Home

 › 

Vs.

 › 

Bluetooth 4 vs. 5: What’s the Difference and Is One Better?

bluetooth connection

Bluetooth 4 vs. 5: What’s the Difference and Is One Better?

Bluetooth technology has facilitated wireless connections between devices and the transfer of files for over two decades. People have widely used it since the first Bluetooth-enabled device was introduced in 1999. Since then, numerous versions have been released, with the latest version being Bluetooth v5.3.

Each Bluetooth version has included incremental changes that make it better than the previous version. So, it can be somewhat challenging and tedious to keep up with all the improvements made to the technology.

This article provides an in-depth comparison of Bluetooth 4 and 5, highlighting the similarities and comparing the differences to determine which version will suit you better.

Bluetooth 4 vs. 5: Side-by-Side Comparison

Bluetooth 4Bluetooth 5
Release DateDecember 2009July 2016
Transmission Rate1 Mbps2 Mbps
Range164 ft. (50 m) outdoors656.2 ft. (200 m) outdoors
CompatibilityDevices compatible with Bluetooth 4Any Bluetooth-enabled device
Message Capacity31 bytes255 bytes

Bluetooth 4 vs. 5: What’s the Difference?

Previous versions like Bluetooth 4 perform numerous functions effortlessly. However, the version is over a decade old, and some changes were needed to make the technology better suited for current technological advancements. The answer was Bluetooth 5.

Join us as we provide a detailed comparison of the Bluetooth 4 and 5 versions.

Transmission Rate

Transmission rate refers to the amount of data you can send or receive via a communication channel within a specific time. People commonly use the term when referring to wireless technologies such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. In other words, the transmission rate is simply called internet speed when talking about Wi-Fi and transfer speeds when discussing Bluetooth.

The transmission rate of Bluetooth technologies has steadily improved over the years. The first Bluetooth version had a transmission rate of less than 1 Mbps. Bluetooth version 4 has a transmission rate of 1 Mbps, while Bluetooth version 5 has twice the transmission rate at 2 Mbps.

Bluetooth v5’s transfer rate makes it ideal for the growing Internet of Things (IoT) technology industry. It can send data between smart devices faster, which also helps improve power efficiency, especially on battery-powered devices. 

Range

Range is an integral factor when looking at a Bluetooth-enabled device. A shorter range can be a significant inconvenience because it limits you to sticking within a specified radius to access the service. On the other hand, a longer range has numerous benefits, including offering stronger connections in areas with obstacles or numerous radio frequencies.

Similar to transmission rates, Bluetooth has vastly improved transmission range. Bluetooth v1 had a restricting range of 10m, meaning you had to be close to the transmitting device for a stable connection. The range of Bluetooth v4 is vastly better at around 60m outdoors and 10m indoors. 

On the other hand, Bluetooth v5 has a range of 240m outdoors and 40m indoors. Bluetooth v5’s range can be beneficial, especially in environments like an office space where there could easily be tens or hundreds of Bluetooth-enabled devices. You can rely on the connection remaining robust even with other Bluetooth devices using the frequency band.

Device Compatibility

Device compatibility is another crucial factor to consider when buying a Bluetooth-enabled device. The device compatibility of a particular Bluetooth version dictates which devices it can pair with, which can be restrictive. Moreover, pairing devices with different Bluetooth versions can interfere with data transmission, resulting in slower transmission rates.

Bluetooth v4 is not a recommendable version to have on your device. That is because devices with Bluetooth v4 can only work with other Bluetooth v4-enabled devices. On the other hand, Bluetooth v5 is backward compatible, meaning a device with version 5 can pair with any Bluetooth-enabled device regardless of its Bluetooth version.

However, when pairing a Bluetooth v5 device and a Bluetooth v2 device, do not expect to enjoy all of the former’s features and specifications. The Bluetooth v5-enabled device will lower its output parameters to try and match the Bluetooth v2 devices. In such a situation, you might experience issues like poor audio synchronization when playing music.

Power Consumption

Power consumption is a crucial factor to consider when looking for a Bluetooth-enabled device. High power consumption can drain a device’s battery quickly, interfering with its ability to perform required tasks. On the other hand, power consumption is one of the factors that can significantly influence the performance of Bluetooth services.   

Power consumption is directly proportional to transmitting power, which in turn influences range. Therefore, the preferred Bluetooth version should balance power consumption for improved battery life while simultaneously supporting transmitting power.

Both Bluetooth v4 and v5 run on the Bluetooth LE platform engineered to deliver high performance at reduced energy consumption rates. Bluetooth LE implemented several measures to lower power consumption. They include reducing radio communications, increasing the technology’s sleep cycles, and introducing adaptive transmitting power levels.

However, Bluetooth v4 still manages to consume more power than Bluetooth v5. That is because Bluetooth v4 is older and relies on older hardware, such as chips and older firmware, which is less efficient than that used in version 5.

Internet of Things Support

Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the interconnection of ordinary objects and appliances through the internet, enabling said objects to send and receive data transmissions. One of the technologies that help facilitate IoT is Bluetooth.

Bluetooth v4 was the first version of the technology designed to support IoT. However, at the time of Bluetooth v4’s introduction, IoT was still nascent. That means the version had limited scope regarding the level of support it could offer. 

On the other hand, Bluetooth v5 launched at a time when the technology industry had ascertained with some degree of confidence the direction of IoT technology. As such, Bluetooth v5 is better equipped to support IoT. For example, the increased indoor and outdoor range means devices further away from each other can easily communicate. In addition, the higher transmission rate also means connected devices can transmit large data packets faster than ever.

bluetooth
Bluetooth has been instrumental in the connection of our devices, and the newest versions continuously improve on that.

Release Date and Versions

As noted earlier, Bluetooth connectivity was first introduced in 1999. Since then, the team behind the technology has introduced numerous versions, including v4 and v5. Let’s briefly review them below.

Bluetooth Version 4

Bluetooth v4 was unveiled in December 2009, with numerous gadgets adopting it before the end of 2010. This version ushered in the era of Bluetooth Smart, now known as Bluetooth Low Energy (LE). This new platform guaranteed faster transmission rates while also keeping power consumption low compared to previous Bluetooth versions. 

Bluetooth doubled down on the progress achieved by Bluetooth v4 by improving it and introducing Bluetooth v4.1 in December 2013. When using Bluetooth v4, some devices sometimes experienced connection interferences when close to a device running technologies that use similar radio frequencies, such as 4G signals. Bluetooth v4.1 minimized the severity of the issue by enhancing the coexistence of Bluetooth technologies with other communication channels, particularly 4G signals. 

The next iteration of Bluetooth v4 was Bluetooth v4.2, launched in December 2014. Version 4.2 introduced Internet Protocol Support Profile (IPSP), which is a specification that enables the exchange of IPv6 packets between devices using Bluetooth LE. As a result, Bluetooth v4.2 significantly improved IPv6 connectivity, which benefited the uptake of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Bluetooth Version 5

Bluetooth v5 would follow the last iteration of Bluetooth v4. Released in July 2016, Bluetooth v5 had numerous improvements over Bluetooth v4 that were discussed earlier in the article. There are three more iterations of Bluetooth v5.

The first, Bluetooth v5.1, was introduced in July 2019. The main addition to this version was Bluetooth Direction Finding. It is a feature that improves a device’s capabilities of finding Bluetooth LE signals. It uses the Angle of Arrival (AoA) and Angle of Departure (AoD) to ascertain the direction of a signal within an indoor setting. Consequently, the technology improved object tracking and person identification, especially in large buildings.

The next version released was Bluetooth v5.2, which arrived in December 2019. Version 5.2 introduced Enhanced Attribute Protocol (EATT), which allows simultaneous data transfers between connected devices. The feature reduces the time multiple devices need to share information.

The latest Bluetooth v5 iteration is Bluetooth v5.3, which came out in July 2021. The version introduced several new features, including Enhanced Periodic Advertising. The feature allows a device to send several data packets containing identical data to increase the likelihood the data will be received.

Other improvements in Bluetooth v5.3 include enhancements to Encryption Key Size Control. This improves data encryption, limiting an external party’s ability to access shared data by connected devices. Version 5.3 also has Connection Subrating, a feature that allows quick shifts between low-duty and high-duty cycles. 

Low-duty cycles consume less power than high-duty cycles. The shift between the two cycles is necessary when you have multiple Bluetooth devices, with some using low-duty cycles to operate while others use high-duty cycles to conduct their main functions.

Bluetooth 4 vs. 5: 5 Must-Know Facts

  • Bluetooth transmits data in the 2.4GHz unlicensed industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) frequency band.
  • Bluetooth LE is a low-power audio transmission technology introduced with Bluetooth v4 that improves data range, connectivity, and security.
  • Bluetooth LE sends data via 40 channels with 2MHz spacing, while Bluetooth Classic sends via 79 channels with 1MHz spacing.  
  • Bluetooth v4 has a transmission range of 10 meters indoors and 60 meters outdoors.
  • Bluetooth v5 is backward compatible with previous versions.

Bluetooth 4 vs. 5: Which One is Better?

Bluetooth has become a ubiquitous technology in our increasingly interconnected world. It allows devices to create links that facilitate data exchanges vital to even some of the most ordinary tasks like listening to audio.

The introduction of Bluetooth v4 and v5 over the years further entrenched the importance of the technology to society. Ultimately, Bluetooth v5 is, without a doubt, the better version than Bluetooth v4. It has better specifications, such as a longer range, faster data transmission rates, lower power consumption, and better device compatibility.

Given the choice, you should opt for Bluetooth v5 without hesitation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes Bluetooth v5 better for audio than Bluetooth v4?

The most significant factor that gives Bluetooth v5 the edge over Bluetooth v4 is its range. Bluetooth v5 has about four times the range of Bluetooth v4. That means you can transmit audio signals over greater distances, which is ideal for large event venues.

How many Bluetooth connections does Bluetooth v5 support?

A Bluetooth v5-enabled device can pair with up to seven different devices simultaneously. However, it is advisable to limit connected devices to three or four.

What can weaken a Bluetooth connection?

The presence of numerous Wi-Fi signals close to a Bluetooth connection can cause interference. That is because Wi-Fi signals take up a lot of frequencies within the spectrum, thus limiting the ability of a Bluetooth connection to find an open frequency.

What are the vulnerabilities of Bluetooth?

Bluetooth connections are susceptible to several forms of hacking. They include Bluesnarfing, a cyberattack that gains access to a device’s private information, such as emails, photos, and calendar appointments. Another is Bluejacking, which can send malicious data to a target device.

How can I keep my data safe when using Bluetooth?

Avoid pairing Bluetooth devices in public spaces unless absolutely necessary to avoid giving access to hackers. You should also avoid leaving your Bluetooth on when not in use as it exposes your device to exploitation.

To top