Bluetooth Classic Vs Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) : Which one is right for you?

Bluetooth Vs Bluetooth Low Energy!


Have you ever been to a “Bluetooth Low Energy” or “IOT ” seminar and wondered whether the speaker actually understood the Bluetooth related buzzwords that he or she was railing about in every sentence?Well, dont worry anymore, here is a good primer on the Bluetooth Classic Vs ¬†Bluetooth Low Energy debate

1Bluetooth (Classic) Vs Bluetooth Low Energy : The basics

Before we start looking at the difference between Bluetooth Smart and Bluetooth Smart Energy, lets first understand how Bluetooth Low Energy differs from Classic Bluetooth. Classic Bluetooth, or the original Bluetooth was an extremely popular connectivity option for products which involves streaming of data and was especially suited for voice streaming. So, products such as Headphones and streaming sensor applications used Classic Bluetooth.

Then, the Bluetooth 4.0 specification came along and enabled Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity. Bluetooth Low Energy essentially offers low power consumption of a magnitude of 1-50% of that of Classic Bluetooth.

2Whats common : Bluetooth Classic Vs Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE or Bluetooth LE)

Lets first see whats common between Bluetooth Classic and BLE:

  • Both Bluetooth Classic and Bluetooth LE operate in the same 2.4 GHz ISM band and have similar RF output power.
  • If you have transferred data/photos/music from a smartphone to another device, you will know how pairing and connectivity works with Bluetooth and Bluetooth LE.
  • Both Bluetooth Classic and Bluetooth LE operate with the same pairing technology, authentication and even encryption
  • Both Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy involve devices that operate in a classic master-slave model. First the Bluetooth devices need to be paired and then the data transmission can happen.

In case you have begun to think that the Classic Bluetooth Vs Bluetooth Low Energy debate is like comparing two identical twins, we now move to the most important difference- power consumption

3How does Bluetooth Low Energy achieve low power consumption Vs Classic Bluetooth

Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE) offers low power consumption since it essentially operates in sleep mode and is woken up only when a connection is initiated. Essentially, a Bluetooth LE device is like a sleepyhead who has to be woken up to do any data transfers.

As a result, a Bluetooth LE device offers power consumption in the order of microamperes and peak power consumption of 15-20 mA. The power consumption in Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE) devices is often of a magnitude of 1-5% Vs Classic Bluetooth devices. Also, Bluetooth Low Energy devices can be powered by a coin cell battery for 1-5 years

4Classic Bluetooth Vs Bluetooth Low Energy : Applications

Classic Bluetooth is fantastic for products that require continuous streaming of voice and data. Headphones are the classic application of Classic Bluetooth.

Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE) is ideally suited to connectivity in products that require only periodic transfer of data and not continuous streaming of data. This makes Bluetooth Low Energy suitable to IOT applications such as building automation and lighting.
ble home automation

5A Comparative Study of key factors: Classic Bluetooth vs Bluetooth Low Energy

Factors Bluetooth (Classic) Vs Bluetooth Low Energy
Data Transfer Rate 2-3 Mbps 200 kbps
Latency <6s
Time for sending data Typically 100ms Typically 3ms
Power Consumption 1 (as a reference) 1%-50% of Bluetooth Classic
Products suited for Products that need continuous data/voice streaming such as headphones Products that involve infrequent data transfers and need to operate on low power consumption


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