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Bluetooth 5.0 vs 4.2: What’s Different and Why it Matters

  • 5 min read

Bluetooth 5.0 vs 4.2: What’s Different and Why it Matters

In the modern age, almost everything we own uses wireless Bluetooth technology. Chances are you’re using a compatible device to read this article! Wireless streaming has truly changed the way we view technology and paved the way for future advancements related to our smart devices.

Bluetooth has come a long way since its inception about 25 years ago. What was once limited to wireless communication between cellular phones and computers has now sprouted into a vast network of voice-controlled technology and music streaming.

This happens because Bluetooth is constantly updating and upgrading. We now get to use Bluetooth 5, which is full of amazing features that weren’t present in the previous 4.2 version.

Let’s take a look at all of the new features available in Bluetooth 5 and why this matters for your everyday life.


History of Bluetooth

Bluetooth has become an eponym, meaning it’s a word that is now so ingrained in our culture that it has taken the place of the noun “wireless technology.” It’s easy to forget that Bluetooth is just a brand, not actually the real name of the technology itself.

But this is because Bluetooth is a frontrunner in wireless technology. It was conceived by Dr. Jaap Haartsen and Ericsson in 1994 and named after a renowned Viking who united Denmark and Norway in the 10th century. He had a dead tooth, which took on a bluish color, earning him the name Bluetooth.

The first consumer Bluetooth debuted in 1999 as a hands-free mobile headset. Later in the early 2000s, the first Bluetooth-compatible cell phones hit shelves.

Even then, Bluetooth 1.0 was filled with features that are still used today. But it wasn’t without its problems. Years later, we are able to enjoy all that Bluetooth 5.0 has to offer.

What Was In Bluetooth 1.0?

Before diving into the newest versions, it’s good to establish a baseline so you can see just how far this technology has come.

In the original version, data speeds capped off at only one megabyte per second, and the range in which compatible devices could communicate was a measly ten meters, or 32 feet. And with walls and obstacles in the way, that might barely be able to stream to an adjacent room.

Also, the amount of power consumed in the earliest versions of Bluetooth was much higher than it is now. Small devices were especially susceptible to power drainage because of the amount of energy needed to function.

With all this in mind, this was a technology that was way ahead of its time, and its fundamentals have not changed today.

What’s New In Bluetooth 5.0

There are some really great new features in the newest version of Bluetooth, but keep in mind that these only work on compatible peripherals. So if your phone or laptop is a bit old and can’t update to 5.0, you might not notice immediate changes. Thankfully, since it’s backwards compatible, you’ll still be able to use previous versions.

Bluetooth Low Energy

Bluetooth is known to suck down the battery of certain audio devices, but a low energy version was released in Bluetooth 4.0. The issue was that this was only available for a select few devices. 

However, in 5.0, all audio devices communicate over Bluetooth low energy, meaning that your battery life might be spared a little bit longer even when using your advanced Bluetooth transmitter and receiver.

Improved Speed and Range

While the range of Bluetooth has never been too much of an issue, it’s always great to get a little bit more room to work with. In version 5.0, the software has four times the range, two times the speed, and eight times the broadcasting capacity of past versions. 

Devices can communicate with each other at distances of up to 800 feet, but keep in mind that walls and obstacles might lessen that distance.

Dual Audio

One of the coolest features of the newest version is Bluetooth’s ability to utilize dual audio, meaning that you can play audio on two connected devices at the same time. This means that you and a friend could pair your wireless headphones to the same phone and enjoy the same music at the same time.

Moreover, this means you can play the same sounds over two speakers in the same room. This means you could make some DIY surround sound speakers with the ones you already own! 

Bluetooth 5.0 vs 4.2

These two versions of the software are very close to each other in the lineage, so they are similar in most ways. However, there are some key differences that might make it worth it to upgrade to the newest edition.

Data Rate

In version 4.2, the speed of data streaming was 1.4 megabytes per second. But in 5.0, this has almost doubled to 2.0 megabytes. Although this isn’t fast enough for video streaming, it does allow for spectacular audio streaming.

This is a very helpful feature, as it can help eliminate sync delays associated with using wireless speakers. Slow streaming speed is especially noticeable during a movie or show when the character’s lips are out of sync. To further reduce the risk of this problem, make sure you are using a low latency receiver.


The range that Bluetooth was capable of streaming across in version 4.2 was about 50 meters, or 200 feet. While this will naturally decrease inside, it was still a solid distance for audio streaming.

However, in 5.0, that distance has quadrupled. This range is stunning, and since it will use Bluetooth low energy, it won’t drain your battery life down to the core.

This means that you can continue listening to music on your headphones even if you’re on the other side of the house or even down the street!

Lower Power Consumption

In version 4.2, the low energy function in Bluetooth was only compatible with some audio devices. But in 5.0, this is a feature that is accessible across the board.

This is one of the best features to come about the new update, as it can extend the battery life of your headphones, computers, tablets, and amplification devices. You’ll be able to listen for a longer amount of time and from a greater distance between devices.

Why Is This All Important?

Since Bluetooth is so ingrained in our daily life, it’s easy to overlook just how great these new features are for our normal routines. But Bluetooth 5.0 has so many great new features that will vastly improve some of your existing devices.

The thing is, if you weren’t aware of these features, you might never use them! You’d miss out on being able to share music with a friend through dual audio or being able to stream music to rooms on the other side of the home. It’s important to know about new features so that you can utilize them and make the most of what technology has to offer.

Plus, it lets tech manufacturers come up with even greater ways to make use of the technology themselves. The possibilities are really endless.

In Summary

Although it’s hard to think that much could change between two versions of a technology, Bluetooth 5.0 has really set the bar high in terms of modern advancement. By multiplying the range and data speeds of its predecessor to insurmountable heights, Bluetooth devices are now more functional than ever before.

Combine that with the new dual audio feature that makes audio streaming to two devices possible, and this is a really amazing update that seems to have covered all of the bases.

And while we don’t know how they could possibly make things any better, we are very excited to see just exactly what Bluetooth 6.0 will bring to the table.



Eponym: Definition and Examples |

How does Bluetooth work? | Scientific American

Origin of the Name | Bluetooth® Technology Website