Here’s what Bluetooth 5 means for your wire-free future

The ubiquitous Bluetooth wireless standard has graduated to its fifth iteration, aptly called Bluetooth 5. 

“So what?”, you might be asking. Good question. Bluetooth 5 will arrive in new devices within the next few months, providing a stronger, faster and more data-packed connection to your devices than Bluetooth 4.2 currently does. 

Digging into the numbers, it can deliver a signal across a range that’s four times greater than we Bluetooth 4.2. In addition, it will be twice as fast and, with that extra speed, the bandwidth can accommodate eight times the amount of data. 

For those with wearables that utilize Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), you’ll see some improvement in Bluetooth 5 as well. Bandwidth potential is doubling, and you’ll theoretically be able to roam about four times further away from your phone.

Bluetooth 5 (An IoT joint)

While any bit of improvement is appreciated, the real focus of Bluetooth 5 appears to be on growing the adoption rate for products in the Internet of Things (IoT) category. This includes products like smart thermometers, connected cameras, and even weight scales.

Arguably, the most alluring thing about IoT is that you can pack your living space with a family of devices that can communicate with each other. Your very own smart home, so to speak.

But as it turns out, putting loads of devices under the same roof causes the speed and efficiency of wireless protocols, be it Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, to tank. Bluetooth 5 works to partially remedy this modern pain by taking the load off of the crowded 2.4GHz band and distributing data across up to 37 neighboring channels if the need arises.

Improving our 3.5mm-less future

Bluetooth continues to be a killer feature for those who want to cut the cord, and the best part of its latest version is that it looks to limit the amount of punishment we sometimes encounter for being the ambitious ones. 

This is of the utmost importance as more smartphone makers are opting to not build phones with the 3.5mm headphones jack. So far, this includes the iPhone 7, Moto Z, and if the rumors are correct, the Samsung Galaxy S8. The list will only grow from there. 

If we’re really moving into a 3.5mm-less future, Bluetooth 5 seems to be well-equipped (at least, it better be) to pave the way for improved audio codes that will make the sacrifice worth it in the end.

Cameron Faulkner

Cameron is a writer at The Verge, focused on reviews, deals coverage, and news. He wrote for magazines and websites such as The Verge, TechRadar, Practical Photoshop, Polygon, Eater and Al Bawaba.