Why Apple and Samsung are Using Bluetooth 5

Posted on September 27, 2017 by Jason Marcel

It’s been less than a year since the adoption of the Bluetooth 5 core specification, and we’re already seeing widespread use in flagship devices from the world’s two most-recognized smartphone vendors. Samsung’s Galaxy S8, S8+, and Galaxy Note 8, along with Apple iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and iPhone X, are leveraging Bluetooth 5 to deliver the best in wireless connectivity.

“It’s faster, has longer range, and can transfer more information,” said Jon Mundy from Trusted Reviews. “Perhaps most excitingly, Bluetooth 5 has enough bandwidth to support two sets of wireless devices at the same time,” enabling the potential to stream audio to speakers in different rooms or on two different sets of headphones.

Longer Range and Higher Bandwidth

Bluetooth 5 is a transformative update that significantly increases the range, speed, and broadcast messaging capacity of Bluetooth applications, making use cases in smart home automation, enterprise, and industrial markets a reality.

New innovations built on the Bluetooth 5 specification can take advantage of four times greater range or double the bandwidth. Four times the range helps to deliver an extended, more robust connection, enabling full-home and building or outdoor use cases. By doubling the speed, without increasing energy consumption, you benefit from faster data transfers in critical applications, such as medical devices—increasing responsiveness and lowering latency.

With eight times the capacity for data transfer when broadcasting, Bluetooth 5 can transmit richer, more context-relevant data, propelling the next generation of connectionless services. In scenarios where contextual awareness is crucial—such as hassle-free airport navigation experiences, asset tracking of warehouse inventory, and smart city infrastructure that helps the visually impaired be more mobile—Bluetooth 5 sends information without connection barriers.

Bluetooth 5 is Creating New Markets

The continual evolution of the Bluetooth core specification has helped create entirely new global markets, including the wireless audio market, the connected device market, and the beacon market. Bluetooth 5 is the latest step in that evolution and, with the quick adoption of Bluetooth 5 in the latest smartphones, it’s easy to see the potential for new market success.

“The global wireless connectivity market is growing rapidly, with an anticipated 10 billion annual IC shipments by 2021,” said Andrew Zignani with ABI Research. “The introduction of Bluetooth 5 will create new opportunities in various verticals of the IoT market by reducing complexity and cost and giving manufacturers greater flexibility in targeting multiple applications and use cases.”

ABI projects that beacon and location-relevant information and navigation service markets will grow to more than 750 million units shipped annually by 2022. A beacon previously used in a retail environment could broadcast a coupon for a nearby product. Now, with Bluetooth 5, that beacon can broadcast the coupon, a URL to product information, the in-store location of the product, and the quantity in stock.

“Apple added the latest Bluetooth 5.0 standard, which is expected to become widely used in the next year for headphones and other peripherals,” said Samuel Gibbs from The Guardian.

The adoption of Bluetooth 5 by Samsung and Apple is a big step toward driving the creation of exciting new Bluetooth 5 peripheral devices. These new peripherals will take full advantage of Bluetooth 5’s range, bandwidth, and data transfer capabilities. Of course, Bluetooth 5 is backwards compatible with previous iterations of the core specification, ensuring your existing speakers, earbuds, wearables, etc. work with the new Bluetooth 5 smartphones.

Develop with Bluetooth 5

The quick adoption of Bluetooth 5 by companies like Apple and Samsung will play a significant role in fast tracking the development and release of a new and enhanced generation of Bluetooth enabled devices. Whether it’s whole-home coverage for smart home devices, fitness trackers that transfer cached data at lightening speeds, beacons that transmit eight times the amount of collected information, or something entirely new to the market, increased consumer demand for devices built with Bluetooth 5 is just around the corner.

“Consumers expect the latest and greatest devices to include the latest and greatest Bluetooth technology,” said Mark Powell, executive director of the Bluetooth SIG. “Bluetooth 5 found its way into its first smartphone faster than any of our previous technology releases with the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S8 in March. Now, less than a year after its initial release, Bluetooth 5 is available from the two most popular smartphone vendors on the planet. This is a reflection of developers recognizing the mass market appeal, ease of development, and unique value Bluetooth brings to the table, as well as consumers demanding our familiar and trusted brand.”

If you’re interested in integrating Bluetooth 5 into your next innovation, download the Bluetooth 5 core specification.

Jason Marcel

Jason Marcel

Jason is a Senior Marketing Copywriter with Bluetooth SIG who specializes in translating technical information into easy-to-read content. He enjoys sharing stories that show how people are using Bluetooth technology to shape our wireless way of life.

View all posts by Jason Marcel