A Brief History of Bluetooth and Its Many Versions

Do you remember the day of the SONY Walkman? If that brought you a hint of nostalgia, think about how far technology has come with music portability. Walkmans became CD players. CD players got replaced by ipods. Now your phone is your current portable music player. As the music player transformed, so did our consumption of it via headphones. Bluetooth has changed the concept of headphones and earbuds. Gone are the days of having your wires crossed (literally!). To keep the vibes going, it’s important to stay up to date on the latest Bluetooth version. Not sure what the differences are? I got you. 

What is Bluetooth? Bluetooth is the exchange of data between devices within a short distance. The name originates from Scandinavia. Legend says that a viking king named Harland Blatand united the country. Blatand translates to Bluetooth.Bluetooth is used to connect a variety of gadgets such as:

  • Computers, laptops, tablets, and notebooks
  • Mobile devices
  • Speakers and headsets
  • Smart homes, watches, and trackers 
  • Hands-free technology (like cars)
  • Video game consoles
  • Medical equipment. 

WIFI is similar to Bluetooth but there are key differences. WIFI connects devices to the internet and has a strong transfer rate, whereas Bluetooth is used for short range data transfer between devices. Bluetooth is slower than WIFI and not as stable. 

As technology evolved throughout the years, Bluetooth improved. Each version improved the data transfer speed, connection range, stability, security, and energy efficacy.  We are currently on 5.2. Below are the five main versions of Bluetooth:

Bluetooth 1.0 (1999)

The technology was first introduced in 1999 with the release of the SONY Ericcson r520m. The data transfer speed was low at 732.2 kbit/s-2.1 Mbit/s and had a max range of 10 meters. Music playback was not featured at the time. There was only the ability to talk to one another.

2.0 (2005)

The year 2005 brought a new upgrade for Bluetooth 1.0: version 2.0. Enhanced Data Rate (EDR) was introduced; a mode that allowed the data transfer rate to increase from 2.1 Mbit/s-24 Mbit/s. The maximum range was capped at 30 meters.

3.0 (2009)

2009 brings another jump: version 3.0. This version brought us High Speed, which makes the transmission application extend to larger media files like audio and photos. Transfer speed stayed at 24 Mbit/s and the range remained at 30 meters. 3.0 was discontinued due to its biggest drawback: high power consumption. 

4.0 (2010)

The following year, Bluetooth 4.0 changed the narrative. Every other version after this one became known as smart Bluetooth also known as Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). BLE reduced the power consumption on compatible devices, extending the battery life. Transfer rate slightly increased from 24 Mbit/s- 25 Mbit/s. The max range increased to 60 meters.

5.0 (2016)

2016 gave us the year of version 5.0. The data transfer extended to 50 Mbit/s and carried a range of up to 240 meters. To make things more exciting, 5.0 was able to have dual audio connection; the ability to connect two devices at once.



Data Transfer Speed

Maximum Range

Feature Introduced



732.2 kbit/s-2.1 Mbit/s

10 meters

Speech only



2.1 Mbit/s-24 Mbit/s

10-30 meters

Enhanced Data Rate (EDR) 



24 Mbit/s

30 meters

High Speed (HS)



24 Mbit/s-25 Mbit/s

60 meters

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)



25 Mbit/s-50 Mbit/s

240 meters

Dual Audio Connection 


The Bluetooth versions also had their differentiations in syncing with devices:

  • Versions 1.0-3.0 were considered Classic Bluetooth. If you had a device that used 3.0, it was backwards compatible with previous versions. 4.0 and above were low energy bluetooth, but not the latter. 
  • Version 1.0 and 2.0 had legacy pairing: a connection made by assigning a device a shared passkey or PIN for authentication. 
  • 2.0-3.0 connected through secure simple pairing. The Bluetooth technology used a variety of pairing mechanisms and was able to detect the capabilities of the device. It also used a PIN. 
  • 4.0 and current versions of Bluetooth now use device pairing. It’s a permanent connection between two devices so that they always connect without following the normal discovery process (a PIN).

Bluetooth Connection


As mentioned before, 5.2 is the latest version of Bluetooth, but there is not much information about at the moment. There are some new features, but not enough devices have 5.2. The major difference between 5.0 and 5.1 is just better data transfer speed, security, improved connectivity despite being indoors, and more acurate detection of Bluetooth devices. 

You can always check on the device settings of your phone which version of Bluetooth you have. The versions cannot be upgraded. Most Bluetooth compatible devices also tell you in the packaging what version it can connect with. Now that you are more familiar with Bluetooth history, give your devices a go and happy pairing!


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