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Is Bluetooth Faster than Wi-Fi?

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If your devices have both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capability built in, then which one is actually faster? Today’s SuperUser Q&A post has the answer to a curious reader’s question.

Today’s Question & Answer session comes to us courtesy of SuperUser—a subdivision of Stack Exchange, a community-driven grouping of Q&A web sites.

The Question

SuperUser reader jt0dd wants to know if Bluetooth is faster than Wi-Fi:

I notice that on my iPhone, when I use my personal hot-spot to distribute Wi-Fi and I have Bluetooth enabled, the phone will make a Bluetooth connection to my laptop instead of a Wi-Fi connection.

So I am wondering…is Bluetooth faster than Wi-Fi?

Which one is faster?

The Answer

SuperUser contributor Mokubai has the answer for us:

The Bluetooth standard’s maximum data rate is, at best, 3 Mbps or about 2.1 after protocol overheads take their cut.

Wi-Fi on the other hand, maxes out anywhere from 54 to 1300+ Mbps depending on whether you have “g”, “n”, or “ac” Wi-Fi plus any enhancements in the adaptors and router support.

So no, Bluetooth is not faster than Wi-Fi. Not even vaguely close.

Bluetooth version 3 and version 4 have higher data rates, but the actual data transfer in those implementations happens over Wi-Fi; Bluetooth is only used to set up and negotiate the connection.


Have something to add to the explanation? Sound off in the comments. Want to read more answers from other tech-savvy Stack Exchange users? Check out the full discussion thread here.

Akemi Iwaya (Asian Angel) is our very own Firefox Fangirl who enjoys working with multiple browsers and loves 'old school' role-playing games. Visit her on Twitter and .

  • Published 06/19/14