The main difference between a Bluetooth and a Wi-Fi network is the purpose of their use. Bluetooth is used to share files and data between the devices, while Wi-Fi is used mainly to access the internet or get connected to a network offline.
Bluetooth is used to create Personal Area Network (PAN), while Wi-Fi is used to get connected to the internet. Alternatively, Wi-Fi can also be used to create a personal network so as to play multiplayer games in a room. Moreover, Bluetooth demands a Bluetooth adaptor, while Wi-Fi demands a wireless adaptor to achieve a network connection.
Bluetooth is commonly found in most electronic gadgets nowadays, such as tablets, cars, PCs, etc. Wi-Fi, on the other hand, is common, but its availability scale is relatively less than Bluetooth.
What is Bluetooth?
Bluetooth is a network that is meant for short-distance communication. The communication may be between two or more devices or multiple devices connecting to one device. For instance, you might connect several devices with your PC using a Bluetooth network.
Bluetooth is most commonly used for wireless music streaming, such as wireless earphones and music systems in automobiles. The cost of installing a Bluetooth feature in the gadgets is low, which is why Bluetooth is preferred for short-range communication.
Bluetooth is truly wireless and doesn't demand even a single wire or cable to establish a network. It also works like a charm irrespective of weather but may be interrupted by magnetic or other strong outer interference.
What is Wi-Fi?
Wi-Fi means Wireless Fidelity, which is meant to connect multiple devices to the internet wirelessly. It's used to spread the wireless signals around a limited range, much higher than Bluetooth, to spread the internet accessibility in the coverage area. The network speed is really high, thanks to radio waves used in the wireless routers.
There are two devices required to achieve Wi-Fi network success. A Wi-Fi router, which will output the wireless signals, and a wireless adaptor to catch these signals. Wi-Fi connectivity mustn't be restricted to just internet access only.
The term Wi-Fi can also be related to wireless connectivity, such as in wireless mice and keyboards, wireless or radio-controlled toy cars and other toys, etc.
Differences Between Bluetooth & Wi-Fi
Number Of Connections
The standards followed by Bluetooth state that up to 7 Bluetooth devices can connect to a network. This means that if you're trying to connect 6 Bluetooth devices to your PC, it's quite possible. However, that's just a theory, and the researchers have concluded that no more than 3-4 devices can remain connected in a Bluetooth network at once in practical.
Wi-Fi allows connecting up to 250 devices at once, but again that's just a theoretical limit. In practice, some Wi-Fi routers allow only 32 wireless devices to be connected to a Wi-Fi router at once. Some manufacturers might impose a threshold to protect the routers from damage due to overload.
Expect network connectivity in a Bluetooth network for up to 10 meters. Each new Bluetooth version is released with a better, extended, and long range. On the contrary, Wi-Fi has a range of up to 100 meters. The network strength diminishes as we move away from the signal source. Thus, a repeater is used to extend a Wi-Fi network range, which amplifies the existing Wi-Fi signals and forwards them to farther distances, allowing a coverage area to reach several hundred meters before reaching its limit.
Data Transmission Speed
Expect around 2Mbps data transfer speed in Bluetooth networks, but in reality, it's just a few kbps. Similarly, expect up to 600 Mbps data transfer speed in Wi-Fi, but the actual speed is subject to the internet plan you bought from your ISP (internet service provider). Moreover, there are several factors that can reduce the data transfer speed drastically, hence reducing the efficiency and increasing the latency in the network.
A Bluetooth adaptor is needed to make devices Bluetooth-enabled. Bluetooth adaptors can send/receive the data to facilitate communication. Wi-Fi networks demand a wired connection from the main internet box set up by the ISP to the Wi-Fi router. Then a Wi-Fi router is needed to enable wireless network setup. Furthermore, a wireless adaptor or a Wi-Fi card is needed in the devices to allow them to communicate with the Wi-Fi router.
Expect a high power consumption in a Wi-Fi network than in a Bluetooth network. But still, both the networks consume negligible power, which won't make much difference in the electricity bills.
Comparison Chart: Bluetooth Vs Wi-Fi
|Frequency||2.4GHz||2.4GHz, 3.6GHz, and 5GHz|
|Configuration Difficulty||Easy to configure||Extremely difficult to configure. Demands telecom expert by the ISP to configure the network properly.|
|Security||Less secure||Highly secure|
|Adaptor||Bluetooth adaptor||Wi-Fi adaptor or Wi-Fi card|
Similitudes Between Bluetooth & Wi-Fi
Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are intended to achieve a wireless network. Moreover, they can be used to transfer data offline (without the internet).
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Bluetooth and Wi-Fi heat up my device?
Ideally, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi adaptors do generate negligible heat. They won't heat up your device overall. Moreover, heat received from an overheating CPU may not affect these adaptors either.
Can I use Bluetooth without an internet connection?
Yes, Bluetooth has nothing to do with an active internet connection, and users can perfectly transfer data between the devices without bothering about internet connectivity.
Should I use Bluetooth or Wi-Fi for IoT?
Bluetooth being less secure and slow makes Wi-Fi an ideal choice for IoT projects. Other reasons why Wi-Fi is suited for IoT are extended range, strong signal strength, and the need for IoT devices to remain connected to the internet to send statistics and receive signals. Since Bluetooth can't connect an IoT device to the internet, Wi-Fi remains the only possible choice.
In the end, the article clearly defines the proper differences between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi networks. Both the networks are designed and meant for different purposes. Therefore, considering Bluetooth better than Wi-Fi and vice versa would be inappropriate.