Bluetooth has been part of the mobile landscape for almost 20 years. That’s older than Clove’s newest staff member! Constantly updated, it can’t be denied that Bluetooth remains a very important protocol. Announced last year, Bluetooth 5 is set to make an appearance in devices over the next few months.
As with every release, Bluetooth 5 will be backwards compatible. So if you pick up a new phone with it installed, you should still be able to connect to all of your existing equipment. For full details, check the official FAQ at the end of this article.
Bluetooth 4 went against the grain of previous releases. Rather than simply improve speeds, it focused on low power features and extending the protocol for new applications. There were also improvements to fit in with modern Internet of Things (IoT) equipment in BT 4.2.
Bluetooth 5 builds on 4.2’s IoT work, but also brings some speed and connectivity upgrades too.
Overall, the new version will have twice the maximum speed and four times the maximum range. The broadcasting message capacity has also increased eight-fold. This will allow for far more data to be transferred in a single stream.
The new extensions in the system allow for more efficient use of channels on the 2.4GHz band. This is the band used for many consumer wireless communications (including Wi-Fi, and new Zigbee connected-home equipment). This band is increasingly crowded in urban areas, especially as more products enter our homes and businesses.
Larger message capacity and range is highly suited to the disparate networks of items used in IoT devices and connected-home equipment. By increasing base speed and message size, it should be much faster for Bluetooth 5 devices to transmit information.
With several IoT products in your home, they may all be continuously reporting their status. Perhaps with each other or a central hub. Bluetooth 5 could well improve those connections for a more efficient and reliable network.
To make the most of these features, only the newest hardware can benefit completely from Bluetooth 5. As mentioned before, this will still remain compatible with earlier equipment. To take advantage of the higher speeds and range though, both parties in the connection must be on version 5.
Flagship phone manufacturers are usually quick to embrace Bluetooth. To that end we expect to see version 5 installed on the newest devices this year, including the LG G6 and Samsung Galaxy S8 range.
We also expect some of the big names in accessories to embrace the technology. High end headphones and PC gaming equipment will likely get on board. There will also be a big range of connected home items. Expect to see Bluetooth 5 in everything from fancy kettles and toasters to existing smart-home equipment such as lighting and thermostats.
Bluetooth 5 FAQ
Most technical questions will be covered in the official FAQ below.
This includes details on backwards compatibility and how to get new products qualified.