[Updated] The Difference Between Bluetooth 3.0, 4.0, 4.1, 4.2, & 5.0 Explained

bluetooth differences

Updated 1/25/2016: What is the difference between Bluetooth standards has just gotten a bit more complicated with the introduction of Bluetooth 5.0. But don’t fret, we’ve got you covered!

What is the difference between Bluetooth 3.0 and 4.1 is an all too common question when it comes to wireless devices. Does that mean it has better connection over a longer distance? Buyers often jump to that conclusion – a higher number means better connectivity – and while that may be partially true, it’s not the sole purpose of the upgrade.

The Difference Between Bluetooth Grades Explained

Difference Between Bluetooth 3.0 and 4.0, 4.1, & 4.2 Explained

Bluetooth technology is a global wireless communication standard that allows for the exchange of data over a certain distance.

Bluetooth 3.0

Bluetooth 3.0, also known as high speed,  is significantly faster than Bluetooth 2.0. Many wireless headphones operate with 3.0 technology which allows for a faster transfer rate at 20 megabits per second, as well as enhanced power control.

This means that a smartphone can adjust to operate at the minimum power level needed to still retain a quality connection with your wireless headphones. Moreover, while still increasing the power if the Bluetooth connection if you were to move the phone further from the headphones.

Bluetooth 4.0

When Bluetooth 4.0 was developed, the upgrade boasted a number of additional features like improved connectivity and range. However, what is most advantageous for audiophiles and really anyone especially interested in the internet of things is the Low Energy protocol.

Bluetooth 4.1

Bluetooth Low Energy protocol means you can rock your wireless Bluetooth headphones a lot longer. Bluetooth LE allows smart devices to remain connected for longer periods of time without draining the battery. Bluetooth 4.1 took LE to another level. The 4.1 technology, which is currently featured in headphones like the MEE x7 Plus earbuds and others, can better manage their power and that of the device they are paired to by automatically powering up and down based on a power plan. Older versions of Bluetooth technology often interfered with other wireless technology, like 4G LTE communication, but the latest development was also made to fix that problem.

Bluetooth 4.2

The latest iteration of Bluetooth is 4.2 technology. According to CSR, point two upgrade is said to dramatically increase speed 2.6x faster which means super speedy downloads that compared to older Bluetooth versions. I doubt whether there is any opposition to this feature. In addition privacy upgrades have been included, meaning system’s like Apple’s iBeacon can’t automatically track you unless you have enabled the system to do so with your device. Hmm… sounds like anti-Apple stalking technology.

The 4.2 technology is currently featured in the iPhone 6.

Bluetooth 5.0

This is the newest grade of Bluetooth that has very recently been released. Bluetooth 5.0 was designed specifically to provide lossless and secure communication as our gadgets and gizmos become more and more technologically advance. This includes the IoT (Internet of Things). How so? Bluetooth 5.0 is the fastest iteration. It processes connections at 2 times the speed over 4 times the range handling over 8 times the amount of data. This means the higher the speed the more responsive high-performance devices will be. The Increased broadcast message size also means more data can be transmitted.

As Bluetooth.com explains, “These features, along with improved interoperability and coexistence with other wireless technologies, continue to advance the IoT experience by enabling simple and effortless interactions across the vast range of connected devices.”

Check out reviews of Bluetooth headphones, and check out Audio46.com for a range of bluetooth headphones in nearly every style.

Compare the ranking of various headphones, earbuds and in-ear monitors using our tools.

Discuss this, and much more, over on our forum.

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Sade is a journalist talking all things tech. Contact: sade@majorhifi.com