Following are the essential features of the various Bluetooth versions.
Bluetooth 5.3 (2021)
An incremental upgrade, Version 5.3 adds more stability, security and efficiency. Peripherals can list preferred channels with a central device. Previously, only the central device could set channels.
Bluetooth 5.2 (2020)
LE power control (LEPC) provides adjustable power that can be requested by peer devices. The enhanced attribute protocol (EATT) enables parallel operations between LE clients and servers.
Bluetooth 5.1 (2019)
More antennas provider greater tracking accuracy, and generic attribute (GATT) profile caching makes pairing quicker by retraining requirements.
Bluetooth 5 (2016)
A more robust version with extended battery life, BT 5 increased the outdoor transmission range from 50 to 200 meters. Location services are enhanced because it can convey more information prior to establishing a connection. The first smartphones to support BT 5 were the Galaxy S8 and iPhone 8 and X.
Bluetooth 4.2 (2014)
Designed for the Internet of Things (IoT), BT 4.2 increased the payload size in the Bluetooth packet by 10x, dramatically lowering the overhead to yield 2.5 times more data. The low-power wireless personal area network (WPAN) version of IPv6 (6LoWPAN) is supported, which enables billions of devices to have a unique IP address. It also supports beacon privacy, which prevents retail shops from sensing a user's presence (see iBeacon
). See 6LoWPAN
Bluetooth 4.1 (2013)
More efficient data exchange and better co-existence with LTE frequencies. BT 4.1 maintains connections with less manual intervention, and devices can be both client and hub at the same time, enabling Bluetooth devices to communicate with each other. Prior to BT 4.1, devices transmitted to a hub either built into the computer or in a stand-alone dongle.
Bluetooth 4 (2010)
Introduced low-power Bluetooth Low Energy, branded as "Bluetooth Smart." See Bluetooth LE
Bluetooth 3 + HS (2009)
Branded as Bluetooth 3.0 + HS (High Speed), it started the connection via Bluetooth but transmitted data over Wi-Fi.
Bluetooth 2.1 (2007)
Secure Simple Pairing (SSP) was added to make pairing faster and more secure. Encryption was made mandatory, security was improved, and less power was used.
Bluetooth 2 (2004)
Branded as Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate), three bit encoding (versus one) increased the data rate from 1 to 3 Mbps (in practice 2.1 Mbps). Interference handling was improved, and less power was used.
Bluetooth 1.2 (2003)
BT 1.2 (Basic Data Rate) was the first widely used Bluetooth technology. Adaptive frequency hopping (AFH) helped avoid interference with Wi-Fi and other technologies in the same frequency. Pairing speed was improved.
Bluetooth 1.1 (2001)
Improvements to reliability and interoperability; mostly backward compatible but not 100%.
Bluetooth 1.0 and 1.0B (1999)
The first Bluetooth specs. There were deployment issues that kept BT from gaining ground quickly.
5.0 3 Mbps (best range)
4.2 + BLE 3 Mbps (IoT)
4.1 3 Mbps
4.0 + BLE 3 Mbps (low energy)
3.0 + HS 24 Mbps (Wi-Fi)
2.1 + EDR 3 Mbps
2.0 + EDR 3 Mbps
1.2 0.7 Mbps
1.0 0.7 Mbps
Class (mW) (meters)
1 100 100
2 2.5 10
3 1 1