What is the Difference Between Bluetooth and WiFi?

April 2, 2020
Comment Chloe

Both WiFi and Bluetooth are easy-to use technologies that have become integral to our everyday life. Each technology differs in their design and purpose. Which one we use is dependent upon our device’s specifications. 

There can be confusion among some users as to the exact differences between the two and how they are used. The key difference to users is that Bluetooth connects devices without using cables and offers portability, while WiFi provides high-speed Internet and network connections. bluetooth and wifi

What are Bluetooth and WiFi?

Bluetooth and WiFi are standards for wireless communication. There are many different kinds of WiFi standards under the umbrella of “WiFi.” Devices that use WiFi use different standards. 

Both WiFi and Bluetooth use radio, which degrades as the distance increases from its source. Both technologies are found in every laptop, tablet and smartphone. They can be used at the same time doing different tasks. 

Related: How to Choose the Best WiFi Router for Your Home

How do our Devices use Bluetooth?

Devices such as telephones, printers, modems and headsets use Bluetooth when they are near each other to share information. 

Devices need to be within a range of 5 to 30 meters. Unlike the infrared technology in our TV remotes, it does not need to be in line of sight with the device. 

Bluetooth is designed for low-bandwidth applications like transferring sound data with a headset connected to a phone or a mouse to a computer. The benefits are that it is low cost and eliminates the need for chords for our digital devices. 

How Do our Devices use WiFi?

We regularly rely on WiFi to provide Internet to our laptops, tablets, smart phones and increasingly our home. WiFi is a method to transmit broadband Internet to our devices using wireless transmitters and radio signals. Upon receipt, the data is converted into a radio signal that can be received and read by WiFi enabled devices. 

WiFi uses more power and requires configuration of hardware and software. WiFi is also more complex to setup than Bluetooth and requires more power. However, WiFi is increasingly entering the market of devices previously dominated by Bluetooth. It has a larger bandwidth and range. Bluetooth has a bandwidth of 800 Kbps compared to WiFi’s 11 Mbps. 

Adapters are required by all connecting devices in the case of both standards. WiFi also requires a wireless router and/or wireless access point (WAP). WiFi range is dependent on your router or WAP, as well as the quality of its antenna. Bluetooth has a range of less than thirty feet. 

Should I Buy Devices that Use WiFi or Bluetooth?

WiFi devices have entered the markets previously dominated by Bluetooth, such as speakers and printers. Some devices now even offer the capability of using both which means you can benefit from the pros of both depending on your needs. 

For example, in the case of speakers, Bluetooth speakers are lighter and more portable. These might be used more outside or when travelling. WiFi speakers require an outlet and generally an app. The WiFi speakers offer a stronger more stable signal meaning higher quality in most cases. 

Which product you should choose is dependent upon your use and price point. There are many resources available offering reviews of such devices.