The differences between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi

Wireless technology is one of the most used technologies in the world right now. Even technophobes can’t avoid this simple technology. Of all things tech that’s wireless, the most common are the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

These two accessories are supported on millions of phones, tablets, smart watches, speakers, laptops and what have you. They help to provide communications between the devices they are supported in. They’ve got similarities, so also do they have differences too. In this article, we’ll be looking at what differentiates the two popular wireless techs named Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

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What is Bluetooth?

Simply put, Bluetooth is an exchange protocol used for communication of data between two devices in close range. Depending on the version, Bluetooth has a range of 5 metres to 30 metres. It is supported on smartphones, computers, smart watches, smart TVs, etc.

Bluetooth was formed in 1994 by the tech giant, Ericsson. It was named after a 10th Century Danish King and Viking, Harald Bluetooth who united Denmark from numerous tribes.

What is Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi is a wireless technology standard that allows the connection of two devices without the utilization of cables. Pronounced as “Why-Fy”, it is also referred to as Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN).

The idea that Wi-Fi is short for Wireless Fidelity is actually a misconception. Wi-Fi just represents the wireless data transmission IEEE 802.11x standards. It is supported on laptops, desktops, notebooks, mobiles, servers and smart TVs.

Bluetooth vs. Wi-Fi

Well, we’ve done a brush up of what they both are: the fact that they are wireless technology meant for communicating data between two devices and having a similar range of compatible hardware. Now, it’s time to look closely at the contrasting features between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

  • Year of formation & Governing body

Bluetooth, launched in 1994, is overseen by the body known as Bluetooth Special Interest Group (Bluetooth SIG) while Wi-Fi is governed by the organisation Wi-Fi Alliance. Wi-Fi was officially released in the year 1997.

  • Versions

Bluetooth boasts of several versions which are Bluetooth v2.0, Bluetooth v2.1, Bluetooth 3.0, Bluetooth v4.0, Bluetooth v4.2 and the latest Bluetooth 5. There are different protocols that have added to the versions such as Low Energy profile, aptXHD, A2DP, etc.

WLAN is set by IEEE 802.11 standards, so the versions include 802.11a, 802.11b/g, 802.11ac, 802.11n, etc. The different frequencies also determine the version, for example, 802.11 n 2.4GHz has a 2.4GHz frequency.

  • Frequency

The frequency of Bluetooth has only one frequency which is 2.4GHz while those of WLAN includes 2.4GHz, 3.6GHz and 5GHz.

  • Bandwidth

Wi-Fi has a larger bandwidth than Bluetooth. Its bandwidth is sometimes as high as 11 – 25Mbps while that of Bluetooth is just about 800Kbps. Bluetooth doesn’t need much bandwidth because the files that are usually transmitted are the low type.

  • Range

Bluetooth has a range of 10 metres to 33 metres. Wi-Fi, on the other hand, works within the range of 32 metres – 100 metres.

  • Power consumption

Bluetooth consumes low power compared to the Wi-Fi technology. This is because Wi-Fi is more complex & makes use of more quality exchange protocols during its operation.

  • Complexity of connections & security

Wi-Fi’s connection is complex than that of Bluetooth. Wi-Fi makes use of configuration and security code matching process while Bluetooth mainly utilizes a simple key matching process.

As a result of Bluetooth’s simple connection gradient, it is less secure compared to its counterpart. Wi-Fi has more security protocols such as Wireless Equivalent Privacy (WEP) and Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), adding to its connection complexity.

Now, you have the adequate know-how on the contrasts between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Despite the differences between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, both play their individual roles in our daily technological lives.