Comparing 5G to Bluetooth technology is like comparing apples to oranges. Both technologies are poles apart in their throughput, delay, latency, bandwidth, speed, power consumption, and applications. So, 5g vs Bluetooth, which is superior?
5G is a fifth-generation mobile network technology that replaces fourth-generation cellular networks. 3gpp developed it to provide users with more bandwidth, faster speeds, lower latency, lower bit error rate, and connectivity of more devices even in congested areas.
Bluetooth, on the other hand, is a short-range wireless technology that connects and communicates with various wireless devices such as watches, keyboards, headphones, and mobile phones. While their use may sometimes appear similar in terms of the devices they work with, they are different technologies. This guide discusses both technologies to help you understand their unique differences.
5G vs. Bluetooth: Side-by-side Comparison
|A next-gen mobile technology developed to boost internet speeds and facilitate IoT, AR, and VR.
|A technology used to connect and transfer data between devices.
|5th generation mobile network
|Enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC), and Massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC)
|Communication and data transfer between short-range devices
|450 MHz – 6GHz, 24 GHz – 52.6 GHz
|QAM, f-OFDM, SC-OFDM
|GFSK, DQPSK, 8-DPSK
|30 GHz to 300 GHz
|100 Mbps (average), 20 Gbps (peak)
|Tens of meters (Femtocell), Tens of meters (Pico cell), few hundred meters (Microcell), and hundreds of meters (Metro cell)
|Normally (10-60 meters) with Bluetooth 5.0 (240 meters)
|5G sim and antenna
|Mobile phones, tablets, hotspots, wearables and more
|Laptops, mobile phones, mouse, jeyboard, tablets, gaming consoles, audio devices
5G vs. Bluetooth: What’s the Difference?
Despite the constant emergence of new technologies like 5G, some old technologies like Bluetooth remain relevant. Although they are both wireless technologies, they are very different.
5G cellular technology was first introduced in July 2016 and became widely available in 2019, following the success of 4G LTE. This network divides coverage area into small geographical radiuses known as cells, which vary in type and size depending on the needs and services provided. ITU-R classifies services into three types:
- eMBB (Enhanced Mobile Broadband): produces higher throughput, increased capacity, and faster connectivity. Ideal for crowded areas such as stadiums, concert venues, and malls.
- URLLC (Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communications): for mission-critical applications that require seamless connectivity and low latency.
- mMTC (Massive Machine Type Communications): for improved connectivity of up to 50 billion IoT devices, such as drones.
Bluetooth has been around for about two decades. It’s great for communicating with short-range devices like smartwatches, wireless headphones, head mount displays, printers, cameras, medical equipment, and more.
Comparing the coverage areas of both technologies, it is clear that 5G has a greater range than Bluetooth. But how far can it go?
With the help of MIMO-enabled BTS, 5G divides the geographical area into small cells (base transceiver station). BTS’s transmission power, frequency, and wavelength determine the range of cells. Interference of the air medium or any other signal could affect the coverage area.
A 5G BTS tower could thus cover a mall, stadium, multi-story building, or even multiple city blocks spanning several kilometers. A 5G network is typically divided into the following cells:
- Femto Cell: It has a range of tens of meters.
- Pico Cell: It also has a ten-meter range.
- Micro Cell: Covers a few hundred meters
- Metro Cell: Can be used for hundreds of meters.
Bluetooth’s range is no match for 5G network coverage. Bluetooth 5.0 can only go up to 240 meters, or about 800 feet. Its normal range stands between 60 to 320 feet. This range, however, is optimal for its use with various computer peripherals, wearable entertainment, security, and healthcare devices.
Because 5G signals travel longer distances at higher speeds and carry more data,they requires more power than Bluetooth. This power requirement manifests itself on both the tower and mobile ends. Nevertheless, 5G employs various techniques to reduce energy consumption, including sleep mode and increased software efficiency. These techniques are used on both BTS and mobile devices.
On the other hand, Bluetooth is used to communicate with shorter-range devices and small amounts of data, so it consumes little power on both the transmitting and receiving ends.
The operating frequency is a critical factor in wireless communication, whether it is Wi-Fi, mobile networks, or Bluetooth. Both 5G and Bluetooth operate on different frequency spectrums. The main difference is that Bluetooth operates on an unlicensed band, whereas 5G operates on a regulated band that varies by country.
The frequency bands in 5G are divided into three categories:
- High-frequency range: 24.25–43.5 GHz
- Mid-frequency band: 3300-4900 MHz
- Lower frequency range: 600 MHz–2.6 GHz.
The Bluetooth frequency band works on unlicensed frequencies ranging from 2.42 to 2.48 GHz. Compared to 5G technology, this frequency band is highly susceptible to air interference and supports low data rates.
Bluetooth employs frequency hopping with the ‘hope’ that short-range devices can create a small personal area network based on a pico cell. This allows short-range devices to communicate and even transfer audio, video, and data files.
Technological advances we see today are solely the result of our increasing demand for high data rates. We ise various techniques to help meet these demands, ranging from efficient frequency use to implementing new modulation methods and different power-efficient techniques.
Bluetooth 5.0 standard can achieve data rates of up to 50 Mbps, which is more than enough to transmit data between short-range devices such as smart watches, home appliances, and healthcare wearables.
Higher data rates are becoming necessary for modern-day application needs, whether transmitted over the internet or between devices. While 5G supports bandwidth-intensive applications, data rates of up to 20 Gbps are possible. Due to the high data rate, this technology is inactive for online gaming, VR, AI, AR, and other future applications.
Both technologies support unique applications. Bluetooth allows us to connect with short-range devices such as a wireless thermometer or a Bluetooth printer. Its primary applications include Healthcare, Business, Education, and Entertainment. We see its use in essential devices like headphones and speakers.
5G, with higher data rates and higher bandwidth, supports various applications in healthcare, disaster recovery, entertainment, and even education. Specifically, 5G supports vehicles that drive themselves, disaster recovery in virtual reality, Augmented Reality, the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, and lots more.
5G vs. Bluetooth: 6 Must-know Facts
- 5G and Bluetooth are wireless technologies, but 5G covers a larger area and Bluetooth is limited to a short range.
- Bluetooth can only transfer data between nearby devices, whereas 5G can send large files to distant users.
- 5G networks and Bluetooth provide voice and data connectivity, but their range and data rates differ.
- Bluetooth networks have lower bandwidth, shorter distances, and higher latency than 5G networks.
- 5G networks divide physical locations into multiple cell sizes based on their needs. Bluetooth only provides a single Pico cell created by the device while working in a personal area network.
- 5G technology consumes a lot of power than Bluetooth. However, various power-saving techniques such as sleep mode and software efficiency helps bring reduce consumption.
5G vs. Bluetooth: Which is Better?
Undoubtedly, 5G dominates the market thanks to its unrivaled speed, bandwidth, security, low latency, and broad application support. However, Bluetooth leverages its history and remains popular due to its interoperability, low power consumption, ease of use, simple connectivity, and straightforward nature.
Not only will 5G change the current internet ecosystem, but it will bring futuristic and innovative solutions for all human needs. New applications that require more bandwidth, faster data rates, low latency, and better coverage will benefit from 5G. Bluetooth will remain unrivaled in the unlicensed spectrum and short-range application domains.
Although 5G is the new kid on the block, it has a lot of potential to meet current and future user needs. You can watch a live stream, play an online game, participate in a video conference, or watch the FIFA World Cup with AR/VR gadgets simultaneously. Bluetooth, on the other hand, is not something we can easily dismiss, as it continues to serve people in various domains like health care and entertainment.
Ultimately, both technologies have their importance and applications. It is up to us to determine which technology is required in which situation.
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