Bluetooth Classic vs Bluetooth LE

Beacons use Bluetooth Low Energy (LE). Some people confuse this with ‘Bluetooth Classic’ so here’s concise explanation.

Bluetooth Classic or, more technically, Basic Rate/Enhanced Data Rate (BR/EDR) is an older Bluetooth standard announced in 1998. Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) was introduced in 2010, as part of the Bluetooth 4.0 specification. It came out of Nokia’s previous Wibree technology.

Although Bluetooth Classic is older, it is not obsolete and is instead used for different types of applications such as streaming audio and video. Bluetooth Classic is used when transferring files by Bluetooth between devices, such as photos, videos, and documents. It’s also commonly used for hands-free calling in vehicles. Bluetooth Classic is also used in medical devices such as glucose meters, blood pressure monitors, and heart rate monitors to transmit data to smartphones or other devices. Bluetooth Basic Rate/Enhanced Data Rate (BR/EDR) requires pairing, the process of establishing a secure wireless connection between the two Bluetooth-enabled devices.

Bluetooth LE is designed for applications that require lower power consumption and low data transfer rates such as fitness trackers, smartwatches, beacons and other IoT devices. It uses a different protocol for data transmission which allows it to achieve higher throughput using smaller packet sizes. Bluetooth LE does not need pairing.

Both Bluetooth Classic and Bluetooth LE use the 2.4GHz unlicensed frequency band which is part the industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) frequency band. Bluetooth Classic and Bluetooth LE differ in how they use the frequency and can coexist together.