Differences between WiFi and Bluetooth

WiFi and Bluetooth
WiFi and Bluetooth

WiFi and Bluetooth are two technologies that we are  familiar with from smartphones . Current mobile phones, in addition to having a mobile data connection, offer  wireless connectivity  through WiFi and Bluetooth. Two very similar technologies for connecting devices but used for different things. What similarities and differences are there between WiFi and Bluetooth? What does each one do?

Both have to do with  connecting devices without wires . Both use the radio spectrum. Their technical names are practically identical, as well as their specifications. But, at the same time, we use them for different uses, as we will see later. In other words, they are complementary technologies,  such as 5G and WiFi 6  , and that we use more and more in our daily lives surrounded by  wireless devices .

How are WiFi and Bluetooth similar?

Bluetooth is a wireless technology for creating wireless personal area networks. WiFi is a technology that allows electronic devices to be connected wirelessly. Through a network access point. Come on, they are practically identical technologies. Both were also released in the same year, 1998.

More similar. Behind WiFi and Bluetooth there are consortiums of large technology companies. For WiFi there is the  Wi-Fi Alliance . For Bluetooth,  Bluetooth Special Interest Group . Both bring together companies of all kinds. The first was founded in 1999 under the umbrella of 3Com, Aironet, Intersil, Lucent, Nokia and Symbol Technologies. Over time others joined. The consortium that manages Bluetooth was created in 1998 by Ericsson, IBM, Intel, Toshiba and Nokia. Today it has many more members.

On a technical level, there are many similarities. The standard that regulates Bluetooth is IEEE 802.15.1-2002. It corresponds to Bluetooth 1.1, the first commercial version. Currently, we have  Bluetooth 5.0 , although compatible with 5.1 or 5.2 are already available. For its part, the standard that regulates WiFi is IEEE 802.11. For example, WiFi 5 corresponds to IEEE 802.11ac. And WiFi 6 is IEEE 802.11ax.

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Both WiFi and Bluetooth are technologies that use radio frequency to work. Radio waves  invisible to our eyes that carry data and information from one point to another. Specifically, the spectra used by WiFi are 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Bluetooth, for its part, uses the 2.4 GHz spectrum.

Differences between WiFi and Bluetooth, Connect devices

Differences between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

More data of interest. This time to show the differences. Bluetooth  has a range  of a maximum of 10 meters away. For its part, WiFi can reach distances of between 15 and 30 meters using the 5 GHz spectrum. And between 45 meters and 90 meters with the 2.4 GHz spectrum.

Precisely, that is why we use both technologies for similar but different solutions. They both connect devices to each other. And they do it wirelessly. And both allow you to create wireless networks to synchronize devices. But while WiFi is often used to  connect to the Internet , Bluetooth is used to  connect peripherals and devices . All in all, its network functions mean that both technologies can be used to send files over a short distance or  share the Internet from your smartphone .

In summary, Bluetooth is frequently used to  connect peripherals and devices to each other  without cables: keyboards, mice, speakers, microphones, headphones, printers… For its part,  WiFi connects the devices with the router  to access the Internet.

In terms of transfer speed, WiFi technology is faster, while Bluetooth technology is more powerful. Hence, it allows you to  connect devices instantly . While WiFi allows you to access the Internet quickly and efficiently.

For the rest, if you have a mobile phone, it is very likely that you will use both connections at the same time. Despite their similarities, they are compatible and  do not interfere with each other . You can connect to the Internet via WiFi while listening to music with your Bluetooth headphones. Everything at once.

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However, most devices that we can find on the market, and that use  wireless technologies to work , usually offer both, both WiFi and Bluetooth. Smart plugs and light bulbs, smartphones, smart watches and TVs, printers, smart appliances… Others, meanwhile, are limited to offering only Bluetooth, as is the case with headphones, sensors and other simpler connectables. In this case, sometimes we come across connections twinned with Bluetooth but with other commercial names. This is the case of  ZigBee  or  Z-Wave .

In short, WiFi and Bluetooth have more similarities than differences. But the differences between WiFi and Bluetooth basically center around that while WiFi  connects devices to the Internet , Bluetooth connects devices to each other.