Bluetooth 5: Everything You Need to Know

Bluetooth 5

With the growing popularity of wireless headsets and portable devices, Bluetooth is more common than ever.

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Even, according to the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), which oversees technology development, wants to make the branding of Bluetooth simpler and more accessible for the public.

The good news is that technology just got better. Bluetooth 5 is more powerful than ever, with enormous potential for the Internet of Things and wireless music listening.

In this article, we will bring you news about the latest and powerful version of Bluetooth. Read and enjoy!

What is Bluetooth 5?

Bluetooth 5 is the latest version of the Bluetooth wireless communication standard. It is regularly used for wireless headphones and other audio hardware, as well as wireless keyboards, mouse, and game controllers.

Bluetooth is also used to communicate between various smart homes and the Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

The new version of the Bluetooth standard means various improvements, but only when used with compatible devices.

In other words, you won’t immediately benefit from upgrading to a Bluetooth 5 phone if all of your Bluetooth accessories are designed for an older version of Bluetooth.

However, Bluetooth is backwards compatible, so you can continue to use existing and older Bluetooth 4.2 devices with a Bluetooth 5 phone.

And when you buy new Bluetooth 5 devices, they will work better with your Bluetooth 5 phone.

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Features of Bluetooth 5

Bluetooth Low Energy Consumption

It is key to note that all Bluetooth enhancements refer to the Bluetooth Low Energy specification introduced with Bluetooth 4.0, not the classic Bluetooth radio which consumes more power.

Bluetooth Low Energy is designed to lessen the power consumption of Bluetooth devices. It was initially used for portable devices, beacons, and other low-power devices, but it had severe limitations.

For example, wireless headsets could not communicate over Bluetooth Low Energy, so they had to use the Bluetooth classic standard which consumes more power.

With Bluetooth 5, all audio devices communicate via Bluetooth Low Energy, which means lower energy consumption and extended battery life. Several other types of devices will be able to communicate via Bluetooth Low Energy in the future.

Dual Audio

Bluetooth 5 also provides a new feature that allows you to play audio on two connected devices at the same time.

In other words, you can connect two pairs of wireless headphones to your phone and stream audio to both at the same time, all via standard Bluetooth. Or you can play the sound on two different speakers in different rooms.

You can even stream two various audio sources to two other audio devices at the same time so that two people would be able to listen to two separate pieces of music but streaming from the same phone.

This feature of the Samsung Galaxy S8 is known as “Dual Audio”. Just connect two Bluetooth audio devices to the phone, turn on the dual audio feature, and you’re good to go.

More Speed, Range and Performance

The main advantages of Bluetooth 5 are improved speed and longer range. In other words, it’s faster and can work at a greater distance than previous versions of Bluetooth.

Official marketing material for Bluetooth from the Bluetooth organization announces that Bluetooth 5 has four times the range, twice the speed and also eight times the messaging capacity of previous versions of Bluetooth. Also, these improvements apply to Bluetooth Low Energy, ensuring that devices can take advantage of them while saving power.

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With Bluetooth 5, devices can use data rates of up to 2 Mbps, which is twice as much as Bluetooth 4.2. The devices can also communicate at distances of up to 800 feet (or 240 meters) – four times the initial 200 feet (or 60 meters) allowed by Bluetooth 4.2. Nevertheless, walls and other obstacles will weaken the signal, such as with a Wi-Fi network.

The aptX compression standard already promises CD-quality sound at speeds below 1 Mbps, so speeds of 2 Mbps should provide even better wireless sound quality.

Technically, devices can choose between higher speeds or longer ranges. This “double speed” benefit comes in handy when you’re working up close and sending data back and forth.

The increased range would be best for Bluetooth beacons and other devices that need to send only a small amount of data or can send it slowly but want to communicate over longer distances. Both are low energy.

Devices can choose the one that makes the most sense. For example, wireless headsets could use a higher baud rate to transmit high-speed audio baud rates.

In contrast, wireless sensors and smart devices that only need to report their status data could choose a longer distance for long-distance communications.

And since they can use Bluetooth Low Energy while still benefiting from these advantages, they can operate with a much longer battery life than with a conventional Bluetooth standard which consumes more energy.

If you’d like to know more about the technical details, you can check the official Bluetooth 5 specifications online.

Device Compatibility

Today, you can get devices that support Bluetooth 5, such as iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, iPhone X, Samsung Galaxy S8, and future Android phones.

However, you will also need Bluetooth 5 gears. They are not yet widespread, but many manufacturers are working on releasing Bluetooth 5 compatible devices.

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Since Bluetooth is backwards compatible, your Bluetooth 5 and older devices will work together. It’s like switching to a new, faster Wi-Fi standard.

Even after you get a new router that supports speedier Wi-Fi, you need to update all your other devices as well. However, your old Wi-Fi enabled devices can still connect to the new router, only at a slower speed than the router supports.

If you can pick up an Android phone with Bluetooth 5 and Bluetooth 5 headphones, you will probably have a much better wireless audio experience than with the previous Bluetooth standard.

iPhone users can enjoy a good experience with Apple AirPods or Beats earphones thanks to the W1 chip, but now it is easier to get solid Bluetooth sound on Android too. Bluetooth 5 should even improve the iPhone’s wireless headphones if you decide to use a third-party Bluetooth 5 headset instead of an Apple headset with a W1 chip.

Conclusion

Bluetooth is everywhere and is becoming more and more common. What started as a way to connect headphones has evolved into a robust wireless protocol that connects everything from headphones to heart monitors, wearable devices, and weather stations.

The latest version of Bluetooth, Bluetooth 5, brings significant improvements, especially in low power modes. The goal is to get the technology ready for the next stream of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and if you already have an iPhone 8 or X, it’s on your phone.

We hope you enjoyed our article? If so, please help us share and also let us know your views and opinions in the comment section.

Fadehan Emmanuel
Moore is an Associate—Editor of TheXplorion. Got a NEWS TIP related to this story — or to anything else in the world of big tech? Please e-mail him: mooreplug[at]gmail.com. You can also connect with him via the connections below the box.