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Bluetooth 5.0 vs 5.1- Detailed Comparison & Differences?


Bluetooth technology has become an essential part of our daily lives. From wireless headphones to smart home devices, Bluetooth allows us to connect our gadgets and appliances wirelessly. Two of the most widely used Bluetooth versions today are Bluetooth 5.0 and 5.1. Both offer significant improvements over previous Bluetooth versions in areas like speed, range, broadcasting capacity and connectivity.

In this comprehensive guide, we will compare Bluetooth 5.0 and 5.1 across various parameters to help you understand the key differences between these two versions. We will also look at the improvements offered by each version and examine use cases where one may be better suited over the other.

An Overview of Bluetooth 5.0 and Bluetooth 5.1

Released in 2016, Bluetooth 5.0 was the first major update to the Bluetooth standard since Bluetooth 4.2. It introduced key enhancements in three main areas:

Speed – Bluetooth 5.0 supports faster data transfer speeds of up to 2Mbps. This is two times faster than Bluetooth 4.2.
Range – With Bluetooth 5.0, the wireless range was increased up to 800ft or 240 meters. This was over 4 times greater than the 200ft range of Bluetooth 4.2.
Broadcasting capacity – Bluetooth 5.0 allows broadcasting to multiple devices simultaneously.

Bluetooth 5.1 was launched in January 2019 as a incremental update over 5.0. While it did not bring major changes, Bluetooth 5.1 offered some notable improvements:

Location services – Bluetooth 5.1 supports improved location tracking and navigation.
Data transfer – minor increase in maximum data transfer speeds to 2.5Mbps.
Reliability – Enhanced transmission and decoding for stronger reliability.
Audio sharing – New audio sharing feature allows broadcasting audio to multiple devices.

Bluetooth 5.0 vs 5.1: Detailed Comparison

Now let’s do a detailed feature-by-feature comparison between Bluetooth 5.0 and Bluetooth 5.1.

Speed and Data Transfer Rates

One of the major improvements of Bluetooth 5 over 4.2 was faster connection speeds. Bluetooth 5.0 nearly doubled the data transfer rates, taking it up to 2Mbps from 1Mbps in Bluetooth 4.2. This allowed activities like streaming audio and transferring files to be done faster.

Bluetooth 5.1 further built upon this by eking out a small speed boost to 2.5Mbps maximum. So while both versions offer big speed improvements over older Bluetooth versions, 5.1 inches ahead with data transfer rates of 2.5Mbps versus 2Mbps in Bluetooth 5.0.


Bluetooth 5.0 massively increased the functional range to up to 800ft or 240 meters – more than 4 times the 200ft range limit of Bluetooth 4.2. This allows connections to remain stable over greater distances.

Bluetooth 5.1 did not introduce any major improvements in terms of range. The maximum range remains 800ft as in Bluetooth 5.0. Both versions utilize the same transmission power levels and range enhancing technologies.

Broadcasting and Connectivity

One major new feature introduced in Bluetooth 5.0 was the ability to simultaneously broadcast to multiple devices. Earlier Bluetooth versions could only connect with one device at a time.

Bluetooth 5.0 enabled broadcasting audio or data to multiple devices at the same time. This opened new possibilities for use cases like audio sharing or location based marketing where information can be broadcast to many end points together.

Bluetooth 5.1 built upon this with the new Audio Sharing feature. This allows you to share audio from your device to multiple Bluetooth devices. For example, you can broadcast music or a video’s audio track to several Bluetooth speakers or headphones simultaneously.

Overall, both versions include significant enhancements in broadcasting capacity over older Bluetooth versions. 5.1 extends this with dedicated audio sharing support.


Bluetooth 5.0 did not make any major security changes compared to Bluetooth 4.2. It utilizes 128-bit AES encryption for securing connections and data transmission.

With Bluetooth 5.1, the security capabilities remain broadly similar to 5.0. The same AES 128-bit encryption is used. However, there are some minor improvements to security maintenance and key generation processes for better protection against breaches. But overall, security enhancements are minimal between the two versions.

Supported Profiles and Compatibility

Bluetooth profiles allow devices to establish use-case specific connections with each other. Both Bluetooth 5.0 and 5.1 support all major Bluetooth profiles used in audio devices, smart home gadgets, wearables and more. Some key profiles supported include:

A2DP for high quality wireless audio
AVRCP for controlling media playback
HFP for handsfree calling
MAP for accessing phonebooks
HID for connecting peripherals like mice and keyboards

Bluetooth 5.1 includes support for new Volume Control profile. This allows independent volume control of connected audio devices from the source. A minor addition, but useful in certain use cases like broadcasting music to multiple speakers.

In terms of compatibility, most Bluetooth 5.0 and 5.1 devices can work with products using older versions like 4.2 or even 2.1 + EDR. However, they will simply revert to the lower capabilities of the older device. To enjoy the full advantages of 5.0 or 5.1 both the connected products must use these versions.

Power Efficiency

Bluetooth 5 significantly improved power efficiency, especially for applications requiring low energy use. Features like Deep Packet Modulation on advertising channels help minimize transmission power consumption. Bluetooth 5.1 retains these power optimization capabilities.

For products requiring extended battery life like smart home sensors and fitness bands, both Bluetooth 5 versions provide big advantages over older versions. The long 800ft range also means devices can reduce transmission power while maintaining strong connections.

Between 5.0 and 5.1, power efficiency improvements are marginal. Both leverage the same underlying technologies for minimizing power usage.

Location Services and Tracking

Location services were a major addition in Bluetooth 5.1. It incorporates improved support for location based tracking and navigation use cases.

Technologies like the Angle of Arrival (AoA) and Angle of Departure (AoD) allow Bluetooth devices to more accurately pinpoint location and movement by analyzing signal strengths and angles of transmission. This has uses in navigation apps, asset tracking, proximity marketing and positioning services.

Bluetooth 5.0 does not include native support for these location services. With 5.0, additional protocols and technologies need to be integrated alongside for location tracking functionality.

Audio Quality

With both Bluetooth 5 versions, the maximum supported audio quality remains similar to Bluetooth 4.2 – up to 24-bit/48 kHz for an acceptable listening experience but not high-res quality.

The primary audio improvements stem from the higher data transfer rates in 5.0 and 5.1. This enables smoother streaming at the maximum supported quality, while reducing latency and audio glitches.

Bluetooth 5.1 includes dedicated features to enhance audio sharing to multiple listeners like the ability to broadcast at equal volume levels. But both versions lack major audio quality improvements compared to Bluetooth 4.2.

Use Cases and Applications

The faster speeds, longer range and broadcasting capabilities make both Bluetooth 5 versions well suited for:

Wireless audio products like headphones, earbuds, speakers
Smart home devices
Fitness trackers and smartwatches
Gaming accessories
IoT and sensor networks

Bluetooth 5.1 offers some added advantages for:

Truly wireless earbuds with separate left/right unit connections
Location and navigation devices
Spatial tracking applications
Broadcasting music across multiple speakers

Overall, both versions cover a wide variety of mainstream usage scenarios. Bluetooth 5.1 has some additional use cases suited for location tracking and multi-stream audio.

Bluetooth 5.0 vs 5.1: Which is Better?

Bluetooth 5.1 is a relatively minor update over 5.0. It edges ahead with slightly faster data rates of 2.5Mbps vs 2Mbps and adds more advanced location and audio sharing capabilities.

However, Bluetooth 5.0 also includes the major leaps over older versions – chiefly the 4x increased range, broadcasting support and faster speeds. Both 5.0 and 5.1 far outclass Bluetooth 4.2 and earlier.

For most everyday applications, Bluetooth 5.0 is still highly relevant and offers the core advantages of the 5 version. Moving to Bluetooth 5.1 brings only marginal improvements for common use cases.

Bluetooth 5.1 does provide meaningful benefits for specific applications like location tracking, truly wireless earbuds and multi-audio broadcasting scenarios. If those use cases are important, Bluetooth 5.1 has an edge.

But for general activity like wireless audio streaming, smart home gadgets and fitness tracking – Bluetooth 5.0 is competent enough even in 2023 and beyond. In many cases the device hardware and antennas will be a limiting factor, so just having 5.1 vs 5.0 will not guarantee improved performance.

Our recommendation is to look for Bluetooth 5.0 support at a minimum. This gets you the major enhancements over older Bluetooth versions. Upgrade to Bluetooth 5.1 if you specifically need its location and audio sharing capabilities, or simply want the latest available version.

Why Bluetooth 5.1 Surpasses Bluetooth 5.0

In conclusion, Bluetooth 5.1 provides several enhancements over Bluetooth 5.0, elevating the wireless experience. Upgrading to Bluetooth 5.1 brings:

Superior Audio Quality: Enjoy better audio clarity and quality.
Increased Range: Maintain robust and reliable connections, even when devices are farther apart.
Enhanced Connectivity: Experience fewer disruptions or dropouts in wireless connections, even in challenging indoor environments.
Reduced Latency: Minimize lag or latency between devices, providing a seamless and responsive wireless experience, especially when streaming media or playing games.
Improved Energy Efficiency: Lower power consumption and improve battery life for Bluetooth-enabled devices.
Accurate Device Detection: More precise and reliable identification of Bluetooth devices in range.

In summary, upgrading to Bluetooth 5.1 can provide you with superior audio quality, extended range, stronger connectivity, reduced lag, improved energy efficiency, and enhanced device detection. These advancements contribute to a superior wireless experience and make Bluetooth 5.1 a compelling choice for users seeking advanced Bluetooth technology.


Does Bluetooth 5.1 replace 5.0?

No, Bluetooth 5.1 complements rather than replaces 5.0. Most improvements in 5.1 are incremental over what 5.0 already offers. Bluetooth 5.0 remains a highly capable version for the majority of wireless connectivity applications.

Is Bluetooth 5 backwards compatible?

Yes, Bluetooth 5.0 and 5.1 maintain backwards compatibility with older Bluetooth versions. However, the maximum speeds, range and features will be limited to the lowest Bluetooth version between the two connected devices.

Does Bluetooth 5 work with Bluetooth 4.2?

Yes, Bluetooth 5.0/5.1 devices can pair and function with Bluetooth 4.2 products. But they will be limited to the 4.2 version capabilities when connected. To enjoy the faster speeds and longer range of Bluetooth 5, both connected devices need to use it.

Does Bluetooth 5.1 have better sound quality?

Not particularly. The maximum supported audio quality remains similar to Bluetooth 4.2, at 24-bit/48kHz. Audio quality enhancements in Bluetooth 5.1 are mainly focused on multi-stream broadcasting to multiple listeners. Between two devices, sound quality remains comparable to Bluetooth 5.0 and 4.2.

Is Bluetooth 5.1 worth upgrading to over 5.0?

Only if you specifically need features like improved location tracking or multi-stream audio sharing that are included in Bluetooth 5.1. For typical Bluetooth uses like wireless audio, smart home gadgets and fitness devices – Bluetooth 5.0 already delivers the core enhancements over older versions and remains highly capable. Upgrading to 5.1 provides only marginal improvements in most cases.

The Bottom Line

While Bluetooth 5.1 brings useful updates like faster data rates and location services, Bluetooth 5.0 already did the heavy lifting in boosting the capabilities of Bluetooth technology. It increased speeds, range, broadcasting capacity and power efficiency which are substantial leaps over previous versions.

For mainstream applications, Bluetooth 5.0 remains highly relevant and capable in 2023 as well. Moving to Bluetooth 5.1 provides only incremental improvements for most use cases. Upgrade to Bluetooth 5.1 for its specific advantages in multi-audio and location tracking functionality. But for general activity, Bluetooth 5.0 still gets the job done very well.

When getting a new device or gadget, look for at least Bluetooth 5.0 support to enjoy the best wireless connectivity experience. Go for Bluetooth 5.1 if you want the absolute latest version or need its niche feature additions.