Bluetooth vs. Wi-Fi: What's the Difference?

Yes, they're both wireless, but they serve very different purposes

Jeremy Laukkonen

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Bluetooth is a standard that connects computer peripherals wirelessly to a host device. The most common uses connect speakers, head units, keyboards, printers, and headsets to a phone, tablet, or computer. Wi-Fi is a standard that enables wireless internet access for devices on a local area network (LAN). While dependent on modems, Wi-Fi networks use wireless routers instead of Ethernet cables to connect devices to the internet. We take a deep dive into the similarities and differences between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

Bluetooth vs Wi-Fi

Overall Findings

Mostly for connecting devices to each other.

Lower power, shorter range, and slower data speeds.

Operates on the RF (radio frequency) spectrum.

Mostly for connecting devices to the internet.

Higher power, wider range, and faster data speeds.

Operates on the RF (radio frequency) spectrum.

Bluetooth is a wireless networking protocol that allows two devices to communicate with each other through a radio frequency (RF). With Bluetooth, you can wirelessly control a speaker through an app on your phone or to print documents on a printer that isn’t physically connected to your computer. Bluetooth is also used with hands-free headsets, wireless navigation systems, and remote mouse and keyboards.

A Wi-Fi network is the wireless extension of a wired modem connection. Wi-Fi is the wireless connectivity protocol used instead of a wired connection such as Ethernet. It requires a wireless router, through which all Wi-Fi devices on the network are channeled.

The term Wi-Fi is sometimes used interchangeably with the internet. Wi-Fi is not the same as the internet. The modem connects to the internet.

Both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth operate via radio frequency, though the range of a Wi-Fi network is typically larger than a Bluetooth connection. Although many Wi-Fi networks use the same 2.4 GHz band as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi uses more power.

Wi-Fi Bluetooth
Availability Since 1994 Since 1991
Frequency 2.4, 3.6 and 5 GHz 2.4 GHz
Bandwidth 11 Mbps 800 Kbps
Range Up to 92 meters 1 to 100 meters depending on class
Latency 150 ms 200 ms
Bit-rate 2.1 Mbps 600 Mbps
Typical devices Computers, game consoles, phones, smart TVs, and internet of things (IoT) devices. Computers, phones, input devices like mice and keyboards, fitness trackers, headsets, and smart speakers.
Required hardware Wi-Fi adapter connected to each device, and a wireless router or wireless access points. Built-in bluetooth radio or a Bluetooth adapter connected to each device.
Typical use Networking Connecting devices

Speed: Higher Power Delivers Higher Speeds

Most use cases don't require super fast data speeds.

Capable of fast data transfers for high-bandwidth streaming media.

Bluetooth is typically slower and offers less bandwidth than Wi-Fi. This is one of the reasons why Bluetooth audio quality is considered inferior. Wi-Fi can be used to stream high-quality music, video content, and other large data streams.

Bluetooth 4.0 offers greater speeds than previous versions of the technology. However, it is capped at 25 Mbps, and the effective rate is lower than that. Wi-Fi network speeds vary depending on the protocol, but the slowest tolerable connections are faster than the theoretical limit of Bluetooth 4.0.

Use Cases: Peripherals vs. Whole Home Internet Access

Mostly for connecting peripheral devices like speakers, printers, keyboards, and headphones.

Shorter operational range than Wi-Fi.

Mostly for connecting to the internet.

Establishes a wireless LAN (local area network) accessible by any device with login credentials.

Bluetooth is primarily used to connect two devices over a short range using low energy. This makes it ideal for transmitting audio from a phone or tablet to a speaker system, or for enabling hands-free calls in a car. Bluetooth also provides an easy way to listen to music while driving, functioning as a wireless auxiliary cable.

Wi-Fi isn’t used in these situations, as the main purpose is to create a network for other devices to access the internet. Accordingly, it’s more useful in home and office settings than in cars.

Networking: All Route to the Modem

Wirelessly connects speakers, head units, keyboards, printers, and headsets to control devices—usually a phone, tablet, or computer.

Wirelessly connects a device to a modem, which connects to the internet. Can also connect to other devices in a LAN.

Both wired and wireless devices need to be routed through a modem, which is the actual portal to the internet. As long as the modem is connected to the internet, any device connected to the modem is (or has the capacity to be) connected to the internet.

Bluetooth connections can stem from either an Ethernet or Wi-Fi connection. A successful Bluetooth pairing will range up to about 30 feet. However, in most situations, the effective range is shorter. Bluetooth uses comparatively little energy and is fit for a personal area network, or PAN. PANs are used for communication among personal devices and contrast with a LAN.

A Wi-Fi network is the LAN through which devices can connect to a modem and, in turn, the internet. For that reason, it’s possible to use a wireless router to establish a Wi-Fi network without any internet connection involved. This allows devices on the network to share data with each other, though these devices won’t be able to connect to the internet without a modem.

Final Verdict

Comparing Wi-Fi and Bluetooth is like comparing apples and oranges. Wi-Fi is superior to Bluetooth in terms of range and speed. Bluetooth is favored for its low energy and narrow RF range, which Wi-Fi lacks.

Wi-Fi is the favored standard for establishing wireless home networks. Bluetooth is the favored standard for wirelessly connecting computer peripherals. Bluetooth is also increasingly found in head units, speakers, and home theater receivers. It’s hard to conceive of much competition for either, but the closest would be Wi-Fi Direct.

Wi-Fi Direct is a newer take on the device-to-device standard that Bluetooth has dominated for the last couple of decades. Like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi Direct is designed to allow devices to find each other without setting up an ad hoc network. The biggest difference between traditional ad hoc Wi-Fi connections and Wi-Fi Direct is that the latter includes a discovery tool. The other issue with Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Direct is power consumption, which is heavy and always an issue with mobile devices.


Difference between Bluetooth and Wifi

Both Bluetooth and Wifi are among the most popular wireless technologies introduced to date. Both create as well as handle wireless networks using radio frequency waves. Wifi and Bluetooth use a similar mechanism which helps them build a wireless network for different groups. Despite this, Bluetooth and Wifi differ from one another in various aspects. These two types of wireless tools have different standards, which is the first difference between the two.



Bluetooth icon

Bluetooth is a type of wireless communication which helps in exchanging or transferring data within a distance of 30 feet i.e. a short space. Normally, people use Bluetooth to transfer media such as photos and videos from one personal mobile device to another. This means that a portable device with Bluetooth can easily connect with other devices that support Bluetooth, including an mp3 player, or a wireless headset. In a nutshell, the technology of Bluetooth can be defined as a connection that links two mobile devices through a safe, wireless network.

Wi-fi icon

Wi-fi icon

When it comes to Wifi, it is used more for managing full-scale networks, since it supports a connection much faster compared to Bluetooth. Wifi provides a better range and ensures more security. It allows different devices such as laptops, smartphones, and computers to get connected to a network using one access point.

Bluetooth vs Wifi

The major difference between Bluetooth and Wifi is the speed and security they offer, and the purpose for using them. While Bluetooth is used to connect two mobile devices, Wifi is used to quickly connect a device to the internet without using a cord. To date the security provided by Bluetooth is confined to key matching, whereas Wifi provides higher security with new versions being included in it with the passage of time.

A modem or router supports Wifi which covers a wider area, and conversely, a router manages Bluetooth which covers a small distance. The latter works at a frequency of 2.4GHz, but the former is workable at different frequencies, including 2.4, 3.6 and 5 GHz. Also, the Bluetooth can only connect up to 7 devices at once. In comparison, the count of Wifi connections depends on the router.

Bluetooth devices can be connected within a distance of 30m. However, devices can connect using a Wifi network within a notable distance of 100m.


Чем отличается Wi-Fi от блютус (Bluetooth). Объясняю простыми словами

Что Wi-Fi, что Bluetooth являются технологиями беспроводной связи и способны соединить устройства между собой. В этой публикации я вам расскажу основные отличия этих двух технологий.

Особенность подключения

Wi-Fi создан для создания сети между несколькими устройствами, а также чтобы не тянуть провода по помещению.

Блютус же заточен именно под соединение между двумя устройствами, например: компьютер и мышка, смартфон и наушники.

Притом соединение по блютус происходит гораздо быстрее, чем по Wi-Fi. Блютус предназначен как для эпизодического быстро подключения, так и для длительного (беспроводная мышь / клавиатура).

Радиус действия

На практике радиус действия блютус не превышает 20-30 метров (в зависимости от препятствий).

Мощности Wi-Fi же хватит на работе в помещениях с препятствиями на расстоянии до 50 метров (зависит от версии протокола и конечно же устройств). А вот в случае с блютус два устройства должны находиться максимально близко друг к другу, чтобы скорость была хорошая.

Bluetooth намного прост в подключении, а вот конфигурация сети с помощью Wi-Fi может быть сложна для обывателя. Блютус также менее безопасен, чем Wi-Fi и взломать его гораздо проще.

Wi-Fi и Bluetooth иногда используют одинаковые частоты, что может вызвать проблемы при одновременном соединении, но такое бывает редко.

В любом современном смартфоне или ноутбуке обязательно присутствует и Wi-Fi и Bluetooth.

Вывод: две совершенно разные технологии, но имеют одну общую особенность — соединение происходит без проводов и с использованием радиоканала.

А вот до того, как изобрели Bluetooth в смартфонах был инфракрасный порт, кстати самый надежный способ передачи информации. Про него почитать можно здесь>>


What’s the difference between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi?

When is it better to use a Bluetooth-enabled vs. a smart device? Find out what separates Bluetooth from Wi-Fi, and which one is better for you.

At Allconnect, we work to present quality information with editorial integrity. While this post may contain offers from our partners, our opinions are our own. Here’s how we make money.

There is a lot of technology we use without quite knowing how it works. This is especially true when it comes to our wireless gadgets and anything that transmits signals over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. To add to the confusion, many devices incorporate both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, such as a Wi-Fi connected iPad that has a Bluetooth enabled keyboard connected to it.

However, it’s important to recognize the difference between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi because each has its own set of rules, restrictions and security risks. Follow along as we demystify these two terms so you can be a Bluetooth and Wi-Fi expert.

Are Bluetooth and Wi-Fi the same thing?

No. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are not the same thing, though they do sometimes serve similar functions. The main difference between the two technologies is that Bluetooth does not require internet access, while Wi-Fi does.

So, for example, if you are trying to connect that iPad keyboard to your iPad, you can do that without being in range of an internet connection. That’s Bluetooth.

But, if you want to perform a Google search on that same iPad, you will need Wi-Fi service.

Need more help telling the difference? Let’s think about some devices that you use in your home. Try to determine if those devices are working on Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or both. Here’s some familiar ones you may already own:

Common Bluetooth devices:

  • Wireless mouse
  • Wireless headphones
  • Wireless keyboard

Common Wi-Fi devices:

  • Tablets
  • E-readers
  • Smartphones
  • Smart video doorbells

And here are some devices that use both:

You may have noticed these items all have one thing in common — they are a part of the IoT (internet of things). The “internet of things” refers to all the smart devices we use in every room of our homes that have Bluetooth or Wi-Fi capabilities.

A device labeled as “smart” might connect via either of these two technologies, and sometimes it can be hard to know which one you are using. Let’s take a closer look at each technology to get a better understanding.

How does Bluetooth work?

Bluetooth uses short-range radio waves to “pair,” or connect, nearby devices. Bluetooth-enabled devices have a tiny computer chip that broadcasts a signal. This is how Bluetooth devices can detect each other. And what’s behind the funny name? According to Grammarist, Bluetooth is “derived from the medieval Danish king Harald Blåtand, or Harold Bluetooth,” and “it is a trademarked name,” so you will always see the term capitalized.

How does Wi-Fi work?

Like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi also uses radio waves. And, like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi connects devices that are in close proximity to each other. But Wi-Fi’s secret ingredient is internet access. Wi-Fi works by connecting to the internet, typically through a wireless router. You can also access Wi-Fi at public Wi-Fi hotspots.

So, if you have a Wi-Fi device but are unable to connect to an internet signal, then you won’t be able to use your device to its full potential. For instance, say you take your Wi-Fi enabled iPad to your friend’s house. Until they give you their home Wi-Fi password, you won’t be able to access the internet on your iPad. But you can still access all the content that is already downloaded onto your tablet.

Frequently asked questions about Bluetooth vs. Wi-Fi

Can you use Bluetooth without Wi-Fi?

Yes. You can use Bluetooth without Wi-Fi. In fact, Bluetooth does not need any internet access at all to be set up and used. However, you will find many Bluetooth devices are also capable of connecting to the internet.

Which is better: Bluetooth or Wi-Fi?

It depends on what you are trying to do. For quick file transfers or sharing data between two devices, Bluetooth is best. However, Wi-Fi has a broader range, so you can connect devices that are further apart.

Which uses more data: Bluetooth or Wi-Fi?

Bluetooth devices do not require an internet connection so they use zero data. If you have a data allowance, you can use Bluetooth without worrying about paying overage fees. Wi-Fi doesn’t use data either. However, many smartphone carriers automatically switch your phone to cellular data when you are not connected to a Wi-Fi network, which can cause you to unintentionally use data. Check your smartphone settings to modify this feature.

Which is more secure: Bluetooth or Wi-Fi?

Both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are vulnerable to hackers. However, Wi-Fi tends to be a greater target due to the sensitive data that is often transmitted via Wi-Fi connections.

To pair two Bluetooth devices, the receiver must typically “accept” the incoming data. In rare instances, a close-range hacker can send unsolicited messages or request device data. When this happens, it’s called Bluejacking or Bluesnarfing.

Want to know more answers to your common internet questions? Reach out and ask our experts on Facebook and Twitter. Your question might be featured in an upcoming post!

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What’s the Difference Between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi?

Smart city and connection lines. Internet concept of global business in Sydney, Australia. Concept for wifi or bluetooth

If you have a smartphone, laptop, tablet, or similar device, it is probably equipped with both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi wireless capabilities. But what exactly are Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and how do they differ?

Bluetooth, developed in the late 1990s, is a technology designed to enable short-range wireless communication between electronic devices, such as between a laptop and a smartphone or between a computer and a television. Bluetooth works by using radio frequencies, rather than the infrared spectrum used by traditional remote controls. As a result, Bluetooth eliminates the need not only for a wire connection but also for maintaining a clear line of sight to communicate between devices.

Wi-Fi is similar to Bluetooth in that it also uses radio waves for high-speed data transfer over short distances without the need for a wire connection. Wi-Fi works by breaking a signal into pieces and transmitting those fragments over multiple radio frequencies. This technique enables the signal to be transmitted at a lower power per frequency and also allows multiple devices to use the same Wi-Fi transmitter. Initially developed in the 1990s, Wi-Fi has undergone several standardization processes, approved by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), to allow for greater bandwidth in data transfer.

Although both are wireless forms of communication, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi differ in terms of their purpose, capabilities, and other factors. Bluetooth allows for short-range data transfer between devices. As an example, it is commonly employed in headsets for mobile phones, enabling hands-free phone use. Wi-Fi, on the other hand, allows devices to connect to the Internet. Bluetooth limits the number of devices that can connect at any one time, whereas Wi-Fi is open to more devices and more users. In addition, Bluetooth, because it requires only an adapter on each connecting device, tends to be simpler to use and needs less power than Wi-Fi, although this is achieved at the expense of range and speed of data transfer, in which Wi-Fi typically exceeds Bluetooth’s capabilities.


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