Bluetooth 5.0 vs. 4.0 - A Detailed Comparative Analysis

Sure, Bluetooth is a powerful wireless technology. But with so many versions out there, it is not always possible to stay up to date with the option that is most suitable for you. The biggest tussle is, perhaps, between Bluetooth 5.0 and 4.0. In this article, we will discuss the features that the two versions bring two the table and an honest comparative analysis. Let us begin!

Published 3 Nov 2021Updated 29 Sep 2023

Table of Contents

  • Bluetooth version 5.0 specifications at a glance
    • Bluetooth - how it all began
      • Bluetooth: a number game
        • Bluetooth creates a buzz in the market
          • 1. Find your airport terminal
            • 2. Skip the long queues
              • 3. Enjoy guided museum tours
              • Bluetooth 5.0 vs. 4.0 - A detailed comparative analysis
                • 1. Speed
                  • 2. Range
                    • 3. Battery bandwidth
                      • 4. Compatibility
                        • 5. Hardware support
                          • 6. Message capacity
                            • 7. Bluetooth beacon
                            • Should you really get Bluetooth 5?
                              • Wrapping it up

                                There is no denying that Bluetooth is the most popular wireless technology used in all electronic devices today. Each year, consumers are delighted with more modern Bluetooth versions - whether it is for smartphones or the Internet of Things.

                                From audio streaming (in-car speakers) and location services (asset tracking) to data transfer (fitness trackers and wellness monitors) and device networks (monitoring systems) - Bluetooth has created an important role for itself in our day-to-day lives.

                                But such was not the case before. It was only in 2014 that Bluetooth 4.0 got an upgrade and was launched in the market with a new feature, Bluetooth Low Energy [BLE], to meet the increasing demand for wireless connectivity between small devices.

                                This version was geared towards apps that required lower power consumption, such as fitness wearables that transmit temperature data in small amounts to mobile phones on request. Other features of the version included low energy secure connection and link-layer privacy.

                                Bluetooth version 5.0 specifications at a glance

                                After the subsequent success of version 4.0, the market introduced Bluetooth version 5.2 on December 31, 2019. Although geared towards low-powered apps, it offers an improved BLE data rate and range - allowing devices to send even more sophisticated data to the end-users.

                                Unlike Bluetooth 4.0, it provides four different data rates to accommodate various transmission ranges: 2Mbps, 1Mbps, 500kps, and 125kps. That results in better call quality and significantly superior performance and functionality.

                                That makes it a clear successor to Bluetooth 4.0 thanks to its pro-Internet of Things upgrades and Bluetooth beacon . This article attempts to analyze Bluetooth 5.0 vs. 4.0, along with their variations in detail. But first, let us take a step back to study its history.

                                Bluetooth version 5.0 launch summary and specification

                                Bluetooth - how it all began

                                Bluetooth was invented by an electrical engineer Jaap Haartsen in 1994, while working for Ericsson in Sweden, as an alternative to the RS-232 cable standard for connecting PCs to computer peripherals.

                                Four years later, Haartsen played a crucial role in setting up the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), comprising 35,000+ member companies in various sectors such as computing, telecommunications, and consumer electronics.

                                Today, the body controls technology development, protects trademarks, and runs a management qualification program to ensure all manufacturers comply with their standards to sell a Bluetooth device.

                                So far, Bluetooth has released 12 versions, most of which are stemming from the same series:

                                list of bluetooth versions launched

                                Bluetooth: a number game

                                An ABI Research states that Bluetooth beacons are expected to reach a 133% CAGR between 2016 and 2021 in retail, advertising, and personal tracking sectors. In 2020, the volume of BLE-enabled devices shipped worldwide is expected to reach 8.45 billion.

                                Moreover, BLE shipment is set to triple by 2023, with 1.6 billion devices shipping each year. Speaking of demographics, North America has the highest rate of Bluetooth usage at approximately 40% across devices thanks to increased use of hands-free headsets, connected watches, and other Internet of Things Development.

                                The technology has undoubtedly evolved from connecting PC ancillary systems into a domestic IoT connectivity solution. Let us study some compelling use cases of Bluetooth.

                                Bluetooth creates a buzz in the market

                                1. Find your airport terminal

                                Miami International Airport installed Bluetooth beacons to each terminal and critical areas such as restrooms and food courts. That way, travelers can download the airport app and be guided straight to their terminal from the security check-in area.

                                2. Skip the long queues

                                Since 2013, Apple Stores in the USA have been using beacons to communicate with users once they enter the facility and check-in for the Apple Store app's service. They are sent notifications on their Apple devices regarding discounts, sales, hot favorites, and more.

                                3. Enjoy guided museum tours

                                The Brooklyn Museum of Art provides guided tours through their official app. Location-based triggers serve content as visitors walk through the museum. It is an impressive way for the museum to communicate with visitors and allows the latter to interact with the exhibits of their liking.

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                                Bluetooth 5.0 vs. 4.0 - A detailed comparative analysis

                                Bluetooth 5.0 was rolled out in 2016 and designed to meet all the wireless world's advanced privacy and security standards. It requires the latest hardware to run smoothly and is not compatible with its older versions, like Bluetooth 4.0. So, how do the two versions fare against each other? Time to analyze Bluetooth 5.0 vs. 4.0:

                                1. Speed

                                One of the most impressive Bluetooth version 5.0 specifications includes speed. It is twice as fast as Bluetooth 4.0. Clocking in at a decent 2Mbps, it can meet all the Internet of Things compatibility requirements.

                                A packet of data worth 251 bytes can actually be sent in 1060 microseconds compared to the previous version that recorded a set time frame of 2120 microseconds.


                                This shows that even though the data is sent faster, the packets' distance has not been shortened or wedged. In a nutshell, Bluetooth 5.0 is certainly 1.7X faster than BLE 4.2.

                                2. Range

                                The range is one aspect that consumers would not notice audio either start cutting out or completely stops because the device is out of range. This was an issue with Bluetooth 4.0; however, the advanced technology states otherwise.

                                While Bluetooth 4.0 supports 10m in an indoor range and 50m outdoors, its successor supports 200m in the outside environment and 40m indoors. That shows that Bluetooth version 5.0 specifications are far superior to any versions of Bluetooth 4.0.

                                Bluetooth 5 allows low-energy transmission providing data range for more range.


                                The advanced range means you can listen to music through your wireless headsets from your smartphone while moving around the house or garden without disrupted streaming.

                                3. Battery bandwidth

                                As you know, Bluetooth version 5.0 specifications were refined for the Internet of Things. That means the new version of Bluetooth was designed to use less power on each device than version 4.0. For instance, all audio devices communicate over BLE, and you can switch on your Bluetooth for a more extended period without worrying about the battery running out.

                                How else do you think your headsets or smartwatches can sustain and go on for such long hours? Sure, the hardware has a huge role to play in power consumption. But the maximum transmits the power in Bluetooth 5.0 stands at +20 dBm while the older version was defined at +10 dBm.

                                4. Compatibility

                                Compatibility is a huge factor in technology, mainly if you deal with mobile phones or the Internet of Things. You would want to move forward with new trends and continually upgrade your various tech devices. However, that is not always possible.

                                You cannot just throw your smartwatch in the bin or purchase a new mobile phone only to stay in vogue! That is the issue Bluetooth version 5.0 specifications address once and for all!


                                Bluetooth 4.0 is only compatible with devices that were designed specifically for the version 4 series. However, it will not work with devices that have Bluetooth 5. Although that is not a problem with version 5 and is backward-compatible with all version 4 series, it will not utilize all Bluetooth version 5.0 specifications on the device.

                                5. Hardware support

                                Bluetooth 5 met the requirements for the Internet of Things thanks to its extraordinary range and increased speed. Its predecessor, on the other hand, gets a boot because of its speed and faulty range. Samsung Galaxy 8 and 8+ work well with Bluetooth 5.0.

                                However, to take full advantage of Bluetooth 5.0, you will need the new and improved gear. For instance, you might need a Bluetooth adapter to make a device work properly. By plugging into a USB port, you can upgrade your device with the latest version.

                                This is not the case with Bluetooth 4.0 - which won't be compatible with any version series except for its own.

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                                6. Message capacity

                                Bluetooth version 5.0 specifications include a large messaging capacity of 255 bytes, giving more bytes for actual data payload. However, Bluetooth 4.0 has a small message capacity of 31 bytes that only give 17-20 bytes for actual data payload.

                                7. Bluetooth beacon

                                When we were at the use cases section, we learned about the Miami International airport installed beacons for a better traveling experience? Well, the reason Bluetooth 5.0 beacons are so popular is because of their range and speed. However, the same cannot be said about Bluetooth 4.0, which had lesser speed and range.

                                Bluetooth 5.0 offers a connectionless Internet of Things, which makes its beacons so apt! It optimizes responsiveness and ensures faster and smoother connectivity.

                                Difference between Bluetooth 5 VS 4

                                Should you really get Bluetooth 5?

                                When considering the benefits of Bluetooth 5.0 over Bluetooth 4.2, the features that stand out are the faster speed and the greater range. You can get up to twice the speed (2Mbps versus 1 Mbps), four times the range (800 feet versus 200 feet), and eight times the bandwidth of your old Bluetooth. We have discussed all of this before.

                                It is important to remember, though, that you cannot have all of it at the same time — the devices need to choose between speed or range for any given transfer of information.

                                For instance, a Bluetooth tracker tag might opt for greater range, while headphones designed mainly for music playback might prefer greater speed.

                                Of course, these are ‘line of sight’ maximums, so anything that comes in the way of the two objects will naturally interfere with the signal.

                                Nonetheless, these are commendable improvements, and they also apply to BLE, so your IoT devices can benefit from better speed and range while still being power-efficient.

                                Another major advantage of Bluetooth 5.0 is that it simultaneously enables two devices to pair with a third device. Imagine this scenario: there are two people with their wireless headphones listening to the same music from the same smartphone or controlling the speakers in your bathroom as well as your kitchen with just one phone.

                                That being said, we recommend that you go for Bluetooth 5.0 only if you know that all the paired devices will be using it. For instance, your phone might support Bluetooth 5.0, but your car or your smart home device might not.

                                In fact, this is quite likely, as automobile manufacturers are not always super-prompt about updating their cars’ Bluetooth, and the same applies to home device makers. So, please do your research before you think of upgrading to that.

                                Luckily, Bluetooth 5.0 is backward-compatible with Bluetooth 4.2, so your two devices can still connect and share information the usual way, even if you cannot leverage the extra speed and range. Plus, if you are genuinely keen on making Bluetooth 5.0 a part of your life, consider verifying that any new item you buy is compatible with it.

                                Wrapping it up

                                As the Internet of Things, Android app development, and iOS app development expand, Bluetooth's usage will continue to soar for days to come. One cannot imagine life without Bluetooth, is it not?

                                When Apple first introduced the headphone Jack many years ago, they embraced Bluetooth technology as the new audio connectivity standard. Since then the technology has evolved by leaps and bounds, and the article proves how!

                                Given what we have learned in our comparative analysis of Bluetooth 5.0 vs. 4.0, there is no doubt that Bluetooth 5 version series are much better than the previous versions.

                                If you need any assistance concerning Bluetooth-compatible Android app development and iOS app development, please do not hesitate to contact us.

                                Give your enterprise the tech support it deserves.


                                Will Bluetooth 5.0 work with 4.0?

                                Yes, Bluetooth 5.0 is compatible with 4.0 and its subsequent versions, i.e., 4.1 and 4.2. However, the only drawback is Bluetooth 5.0 does not utilize all specifications on the device in such a case. The speed and range improvements are limited when Bluetooth 5.0 works with 4.0.

                                What Bluetooth version do I have?

                                The easiest way to confirm the Bluetooth version supported by your device is by checking its exact model number and then using that bit of information on the device’s manufacturer website to find out about the Bluetooth version.

                                How many devices can Bluetooth 4.0 support?

                                Bluetooth 4.0 is compatible with only those devices that were designed specifically for the version 4 series. Having said that, it can communicate with up to seven devices, though not all devices would enjoy the same range and speed.

                                How to check the Bluetooth version on Android?

                                It is easy. Simply turn on the Bluetooth mode on your device, go to “phone settings,” and select the “ALL” tab. Then scroll down the feed and click on an icon called “Bluetooth Share.” Voila! You will find the version information under “App Info.”

                                What is the maximum range of most Bluetooth 5 devices?

                                Bluetooth 5 supports a range of 200m in the outside environment and 40m indoors. It offers four different data rates to include various transmission ranges: 2Mbps, 1Mbps, 500kps, and 125kps. The range ensures better call quality and significantly superior performance and functionality than the older versions of the Bluetooth.

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