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Comparison of Bluetooth BR/EDR and BLE Specifications

Bluetooth® technology [1], operating on the 2.4 GHz unlicensed industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) frequency band, uses low-power radio frequency to enable short-range communication at a low cost. The two variants of the Bluetooth technology are –

  • Bluetooth basic rate/enhanced data rate (BR/EDR) or classic Bluetooth

  • Bluetooth low energy (BLE) or Bluetooth Smart

The Bluetooth Core Specification [2], specified by the Special Interest Group (SIG) consortium, defines the technologies required to create interoperable Bluetooth BR/EDR and BLE devices.

Bluetooth BR/EDR radio is primarily designed for low power, high data throughput operations. In Bluetooth BR/EDR, the radio hops in a pseudo-random way on 79 designated Bluetooth channels. Each Bluetooth BR/EDR channel has a bandwidth of 1 MHz. Each frequency is located at (2402 + k) MHz, where k = 0,1, …, 78.

In 2010, the SIG introduced BLE with the Bluetooth 4.0 version. The BLE radio is designed and optimized to support applications and use cases that have a relatively low duty cycle. For example, suppose a person wears a heart rate monitoring device for several hours. Because this device transmits only a few bytes of data every second, its radio is in the 'on' state for a very short period of time. In BLE, the operating radio frequency is in the range from 2.4000 GHz to 2.4835 GHz. The channel bandwidth is 2 MHz, and the operating band is divided into 40 channels, (k = 0, 1, …, 39). The center frequency of the kth channel is located at (2402 + k × 2) MHz.

This table summarizes and compares different features of Bluetooth BR/EDR and BLE.

FeatureBluetooth BR/EDRBLE
Frequency bandOperates on a 2.4 GHz Industrial, Scientific, and Medical (ISM) band, with the values in the range from 2.4000 GHz to 2.4835 GHzOperates on 2.4 GHz ISM band, with the values in the range from 2.4000 GHz to 2.4835 GHz
Channels79 channels

40 channels (37 data channels and 3 advertising channels)

Channel bandwidth1 MHz2 MHz
Spread spectrum technique1600 hops/sec frequency-hopping spread spectrum (FHSS)FHSS
Modulation scheme
  • Gaussian frequency shift keying (GFSK)

  • π/4 differential quadrature phase shift keying (DQPSK)

  • 8 differential phase shift keying (DPSK)

GFSK

Power usage1 W (reference value)~0.01x W to 0.5x W of reference (depending on the use case scenario)
Maximum transmission power
  • Class 1: 100 mW (20 dBm)

  • Class 2: 2.5 mW (4 dBm)

  • Class 3: 1 mW (0 dBm)

  • Class 1: 100 mW (20 dBm)

  • Class 1.5: 10 mW (10 dBm)

  • Class 2: 2.5 mW (4 dBm)

  • Class 3: 1 mW (0 dBm)

Data rate
  • BR PHY (GFSK): 1 Mb/s

  • EDR PHY (π/4 DQPSK): 2 Mb/s

  • EDR PHY (8 DPSK): 3 Mb/s

  • LE Coded PHY (S = 8): 125 Kb/s

  • LE Coded PHY (S = 2): 500 Kb/s

  • LE 1M PHY: 1 Mb/s

  • LE 2M PHY: 2 Mb/s

Device discoveryInquiry or pagingAdvertising
Device address privacyNonePrivate device addressing supported
Encryption algorithmE0/SAFER+AES-CCM
Audio capableYesYes (BLE audio is introduced in Bluetooth Core Specification 5.2)
Network topologyPoint-to-point (including piconet)
  • Point-to-point (including piconet)

  • Broadcast

  • Mesh

This table summarizes prominent applications of Bluetooth BR/EDR and BLE.

ApplicationBluetooth BR/EDRBLE

Audio streaming applications such as:

  • Bluetooth headphones or earbuds

  • Bluetooth speakers

  • Bluetooth watches

SupportedSupported

Location and direction finding applications such as:

  • Asset tracking

  • Indoor navigation services

  • Beacon-based services

Not supportedSupported

Data transmission applications such as:

  • Medical and health equipments

  • Sports and fitness equipments

  • Peripherals and accessories

Not supportedSupported

Device network applications such as:

  • Monitoring systems and services

  • Automation systems

  • Control systems

Not supportedSupported

References

[1] Bluetooth Technology Website. “Bluetooth Technology Website | The Official Website of Bluetooth Technology.” Accessed September 14, 2020. https://www.bluetooth.com/.

[2] Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG). "Bluetooth Core Specification." Version 5.2. https://www.bluetooth.com/.

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