What is Bluetooth?

Lynn Wright / 17 March 2016 ( 21 June 2018 )

Make wirelessly connecting to your devices easy with our guide to using Bluetooth.

Fed up fighting a spaghetti-like tangle of cables strung between your devices, or having to hunt down a specific cable to connect one device to another? 

Bluetooth can banish cables when connecting digital devices, providing easy and instant connections between mobile phones, audio equipment, TVs and computers.

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What is Bluetooth?

Bluetooth is a wireless technology that easily connects together devices over short distances of up to 10m. 

Invented 20 years ago, Bluetooth uses low-power radio waves to transfer data between devices – such as photos between a mobile phone and a computer – without stringing a cable between the two devices. 

Most modern digital devices include Bluetooth as standard.

What devices use Bluetooth?

Bluetooth is used by computers, laptops, tablets, printers, digital cameras, TVs, speakers, car music systems and smartphones. 

After an initial set-up – called ‘pairing’ – Bluetooth connects devices automatically when they’re in range of each other. For example, the Apple Watch connects via Bluetooth to the Apple iPhone, allowing the watch to display information such as text messages and email received by the iPhone.

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Should I use Bluetooth?

If you’ve lots of digital devices, Bluetooth lets you get the best from them. For example, you can connect your smartphone via Bluetooth to a TV soundbar and play music from your phone.

You may be using Bluetooth already. For example, if you’ve a hands-free kit in your car, it uses Bluetooth to wirelessly send and receive sound to and from your mobile phone to the ear piece.

It is also used to wirelessly control devices, such as computer mice and keyboards, which use Bluetooth to connect to a computer.

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How do I use Bluetooth?

While setting up Bluetooth differs between devices, you’ll need to initially pair one device with another. 

Typically, this means:

  • Turn on Bluetooth – on an iPhone, for example, tap Settings > Bluetooth and toggle Bluetooth on. On other devices, you might simply have to push a button on the device itself to start the pairing process.

  • Scan for Bluetooth devices – from the list of Bluetooth devices, choose the device you’d like to connect to.

  • Enter Bluetooth code – some devices may show a code that you’ll need to enter on the other device, such as a PC, to confirm the connection.

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Is Bluetooth safe to use?

Only connect to Bluetooth devices you own and use, and turn off Bluetooth when out and about, and not in use. 

As Bluetooth can be used to transmit data and files, ensure any Bluetooth connection you use to transmit data is one you trust. If in doubt, use another method.

Most Bluetooth connections are limited to a single role, such as transmitting audio from one device to a set of wireless speakers, which limits any potential dangers.

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What’s the future of Bluetooth?

Early versions of Bluetooth drained battery power and were fiddly to set up. The latest versions of Bluetooth use less power and are simpler to set-up, making wireless connections between your devices at home simple and faster.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.