retailers can use beacons to track your location in their store and possibly send coupons to your phone as well as learn more about their customer base. As Bluetooth 5.0 becomes the new standard we are bound to see and hear more about beacons.

Bluetooth 5 Ready Devices

As of yet, I know of one Bluetooth 5 equipped device and it is also the first smartphone to have it – the Samsung Galaxy S8. Surprise surprise! Assuming this phone won’t explode, I’m actually quite excited to see how this phone will fair with the upgrade.

Questions We’ve Received From Readers

Can I use my Bluetooth 3.0 headphones on a 4.1 Bluetooth iPhone? / I have an iPad air 2 which is Bluetooth 4.2, I want to buy a set of Bluetooth headphones which are 4.0 can anyone tell me if they will pair okay. Cheers

Yes. Bluetooth devices are backwards compatible. However, as I mentioned above, there is a possibility Bluetooth 5 will work with your older devices, but you won’t experience as fast data transmission, range, etc.

Can Bluetooth v4.2 or 5.0 improve sound quality by using a less compressed sound equaling the sound of a wired headset?

Bluetooth quality doesn’t necessarily improve the audio quality since it is not part of the hadware (driver) and housing that actually affects the acoustics and so forth in your headphones. However, a more sophisticated version of Bluetooth improves the quality of data transmission – more data is sent faster and farther. A better connection means lossless audio and thus a better listening experience.

Do you have more questions abut Bluetooth 5? Let us know and we can address them in an updated version of our “Bluetooth 5 Explained” article.