Types of Bluetooth: What are the differences?

Bluetooth technology is the foundation that has enabled a revolution in wireless connectivity. Different types of Bluetooth require little power to transmit audio or information through two devices. It is developed by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, a group that associates a conglomerate of companies belonging to the world of telecommunications, computers, and electronic equipment. Bluetooth allows data transmission between two devices located at a certain distance, using a wireless system that works with a 2.4 GHz bandwidth. We can use it to send or receive any type of file, such as music, data, or videos without the need for use cables.

Origins of bluetooth technology

Its origins date back to 1994 when the Ericsson company began researching a new method for sending files by phone, looking for a way to keep cost and power consumption low. Its name comes from Harald Blatand, a Norse king known for his ease of communication, and whose English translation would be Harold Bluetooth. Later, in 1999, a special group was created to advance Bluetooth technology: Special Interest Group (SIG). This association brought together several leading companies in the technology and telecommunications industries, such as Nokia, Intel, Ericsson, Toshiba, and IBM, which were later joined by Microsoft and Motorola, among others.

In the beginning, this technology worked mainly on mobile phones, as it provides a good option for free file transfer. Nowadays, its use has spread and we can find it in many electrical appliances, such as televisions, Bluetooth speakers or headphones GPS navigators, etc., it is even present in the most modern appliances.

Transmission speed and connectivity range

When Bluetooth technology was born, it could transmit data with a speed of 720 KBS, a surprising capacity for the time but which today seems ridiculous. After several generations, the different types of Bluetooth today have speeds of up to 24Mbs. The connection range is another aspect that has improved considerably. At first, they operated at distances of less than one meter, and currently, they can exceed 100 meters.

Types of Bluetooth

Bluetooth devices have two fundamental parts for their operation. The first is a radio device that is responsible for transmitting the signal. Second, a CPU that is responsible for processing digital signals. Bluetooth devices are classified into four classes according to their capacity:

  • Class 1: They have a connectivity range of up to 100 meters and a power consumption of 100 mW.
  • Class 2: Its connectivity range reaches 20 meters and has a power of 2.5 mW.
  • Class 3: Their range reaches 1 meter and they have a power of 1mW.
  • Class 4: They have a maximum range of 0.5 meters and a power of 0.5 mW.
differences of Bluetooth

Bluetooth technology versions

Bluetooth technology has several versions that have improved its performance considerably:

Bluetooth v1

The first Bluetooth receivers had version v1.0 and v1.0B. Nowadays they are already obsolete since they presented several connectivity problems between the devices. These versions were followed by Bluetooth 1.1 and 1.2, which began to be recognized as standard means for wireless data transmission. The transmission rate of the Bluetooth 1 versions revolved around 721 kbps.

Bluetooth V2

These types of Bluetooth allowed a faster and easier connection to users. They achieved automatic connection between various mobile devices, thanks to the addition of a menu that made it possible to select and detect other nearby devices with Bluetooth capability. Also, they added a higher transmission rate, hence the concept added to these types of Bluetooth: BR / EDR (Basic Rate / Enhanced Data Rate). In BR it was possible to transmit at 1 Mbps, while in EDR, the transfer increased to 2Mbps, and on rare occasions, it achieved a transfer close to 3Mbps. The Bluetooth 2.1 update brought an improvement focused on user security: Secure Simple Pairing (SSP). It allowed for better data filtering. They also introduced OLER Sub rating technology, which enabled lower energy consumption.

Bluetooth V3

The types of Bluetooth Bluetooth 3.0, launched in 2009, added the HS (High Speed) capability, which made it possible to transfer heavier data, such as videos or audio files, by having a faster transfer that reached 24 Mbps. They also added as an alternative the use of Wi-Fi for the transfer of very heavy data packets. This new feature was called the MAC / PHY alternative.

Bluetooth V4

This version was released in 2010 and featured 41 updates. And 4.2. Among the improvements is the novelty of Bluetooth Smart, which, apart from handling the previous features such as Bluetooth HS, adds Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology. This generates a lower energy consumption, something very useful for those devices designed for long uses. With the inclusion of the BLE concept, which enables longer synchronization, the reach of Bluetooth technology reached other devices, such as medical equipment, or performance trackers for athletes. The transfer rate has also improved and it is capable of transmitting from 25 Mbps to 32 Mbps.

The term Bluetooth Smart has that name because it handles information more intelligently. Rather than maintaining a constant flow of information, this update focuses on sending small data packets when needed, plus it switches the connection to sleep mode when not in use.

Bluetooth V5

This is the last version of Bluetooth that has been launched, and it has been available since the end of 2016. It is not yet used by most devices that are on the market, but it is expected that most of the smartphones launched in the last quarter of the year are already trained with this technology. This version considerably improves the data transfer rate, twice that of versions 4.1 and 4.2. In addition, it adds a connectivity range up to four times greater than that possible in previous versions. It also has the peculiarity of supporting several simultaneous connections for transmission between different Bluetooth devices.


The connection between different Bluetooth devices with different versions is possible as long as they are attached to the equipment that has the latest Bluetooth technology. In the case of Bluetooth 4, because they include a new protocol called BLE, we must look for those teams specially trained to handle Bluetooth Smart improvements. Devices that have the Bluetooth Smart Ready seal can be synchronized without problems using this version, as well as with Bluetooth devices of old versions. We also find some equipment with the Bluetooth Smart Device seal, which can only work with other equipment that is capable of Bluetooth Smart or Bluetooth LE.

Bluetooth codecs

All Bluetooth receivers handle certain encoding algorithms necessary to compress large audio files. Since we are talking about wireless technology, compression is the only way to send large audio files for real-time perception. The effectiveness of the codec determines the quality of the sound that we will hear. The standard codec that all Bluetooth devices designed for sound transmission have is SBC, but there are other higher-quality alternatives, such as AAC or aptX.

We have written a detailed guide about Bluetooth codecs on our Bestxpot. Do not hesitate to visit it if you are looking for information on the best audio equipment capable of Bluetooth technology, how to connect Bluetooth headphones to the TV, etc.

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