What Is the Difference Between Wifi and Bluetooth Technology?

Bluetooth and Wi-Fi differ primarily in speed, range and intended application. Bluetooth is used to connect devices to each other, and Wi-Fi is used to connect devices to networks.

Many devices have Bluetooth technology built in, and very little configuration is needed to get them to connect. Bluetooth is commonly used to wirelessly connect peripherals, such as keyboards, mice and printers, to laptops or tablets. Bluetooth can also be used to transfer data, such as pictures, from a smartphone, or to connect a wireless headset to a computer for making voice calls. Compared to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth connections are slower and their range is much shorter.

Unlike Bluetooth, in which devices connect directly to each other, Wi-Fi technology connects wireless devices to a network through an access point. Once joined to the network, Wi-Fi enabled devices can share files and printers as if they were connected through a cable. Wi-Fi is often used to connect to the Internet. Many locations, such as coffee shops and libraries, offer free Wi-Fi access for this purpose.

The speed, range and security requirements of Wi-Fi is much greater than that of Bluetooth. Configuration of both the access point and the wireless device is needed before a successful connection can be made.