The iPhone 4S was the first smartphone ever launched featuring the newest version of Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.0. Since then, we have been seeing more and more Bluetooth 4.0 ready devices coming to the market like the Motorola RAZR MAXX and the HTC One X. So the question a lot of people find themselves asking about Bluetooth 4.0 after seeing their new phone has it is: What the heck is it and does it even make a difference?
What is Bluetooth 4.0? Bluetooth 4.0 is exactly what the name would have you believe: it’s the next version of the same old Bluetooth technology we all know and love. Phones that have Bluetooth 4.0 are often referred to as Bluetooth Smart Ready while the accessories or peripherals taking advantage of this technology are dubbed Bluetooth Smart.
Don’t worry, a Bluetooth 4.0 Ready phone will still be fully backwards compatible with your Bluetooth 3.0 accessories and peripherals so you won’t have to throw out that old beat up headset just yet. Of course, using accessories and peripherals that are pre-4.0 will prevent you from taking advantage of Bluetooth 4.0’s new features.
Does it make a difference? Speaking of new features, what exactly are they? Well, the main one is the lower power consumption between two Bluetooth 4.0 devices. I think this is something worth getting excited about as I’m sure a lot of you have found that when you use your Bluetooth (or just leave it connected) you’re battery life starts to tank.
To avoid this, Bluetooth 4.0 devices won’t be constantly communicating with one another when they’re paired. Instead, the devices will stay in standby until actual information needs to be sent over from one device to another. For example, imagine a Bluetooth 4.0 heart rate monitor. The only time the device would communicate with your phone is if/when your heart rate reaches a certain level. For all other times, the device remains in standby using little to no battery.
As a result, you get much better battery life. Such low power consumption means that devices like the heart rate monitor from the example can work from 6 months to even a couple of years on a single tiny battery’s charge. The use of small batteries can reduce the overall size of the device and, as you can imagine, will make wearing things like a heart rate monitor or whatever accessory manufacturers come up with in the future much more practical.