Technology is continuously evolving, so is Bluetooth that has been a wireless communication solution for quite some time.
Almost every device, from smartphones to computers, have Bluetooth installed in it, which makes it possible to use wireless devices such as headphones, keyboards, mice, and so on.
The era of a true wireless technology is coming closer with an updated version of Bluetooth and this opens a lot of possibilities for future devices. So here’s the differences between Bluetooth 4.2, 5.0, 5.1 and also what’s new.
Different Bluetooth Versions
- Release Date: December 2014
- Transfer Rate: 1 Mbps
- Range: 40 meters outdoors
- 10m indoors
A lot of devices today still use the Bluetooth 4.2 technology that was released back in December 2014. It has been a standard for smartphones to have Bluetooth in their software to easily transfer files between users.
However, it has come a long way since then and it is still used today. Bluetooth today is not only used for transferring files but also for wirelessly connecting devices such as earbuds, speakers, etc.
The range of Bluetooth 4.2 is up to 40 meters outdoors and 10 meters indoors. While not that great, it can still be useful for people who use Bluetooth mice and earphones in close proximity.
With its 1 Mbps speed, it can do simple tasks at ease, although users sometimes suffer from latency issues when they use Bluetooth connected devices separated by a wall.
Due to the low range of 10 meters indoors and a transfer rate of only 1 Mbps, Bluetooth 4.2 has latency and interference issues when used in different rooms inside a house.
Apps that rely on Bluetooth to pinpoint the location of another device do not give accurate results.
They can only provide measurements based on the strength of the Bluetooth signal, and only down to an approximate location.
- Release Date: December 2016
- Transfer Rate: 2 Mbps
- Range: 200 meters outdoors, 40 meters indoors
The new and improved Bluetooth 5.0 version, which was released two years after Bluetooth 4.2, had some interesting new features. These made Bluetooth more effective for people who use wireless devices.
Its connection can reach up to 2 Mbps in optimum conditions, which is twice as fast as the previous version. This means that there are fewer issues in relation to speed.
Latency Issues Resolved
More commonly known by people as “lag”, latency issues are often unavoidable in certain cases. However, since Bluetooth 5.0 has increased its transfer rate to 2 Mbps, as compared to 1 Mbps of the previous version.
If using this version of Bluetooth you will experience fewer latency issues and enjoy better audio and video quality among your devices connected via Bluetooth.
Better Quality of Sound
Aside from fewer lags and delays between your Bluetooth devices, you can also experience a better quality sound and video with the improved Bluetooth 5.0 version. The faster speed helps in transmitting higher quality data without the worry of lags or delays in the wireless connection.
All versions of Bluetooth are restricted by distance, which can hamper the quality of the transfer. However, with Bluetooth 5.0, you can enjoy the same quality at even further distances than with the previous 4.2 version.
This is because this version of Bluetooth can connect to a device 200 meters away if outdoors, or up to 40 meters away if indoors.
Even if your Bluetooth devices are rooms apart, you can still get amazing sound quality. And, you would not need to worry about the walls hindering the transfer between your wireless devices. For those of us, who use wireless connections to maximize our device usage, this is certainly a great deal.
- Release Date: January 2019
- Transfer Rate: 2 Mbps
- Range: 200 meters outdoors, 40 meters indoors
Bluetooth 5.1 is the latest and the most sophisticated version of Bluetooth and consists of several additions, which have increased the quality of the user experience.
While there wasn’t much improvement in terms of the transfer rate and range between version 5.0 and 5.1, there have been other improvements in the functionality of this amazing technology.
With the newest version, the potential for even broader usage of this wireless connection solution is sure to increase tremendously in the coming years.
Better Direction Finding
While not all people are aware, you can actually use Bluetooth technology to locate your devices. By detecting the strength of the signal, a device can give an estimated radius of where the other device is.
In Bluetooth 4.2, it could give you a certain radius in meters of how far the other device is. This feature is improved in Bluetooth 5.1 to include the direction of where the other device is and not just an estimated radius.
Moreover, with improved direction-finding, you can get a more precise direction, down to centimeters!
This works if one of the devices has multiple antennas, and thus, can detect the Angle of Arrival (A0A) or Angle of Departure (AoD) and give an accurate position of where your devices are.
With the help of multiple antennas, a device can calculate the angle at which the other device is transmitting from, thus, helps the user find things quicker.
Less Power, Faster Connection
Bluetooth 5.0 already consumes less power compared to Bluetooth 4.2. However, with the new Bluetooth 5.1 update, you will experience a lesser consumption of energy compared to both of the previous versions. What this means for you is that you get to enjoy listening to your favorite music for longer periods of time.
This is possible thanks to the Generic Attribute Profile (GATT) caching enhancement, which performs service discovery when devices connect. It saves the information in the cache; thus, your device does not need to constantly keep checking what server it is using.
This will help to preserve the battery power and allow for using the device longer.
Improved Connection Advertising
A new feature that has been added to the Bluetooth 5.1 version is randomized advertising channel indexing.
The older version strictly cycles chronologically through channels 37, 38, and 39. However, with Bluetooth version 5.1, any channels can be chosen randomly.
This advancement allows a user to have multiple Bluetooth devices in one room without worrying about connection interference among the devices.
For example, your Bluetooth earbuds and Bluetooth speaker are less likely to share channels, and thus, you can experience less interference and better quality.
Reasons to Update Your Bluetooth to 5.1
If you are unsure whether to update your Bluetooth devices to the latest version, or you want to buy headphones with the latest Bluetooth version installed, here are a few things you would need to consider.
All the recently released and future smartphones get to enjoy the latest Bluetooth 5.1 technology. This includes the iPhone 8, iPhone X, Samsung Galaxy S8, and all newer released phones.
If you want a seamless audio and video experience, you definitely should upgrade your Bluetooth devices to the latest version. Aside from increased range, you can also get a faster transfer rate that will solve your latency issues and/or poor sound quality on your wireless devices.
Here is a quick run-through of all the reasons why you should get the updated version of Bluetooth:
- Better sound quality compared to previous versions
- Fewer lags between your devices for a seamless wireless experience
- Increased range between Bluetooth devices
- Strong Bluetooth connection despite walls indoors
- Less power consumption while having a faster transfer rate
- Better and more accurate direction finding to easily locate your devices
Frequently Asked Bluetooth 5.1 Questions
1. Is Bluetooth 5.1 compatible with my phone?
The good news is that Bluetooth 5.1 is backward compatible with older versions, thus, you can enjoy it with the older devices that you own. You do not have to worry about which version is installed on these devices. As long as the devices support Bluetooth at all, you can freely use them with each other.
However, if you need to experience the faster transfer rate and wider range available in Bluetooth 5.0 and 5.1, you can check if both the devices you are using are updated.
2. Can I use a Bluetooth 5.1 device with my Bluetooth 4.2 smartphone and vice versa?
You can connect two Bluetooth devices, such as headphones to a smartphone, or keyboard to a computer, with no issues.
However, you have to note that the connection will be based on the lowest version. For example, you can get Bluetooth 5.1 headphones and use them with your smartphone that has Bluetooth 4.2 with no problem. But you will not be able to enjoy the improved 2 Mbps transfer rates.
Lastly, you can easily update your smartphone to get a better sound quality with your Bluetooth 5.1 headphones or other Bluetooth updated devices.
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If you have Bluetooth 4.2 earphones, it might be best to upgrade and buy Bluetooth 5.1 earphones to enjoy the improved features of Bluetooth 5.1 technology.
Since only smartphones, tablets, laptops, and computers are the only common devices which you can update, it can be hard to update headphones, earphones, and other accessories that rely on Bluetooth 4.2
Audio, video, and finding location are all improved in the newer version of Bluetooth. However, for other accessories such as mice and keyboards, you will not notice a big difference aside from power efficiency.
Therefore if you have the option to buy a product with Bluetooth 5.0 or 5.1 over the older version of 4.2 it’s a much better way to go.
In particular if you’re looking at Bluetooth earbuds this will reduce any latency issues which were common with Bluetooth 4.2.