Bluetooth is used in almost all major consumer products, including phones, tablets, laptops, headphones, speakers, TVs, and video game consoles, because it can do so many things from playing audio from one source to a speaker to transferring files from one device to another.
For some time now, Bluetooth has been the preferred technology to wirelessly pair two devices, and over the years we’ve seen it change and become better and better in the process. Yet, unfortunately, some old-school myths about it still persist. It’s time to bust them.
In short, today’s Bluetooth is different from the Bluetooth of years ago. Here are the most common misconceptions that people still hold and what you should know instead.
1. “Enabling Bluetooth Kills Battery Life”
Back in the early days of smartphones, yes, keeping your Bluetooth on led to a drop in your battery life. That’s because once your connection was on, it would actively look for devices to pair with at all times.
But that’s a smartphone myth you can now forget. With the new Bluetooth standards starting with version 4 and beyond, we got something called the Low Energy (LE) module.
LE modules use different technologies to similarly search for Bluetooth devices in your vicinity without taking up the same amount of power as the earlier versions of Bluetooth.
Similarly, once a connection has been made, an LE device won’t draw substantial power when data is not being transferred. For example, if you have paired your smartphone with a pair of great Bluetooth headphones, it won’t draw power when you aren’t playing a song.
As a result, Bluetooth LE’s overall power consumption has been lowered by half or more. Where the classic Bluetooth would use 1W, Bluetooth LE would use between 0.01 to 0.5W. A massive improvement.
2. “Bluetooth Is Bad For Your Health”
At this point, there is no solid consensus on whether radiation from mobile phones is harmful to your health. However, we do know one thing for sure: certain Bluetooth headsets are definitely much safer for you.
Radiation is about power and Bluetooth excels in that regard. Bluetooth’s maximum output for a Class 1 device is 100mW of power, and it rarely does that.
In fact, most Bluetooth devices you use have a maximum of 1mW of power. On the other hand, most standard phones can easily operate at 1,000mW or 2,000mW when you’re using 3G or 4G services.
So no, Bluetooth might not be completely safe, but wearing a Bluetooth headset is better for your exposure to radiation than a smartphone. You obviously can’t escape having a phone with you in this day and age, so if you are a little wary of the radiation consequences, get a Bluetooth headset.
3. “Bluetooth Only Works in Small Rooms”
Does your smartphone’s Bluetooth only work across a short range? Probably, yes. But what you may not know is that Bluetooth has three classes, and the operating distance of Bluetooth depends upon which class the device falls into:
- Bluetooth Class 3 devices have a range of less than 10 meters.
- Bluetooth Class 2 devices have a range of around 10 meters.
- Bluetooth Class 1 devices have a range of around 100 meters.
Generally, you’ll only get Bluetooth Class 1 in devices which have their own power source or have a significant power unit, like desktop computers or speakers that require an electrical connection. Most smartphones and tablets use Bluetooth Class 2 or 3.
Yet even then, 10 meters is the theoretical distance that they’re aiming for. Without any interference, like walls, you’ll find that it sometimes extends beyond that.
The thing that really matters here, at least as far as wireless tech goes, there’s hardly a difference between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Direct. If you’ve been using Wi-Fi Direct because of range concerns, you may actually be fine going with Bluetooth instead.
4. “Non-Discoverable Bluetooth Is Secure”
No! No, no, no! Bluetooth technology has never had a great reputation for security, but the more recent versions have plugged a lot of holes and gaps. Chief among these myths is that if you set your device as non-discoverable, then others with malicious intent can’t find it and you’ll be safe.
Well, that’s not true at all.
The Bluetooth Device Address (BDA) might be hidden in non-discoverable mode, but hackers have gotten wise to that over the years. Scanners and sniffer devices can still find your BDA and infiltrate it even when it’s non-discoverable.
The biggest culprit in this infiltration are the default passwords that are used on most Bluetooth devices: 0000 or 1234. Because of this, almost anyone can connect to your Bluetooth device once they have your address.
This simple, illogical system is the cause behind most cases of eavesdropping and Bluejacking (connecting to a phone to send spam) on Bluetooth devices. So the first thing you need to do right now is go to your phone’s Bluetooth settings and change the password to a secure four-digit PIN.
If you’re really worried about a malware attack through Bluetooth, keep your connection OFF instead of non-discoverable. Bluetooth can’t be infiltrated if it’s off.
5. “Bluetooth Interferes With Wi-Fi”
Like most other wireless technologies, Bluetooth uses the 2.4 GHz radio frequency to send and receive data. That’s the same frequency used by everything from your Wi-Fi network to your microwave oven.
So naturally, the first thought is that your Bluetooth connection’s stability and speed depends upon what other devices are running in the vicinity and whether they’re broadcasting data on said wireless frequencies.
Well, not quite.
Bluetooth uses something called adaptive frequency hopping and this has really improved with Bluetooth 4.0. Let’s break it down to understand what it does exactly.
The 2.4 GHz frequency is a band that goes from 2,400 MHz to 2,483.5 MHz. Bluetooth uses two channels, each monitoring 50% of the band. The signal rapidly “hops” from one free frequency to another, thus ensuring that it won’t get disrupted by other devices trying to use that band.
The end result is that while other wireless connections can seek to use the same frequency that Bluetooth is using, its super-fast adaptive hopping keeps your connection stable without drops in speed.
How Often Do You Use Bluetooth?
Apart from Bluetooth, you have several other options to connect devices wirelessly, such as Wi-Fi Direct, NFC and others. Each has their own pros and cons.
We want to know which ones you use and why. Tell us your thoughts about Bluetooth or its competitors in the comments below.