When Would You Have BOTH Bluetooth Classic and Low Energy? | Symmetry Blog
Bluetooth Classic? Bluetooth Low Energy? When designing your application, it’s just one or the other, right? Not exactly…
Over the last 20 years, Bluetooth has undergone multiple revisions and along the way led a sweeping change to how devices interact with each other. Although Bluetooth has been a staple in wireless connectivity since version 1.0 was released, version 4.0 gave us Bluetooth Low Energy and made the technology viable for small IoT applications.
Although Bluetooth Low Energy, or BLE, is the most recent rendition of Bluetooth technology, older versions of Bluetooth, known as Bluetooth Classic, are still commonly used today for applications that need a constant stream of data at a high throughput. Examples include wireless speakers and headphone, which require a steady stream of high-quality data at high speeds to ensure optimal audio quality.
BLE, on the other hand, is meant for applications that only need to send small bits of information in short bursts, in order to limit the amount of power used – hence the use of the words, “low energy.” Examples of BLE applications include low powered sensors that operate on a coin cell battery and does not transmit much more than small amounts of simple data.
So, if Bluetooth Classic and Bluetooth Low Energy are flip sides of a coin, are engineers left with choosing one over the other? Not quite.
Example: Smart Phones Use Both Bluetooth Classic and BLE.
If you have a modern smartphone in your pocket, it is likely equipped with both Bluetooth Classic and Bluetooth Low Energy. Because of the differences between the two, each one has its purpose.
Bluetooth Classic receives the most attention on your phone, as it allows connectivity with wireless headphones, wireless speakers, and Bluetooth enabled automobiles. When this stream is left on, you may notice the phone battery draining at a quicker rate than usual, reflecting what we know about Bluetooth Classic and its heavy energy requirements.
For less data-intensive tasks, Bluetooth Low Energy takes over, connecting the phone to devices that use smaller sensors (e.g., fitness trackers that measure your heart rate, temperature, and movement). These devices can be left on over a longer period without significantly draining your phone battery.
It’s not always Black and White
Not all applications would benefit from having both Bluetooth Classic and Bluetooth Low Energy. However, if your product requires additional flexibility and the reasons are justified, installing both Bluetooth Classic and BLE is always an option.
Written by Symmetry Electronics Application Engineer
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