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Versions of Bluetooth and how they’ve evolved

Versions of Bluetooth and how they’ve evolved

Bluetooth was first established in 1999. Since then, Bluetooth has seen a ton of revisions with it’s technology over the years. Originally, its original purpose was to replace wired serial communication. Over each iteration of Bluetooth this technology has evolved its methods of transmission. Today, we’ll go over how Bluetooth has changed over the last two decades.


Bluetooth v1.0 – v3.0: Known as Bluetooth classic

When we’re talking about Bluetooth iterations, you can identify them by their version number and can be distinguished with three factors: Range, data speed, and power consumption. These are determined by the modulation shame and data packet being used. When the first version of Bluetooth was released, it was purely data transmission. However, had paved the way for what we use today, wireless headphones, speakers, controllers, etc. However, Bluetooth 1.0 had a speed cap of 1Mbps and can only reach as far as 10 meters.

The first version of Bluetooth used a modulation scheme was called Gaussian Frequency Shift Keying (GFSK for short). With GFSK, the modulated carrier shifts between two frequencies representing 1s and 0s.

When Bluetooth 2.0 came out, GFSK was taken out in favor of two newer schemes: p/4-DQPSK and 8DPSK, which used changes in the waveforms’ phase to carry information, as opposed to frequency modulation. These two resulted in never-before-seen data speeds of 2 Mbps and 3 Mbps, respectively. Bluetooth 3.0 further improved data speeds with the addition of 802.11 (similar to what they use in Wifi these days) for up to 24 Mbps of data transfer, although this was not a mandatory part of the 3.0 specification.

These results were basically game-changing as short-range wireless solutions could now provide reliable and high-speed connections. This opened up the possibilities of major tech advancements in wireless devices.

However, one thing was still stopping this from the early version of Bluetooth and that was power consumption. Bluetooth V1.0 – V3.0 (Bluetooth Classic) required large amounts of energy, so smaller devices would have a much shorter battery life so it was impractical for the devices we have today.


Versions 4.0 – 5.0: Bluetooth Low Energy

So, in order to meet the increasing demand for wireless connectivity in smaller devices, they had introduced Bluetooth 4.0 which is also known as Bluetooth Low Energy or BLE for short. This was geared towards devices that require low power consumption. However, BLE returned to the GFSK modulation scheme which in turn, means it only transferred 1Mbps, which isn’t suitable for something that requires a constant stream of data, like wireless headphones for example. However, this was suitable for things that only need it periodically, such as wearables, FitBits, Smartwatches, etc. Since wearables will only need data when requested, it was perfect for this application.

However, the most recent version of Bluetooth, Bluetooth 5+ is even more of an improvement from the previous BLE standard. It’s still geared towards low-powered applications but it improves of the data range and range of Bluetooth 4.0. Bluetooth 5 allows for a variety of transmissions such as 2Mbps, 1Mbps, 500kbps, 125kbps. An increase in transmission range requires a reduction in data rate, the lower data rate of 125kbps was added to support applications that benefit more from improved range. For example, smaller sensors don’t require sending huge amounts of data, so the data rate can be reduced to increase the range (to up to 240 meters) and the opposite is also true. So for devices that require a high transmission rate, they can opt for a shorter range while still maintaining fast data transmitting. The flexibility of this allows low-powered products to send even more sophisticated data to the end-user.


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