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What is the difference between Bluetooth classic and Bluetooth low Energy

What is the difference between Bluetooth classic and Bluetooth low Energy

" Bluetooth Classic and Bluetooth Low Energy differ in power consumption, latency, data transfer rate, efficiency, and IoT application, amongst many other things."

The most anyone would have gotten from Bluetooth way back when it was a trendy mobile feature was transferring an image or an mp3 music file. That is what I used it for in my Nokia phone in 2010, like most people. It had several inefficiencies including slow transfer speed, occasional failure to connect and even transfer the files, etc. It might have been Bluetooth 4.0, the fourth-gen Bluetooth specification. Ironically, around 2010, Bluetooth 4.1 and Bluetooth 4.2 integrated three Bluetooth modes, low power Bluetooth, Bluetooth classic, and high speed Bluetooth and it was seen as a revolutionary step in wireless connectivity. For Bluetooth 5.0, the data transmission rate was double what it was in Bluetooth 4.0, but the transmission efficiency still lagged. It is easy to conclude that the limitations of Bluetooth directly govern the limitations of its IoT applications, and its ability to join Bluetooth-enabled devices to the internet.

Now in 2023, we are at Bluetooth 5.3 and several upgrades and enhancements have been added to the Bluetooth, including periodic advertising enhancement, improving energy consumption while maintaining efficiency, enhancing interference when peripherals and central devices are not close, etc.

Bluetooth standards and enhancements are designed and monitored by SIG (special interest groups), a group dedicated to promoting and enhancing Bluetooth and its applications in the modern-day Internet of things, such as BLE beacons and BLE tags or Bluetooth classic, etc.

What are Bluetooth Classic and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)?

In simple terms, Bluetooth classic is the traditional Bluetooth used for data transfer, and listening to audio files whereas BLE is popular for its low energy consumption in identification, tracking, positioning, and broadcasting/beaconing applications.

Bluetooth Classic

The term Bluetooth Classic is self-explanatory. It refers to the initial Bluetooth before the invention of Bluetooth low energy (around Bluetooth 4.0). The Bluetooth classic is still the go-to medium of data transfer and communication and for listening to music (the most important one) through headphones.

Bluetooth 5.0 greatly enhanced the Bluetooth classic over its predecessors and equipped it with a higher rate of data transfer (up to 2Mbps), less connection time, less interference, etc.

What is the difference between Bluetooth classic and Bluetooth low Energy

Bluetooth low Energy

Bluetooth Low Energy is all the rage in IoT applications now. Popular for its low power consumption, low latency in communication, and high range, BLE is now connecting millions of IoT devices. With IoT, BLE is now helping in the creation of intelligent furniture, intelligent medical, intelligent traffic networks in smart cities, intelligent logistics, intelligent cars, intelligent agriculture, etc.

Bluetooth Low Energy offers 128-bit AES security encryption and can be used as a BLE tag and BLE beacon.

BLE tags

BLE tags are Bluetooth LE-enabled smart tags that allow identification and tracking of an article via Bluetooth signals.

These are very popular for tagging and tracking needs in retail, logistics, inventory management, etc.

BLE beacons

Bluetooth beacons are Bluetooth-enabled broadcasting tools that allow for advertising and broadcasting important information like flight-related information, access and services-related information at airports, etc.

BLE beacons are most popular in advertising by broadcasting specially curated ad campaigns, discount coupons and sales offers to target consumers, directly through their Bluetooth-enabled smartphones, which enhances customer experience and builds brand loyalty as well.

The important differences between classic Bluetooth and BLE

Now that we know how Bluetooth classic and Bluetooth low energy work, let’s see where these two differ, allowing for varied applications of Bluetooth.

1. Communication

BLE and Bluetooth classic, both find application in communication but there is a significant difference in connectivity and data transfer.

BLE can be used as a transponder and emits signals periodically, allowing for its use in proximity sensors, wearables like heart rate monitors, fitbits, etc. and the data transfer rate here is low than classic Bluetooth. Classic Bluetooth allows data and audio communication with a higher transfer rate.

2. Power consumption

Another fundamental distinction between Bluetooth Classic and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is their power consumption profiles. Bluetooth Classic, also known as Basic Rate/Enhanced Data Rate (BR/EDR), is intended for continuous data streaming applications and often requires more power than BLE. Devices that use Bluetooth Classic technology, such as audio streaming devices and file transfer accessories, need a consistent connection and constant data transmission, resulting in increased power consumption. Bluetooth Low Energy, on the other hand, is designed for low-power applications, allowing devices to run over extended periods while using very little energy. BLE devices operate in low-power modes, sporadically broadcasting small bursts of data, resulting in much lower power usage. It makes BLE excellent for battery-powered devices, such as wearables, IoT sensors, and beacon devices when energy efficiency is for long-term operation.

Classic Bluetooth uses more power (1W) than BLE (0.01 to 0.5W). Some BLE transponders can last for years.

3. Latency in Data Transmission 

Another primary distinction between Bluetooth Classic and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is latency, which refers to how long it takes for data to be exchanged between devices. Latency in Bluetooth Classic varies based on the type of device and the distance between them. Bluetooth Classic has higher latency than BLE because of its continuous connection mode and higher data throughput needs. Bluetooth Classic's latency can range from a few milliseconds to several hundred milliseconds, making it ideal for applications that can tolerate minor delays, such as music streaming or file transfer. Bluetooth Low Energy, on the other hand, is designed for low-latency communication, with average latency ranging between a few milliseconds and tens of milliseconds.

Latency is higher in classic Bluetooth (100ms) than in BLE (6ms).

4. Security Features and Encryption

Classic Bluetooth uses 56/128-bit AES encryption while BLE uses 128-bit AES along with a secure connection key, allowing for more security.

Bluetooth Classic generally uses a pairing and encryption-based security approach to ensure device connectivity. To prevent unauthorized access, devices pair by establishing a trusted connection, generally through a PIN or passkey exchange. Once paired, encryption protects data sent between devices from interception or modification.

In contrast, Bluetooth Low Energy focuses on reducing energy consumption and complexity, resulting in a simpler security architecture than Bluetooth Classic. BLE devices frequently use a connectionless security mode, in which encryption keys are transferred dynamically during each connection session to ensure data delivery.

In summary, Bluetooth Classic and Bluetooth Low Energy are Bluetooth technology types with unique properties and uses. Bluetooth Classic is optimized for continuous data streaming and high data throughput applications, whereas Bluetooth Low Energy is intended for low-power, intermittent data transmission, and brief bursts of communication. Understanding the distinctions between these two variations is critical for selecting the best technology for certain use cases and achieving maximum performance and energy efficiency in various applications.

Disclaimer: The information presented here is for general information purposes only and true to best of our understanding. Users are requested to use any information as per their own understanding and knowledge. Before using any of the information, please refer to our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.

  • Created on Mar 17, 2023

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