Bluetooth technology continues to advance, and it’s just getting better.
Another version of Bluetooth has recently been released, and with it comes better technology that will benefit anyone who uses Bluetooth.
Bluetooth 5.3 is the latest version of Bluetooth currently available. It can be found in a wide range of products, such as the iPhone 14 range of smartphones and AirPods Pro (second generation).
Bluetooth Versions: An Updated List
Here’s a list of every Bluetooth version that’s been released to date, with an easy-to-understand explanation of what’s changed. Updates come with improvements, and that’s why the most recent version is the best so far.
Latest: Bluetooth 5.3 (2021)
Bluetooth 5.3 has a Periodic Advertising Enhancement, which basically allows the receiving device to not have to process data twice.
Encryption key size control enhancements have improved signal efficiency, making the process more streamlined. Connection subtracting creates a better user experience when transitioning from a low duty cycle to a high duty cycle.
An enhancement to the channel classification feature now means Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) devices can process the channel classification and adjust the channel map, which is used for frequency hopping. This improves performance for LE Bluetooth devices.
With the removal of alternate media access control (MAC) and physical layer extension (PHY), users of these features will have to stick with earlier Bluetooth versions. These were removed due to the overall lack of use of this feature.
If you would like a more technical, in-depth explanation of Bluetooth 5.3 then this information is available via the Bluetooth website.
Here’s what you need to know about Bluetooth 5.3 without getting technical:
- Better energy efficiency
- Improved reliability
- Enhanced user experience
If you’re in the market for a new Bluetooth product, it’s a good idea to look for one with the latest Bluetooth version installed, based on these three points.
LE audio transfer rates are 2 Mb per second and the standard data transfer speed is 3Mb per second.
Bluetooth 5.2 (2020)
Bluetooth 5.2 was first introduced during CES 2020 in January. The biggest upgrade for Bluetooth 5.2 from 5.1 was the integration of Isochronous Channels to improve LE Audio implementation across this wireless signal.
Data transfer speeds were still 3 Mb per second with this version of Bluetooth, and it looks like that will remain the standard moving forward.
Bluetooth 5.1 (2019)
This was another iterative upgrade of Bluetooth, adding mesh network capabilities to the Bluetooth 5.0 structure. Data transfer speeds remained at 3 Mb per second.
Bluetooth 5.0 (2016)
Bluetooth 5.0 brought some significant power saving solutions to the protocol, as well as an increased overall outdoor transmission range from just 50 m to 200 m. Data continues to be transferred at 3 Mb per second.
Bluetooth 4.2 (2014)
Designed specifically to make the “Internet of Things” possible, this iteration of Bluetooth dramatically increased the payload size of individual Bluetooth packets, multiplying it by 10. This version also introduced support for WPAN and 6LoWPAN connections.
Bluetooth 4.1 (2013)
This Bluetooth upgrade made for much more efficient data exchanges, as well as improved relationships with devices leveraging LTE frequencies. New Bluetooth 4.1 devices could communicate with one another, connecting at both the client and the hub simultaneously.
Data transfer rates were still limited to 3 Mb per second, though.
Bluetooth 4.0 (2010)
Bluetooth 4.0 introduced a brand-new low-power Bluetooth set up, branded as “Bluetooth Smart.” Data transfer speeds were rolled back to 3 Mb per second.
Bluetooth 3 + HS (2009)
This version of Bluetooth got the “High Speed” designation. This protocol initiated connections via Bluetooth, but then transmitted data over the faster Wi-Fi frequency.
Data transfer speeds of up to 24 Mb per second were now possible.
Bluetooth 2.1 (2007)
This version of Bluetooth introduced Secure Simple Pairing, providing a lightning-fast, streamlined and more secure pairing system. Encryption was fully integrated and made mandatory with the even lower power consumption levels.
Data transfer rates stayed pegged at 3 Mb per second.
Bluetooth 2.0 (2004)
Sometimes called Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR, this version of Bluetooth leveraged 3-bit encoding instead of one bit encoding. That skyrocketed the data transfer rate from under 1 Mb per second to 3 Mb per second. Bluetooth 2.0 consumed less power, too.
Bluetooth 1.2 (2003)
It wasn’t until 2003 that Bluetooth became the “gold standard” for wireless data transfer.
New advancements, including Basic Data Rate and Adaptive Frequency Hopping technology, made this version of Bluetooth much more useful. Pairing was faster and there was less interference with Wi-Fi signals.
Data transfer for Bluetooth 1.2 was still stuck at 0.7 Mb per second, though.
Bluetooth 1.1 (2001)
Major improvements to reliability and interoperability were made in this version of Bluetooth. Backwards compatibility improved, too.
Bluetooth 1.1 had data transfer rates of 0.7 Mb per second as well.
Bluetooth 1.0 and 1.0B (1999)
This was the first version of Bluetooth released, back in 1999. There were some initial deployment issues that caused Bluetooth to stumble out of the gate, but those were remedied relatively quickly.
Bluetooth 1.0 was capable of data transfer rates of 0.7 Mb per second.
Bluetooth Version Data Transfer Rates
All 14 versions
Transfer rate (Mbps)
1.0 & 1.0B
Transfer rate (Mbps)
Bluetooth Core Information
Here’s a little more information about different aspects of Bluetooth and what they do. These are all important to the overall operation of the Bluetooth protocol.
Core Specification Version
Each version of Bluetooth has core specifications that include everything necessary for its operation. Each version is different, and the newest current core specification is Bluetooth 5.3.
Enhanced Attribute Protocol
An upgraded version of the Attribute protocol (ATT) is now called Enhanced Attribute protocol (EATT). Without getting too technical, these changes improve user experience when several applications are using the Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) stack at the same time.
Latency can also be improved end-to-end in the applications, giving the user a better experience too.
Knowing your Bluetooth device’s class will tell you its operating distance. Class 1 has the biggest distance of up to 300 feet. Class 2 has a distance of up to 33 feet, while Class 3 is just up to 3 feet.
If you have two Bluetooth devices of different classes, they will default to the lower class.
As an example, with two devices, where one is Class 1 and one is Class 3, they would default to class 3, giving you a maximum range of just 3 feet. This is only a guide, and there are many other aspects that determine Bluetooth range.
Class 1: Up to 100mW 300 feet (100 m)
Class 2: Up to 2.5mW 33 feet (10 m)
Class 3: Up to 1mW 3 feet (1 m)
Bluetooth Low-Energy LE Audio
The idea behind this new technology introduced with Bluetooth 5.2 is to improve audio sound while reducing energy consumption.
This technology operates on a new radio frequency called Bluetooth Low-Energy radio, rather than the original classic radio. Whether this technology results in better sound, only time will tell, as it starts to be used in more devices.
Another part of this technology, bringing something new to Bluetooth, is Auracast Broadcast Audio.
Auracast makes it possible for you to share your audio with others, as well as allowing multiple connections to public devices such as a TV in a park or mall.
If you’ve seen futuristic movies where there are multiple screens in multiple places, all talking to you at once, that’s the kind of thing this technology is designed to enable. We’re seeing so many new opportunities as Bluetooth further advances.
With Bluetooth 5.3, you’ll have a more advanced and stable Bluetooth connection than ever before.
It’s still backward compatible, so you’ll be able to use your older devices with that new iPhone or other Bluetooth device that’s using this latest version.
There are even more advances now with the introduction of LE Audio and Auracast Broadcast Audio.