Bluetooth 5.0 vs Bluetooth 4.2: What Changed?

By: Olena Domanska, 21 Nov 2023
6   min read
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Bluetooth is a game-changing technology for wireless communication. However, lagging technology has no place in a fast-evolving world, which is the reason for even more powerful versions of Bluetooth appearing.
Bluetooth 5, the most recent version, has improvements such as expanded operational range, doubled data transmission rate, reduced battery usage, and other equally essential features.

We’ll explain here not just the benefits of using it, but also the primary distinctions between Bluetooth 4.2 and Bluetooth 5.0, and provide thorough information about Bluetooth Low Energy technology, key differences between Bluetooth 5.0 and 4.2, the most famous Bluetooth Low Energy chipsets, Bluetooth LE SoC vendors, and we´ll also discuss which trends await us in 2023.

Introduction

We decided to gather all of the essential information about this innovative technology. Numerous changes have occurred since the first version of Bluetooth was released in 1999, but the technology fundamentally has not.
But we’re here to compare the characteristics of Bluetooth 5.0 versus those of Bluetooth 4.2. Let’s take a look at each of the versions mentioned above before making a direct comparison.

What is Bluetooth 4.2? 

Version 4.2 increases the data transmission speed over Bluetooth 4.1 and provides a more secure Bluetooth connection because devices can no longer be monitored without user authorization. The ability to connect directly to the Internet without the antenna connection that previously enabled this functionality is the most significant change in this Bluetooth version. This technology enables devices from the IoT to connect directly to the network without first connecting to an “intermediary.”

What is Bluetooth 5.0?

Bluetooth 5.0 is the fifth generation of this wireless communication system, as the name suggests. Each new version also includes new characteristics that differentiate it from the previous ones. In addition to what earlier versions could perform, various additional features have been introduced. We can, for example, send sound to two speakers at the same time. As a result, we can build our home audio system.
So, with so many possibilities, let’s take a closer look at the key distinctions between Bluetooth 4.2 and Bluetooth 5.0.
Bluetooth 5.0 allows faster file transfer, thus avoiding the need for a cable to send data to your computer.

Key differences between Bluetooth 5.0 and 4.2

1. RANGE
The signal range is four times greater. You can also employ drones at a certain distance because you don’t have to have them directly next to you. 

2. SPEED
Specifically, Bluetooth 5.0 can achieve up to 2 Mbps (megabits per second) whereas Bluetooth 4.2 can only achieve up to 1 Mbps. For example, if you are streaming music from your phone to a Bluetooth speaker, with Bluetooth 5.0, you may experience less buffering and smoother playback compared to using Bluetooth 4.2.

3. POWER REQUIREMENT
Protocol 5.0 improves data transfer efficiency and consumes less power, both of which are significant for device use. For example, basic Bluetooth devices that used to last approximately 10 hours, now last more than a day.

4. MESSAGE CAPACITY
Improved technology provides a higher message capacity of around 255 bytes, allowing for more bytes to be used for real data delivery.

5. BLUETOOTH BEACON
Bluetooth 5 connects small wireless devices called beacons that send radio signals.
For geolocation, beacons have various advantages over GPS technology. For starters, Bluetooth consumes far less power than GPS mode. Second, because the technology does not rely on data networks (mobile phones do not have GPS location information), it may be used to discover events and locations of interest while traveling abroad without incurring roaming fees.

6. SUPPORT FOR IOT DEVICES
By improving such aspects as distance, speed and adding beacons, it is possible to make IoT connectivity more reliable.

Short Overlook of Bluetooth Low Energy Technology

With the growth of the Internet of Things, numerous gadgets may now connect and be controlled from users’ smartphones and tablets using small-radio networks.
Bluetooth is the most widely used mode, and it has grown in popularity as the number of small, intelligent devices that require a low-power wireless connection has increased.

The Difference Between BLE and Traditional Bluetooth

The crucial difference of the new Bluetooth technology is that it requires significantly less energy. Bluetooth Low Energy was created to reduce costs and energy usage while demonstrating the transmission performance of BLE, a Bluetooth technology that operates in the 2.4 GHz band.
What’s more, unlike traditional Bluetooth, it’s generally in sleep mode, except in those circumstances when a connection is established
Due to the lower power consumption, applications can run for 3-5 years on a small battery, which is important for small but important devices like medical equipment (e.g., temperature sensors, pulse sensors, pressure gauges), industrial sensors, lighting devices, and thermostats.
As a result, Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy are used in different situations. When large amounts of data are not required and it is necessary to run for years without changing batteries, Bluetooth Low Energy wins.
There are hundreds of BLE chip-on-chip (SoC) systems on the market, the majority of which are manufactured by a small number of companies.
We have, however, chosen seven of the most well-known Bluetooth Low Energy chipsets.

Most Widely Used Bluetooth Low Energy Chipsets

In the world of IoT, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is a popular wireless communication technology that is widely used for its low power consumption and cost-effectiveness.
An SoC is a small chip that serves as the foundation for a whole system of electrical devices or computers. It is, as the name implies, a full system that runs on a single chip. A central processing unit (CPU), I/O ports, internal memory, and analog I/O devices are commonly essential components for an SoC.
Various tasks like signal processing, wireless communication, and artificial intelligence can be implemented depending on the type of system reduced to chip size.

Here are 7 of the most well-known Bluetooth Low Energy chipsets:

1. Nordic Semiconductor

2. Silicon Labs

3. Texas Instruments

4. STMicroelectronics

5. Infineon Semiconductor

6. NXP Semiconductors

7. Qualcomm

What Trends Await Us in 2023?

Bluetooth Low Power (LE) technology now provides new opportunities for use in IoT, pushing Bluetooth technology forward. We have compiled a list of the technological trends that will be widespread in 2023.

1. Digital Keys
Nowadays, almost everyone owns a smartphone, and its function in our lives is continually expanding. Already, Bluetooth technology allows phones to be used as simple and safe digital keys, unlocking doors and rooms when approaching a car or house.

2. Personal Item Tracking
Bluetooth’s availability facilitated the introduction of personal item-tracking systems. So soon we will be able to find lost things easily!

3. Audio Streaming
BLE technology enables us to improve our lives in ever-increasing ways. For example, the audio streaming capability allows numerous people to listen to sounds simultaneously. This breakthrough will help people who need hearing aids.

4. Indoor Navigation
Indoor navigation is now undergoing substantial advancement. In the near future, this will significantly improve navigation in large spaces and allow the use of maps not just in the outdoor area.

Summary

As you’ve seen, Bluetooth 5.0 offers a number of advantages over its predecessors. Soon enough, various innovative approaches will be developed to simplify and improve every aspect of our lives. However, with innovation comes challenges. Implementing new technology often presents obstacles such as compatibility issues, integration complexities, and the need for specialized expertise.
Working with an expert company like Sirin Software guarantees that you’ll be at the forefront of these developments and benefit from improved productivity and modern technology. With our revolutionary ideas and solid knowledge, our team established itself as a reliable partner in the rapid world of technology. 

Our partnership with Lopos demonstrates our ability to integrate Bluetooth technology in creating a BLE-connected mobile application for their Ultra-Wide Band solution. Equally notable is our venture with Retail Optimize, where we harnessed OpenWRT OS, Wi-Fi probe requests sniffing, and Bluetooth BLE BEACONS to create a real-time location tracking system for insightful marketing analysis. Furthermore, our engagement with a prominent consumer goods retailer led to the creation of a Bluetooth Barcode Scanner-integrated system, optimizing warehouse operations with precise supply balance monitoring. With Sirin Software, you’re not just choosing a service provider – you’re partnering with an expert in technological innovation.

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