Bluetooth 4 vs Bluetooth 5 Range

Mohammad Afaneh has unearthed (LinkedIn) a paper by researchers at Centre for Wireless Communications, University of Oulu Finland and Centre for Wireless Communications, University of Oulu, Finland on Experimental Performance Evaluation of BLE 4 vs BLE 5 in Indoors and Outdoors Scenarios.

Bluetooth 5 promises x4 improvement in range over Bluetooth 4. The researchers set up indoor and outdoor experiments to determine the real-life performance. Tests used the Nordic Semiconductor nRF52840 SoC.

The results showed a x2 improvement in line-of-sight range outdoors and up to 20% improvement in non line-of-sight indoors. For example, for Bluetooth 4, with 0 dBm transmit power, the maximum range was 220m. For Bluetooth 5, with 0 dBm transmit power, the communications range was found to be 490m. A x4 range improvement was not achieved in most scenarios and the only situation where this was achieved was when using Bluetooth 5 coded mode with increased (9dBm) transmit power.

It’s still the case that very few beacons support the Bluetooth 5 features. This is mainly because there are very few smartphones with which they can be used. Another observation is that the +9dBm used in the above tests isn’t practical for most battery-based solutions and instead it’s more normal to run at 0dBm or less power. The range also depends on the sending and receiving hardware and antennas. In the extreme case, we have seen a non-battery powered Bluetooth 4 device achieve 4Km line-of-sight range.

The paper also tests the throughput which we haven’t mentioned in this post. Throughput implies GATT connection which isn’t relevant in the context of using beacons.

The PDF paper is also available at