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What is The Difference Between Wifi & Bluetooth?

A close look at a mobile phone trying to pair with the car's system.

If you regularly use your laptop, smartphone, desktop, or any other modern device (and, who doesn’t these days?) then you’ve likely seen the symbols for Bluetooth and WiFi countless times.

While both may seem simple to comprehend, they’re actually quite complex and have a few key differences that we think are important to explore. This will allow you to know whether you can use Bluetooth without having access to WiFi or not.

Despite both being wireless means for connectivity, WiFi and Bluetooth are two very different technologies. WiFi connects devices to the internet and Bluetooth connects different devices to each other. Let’s define them first for further understanding:

WiFi Explained

WiFi wirelessly connects your devices to the internet and to use it and connect to the local area network on a router, you have to type in a WiFi password on your device. In short, it enables you to surf the web with no need for a cable outlet or phone line.

A router gives you an internet signal from your modem and turns it into a radio signal so your WiFi-enabled device can get the radio signal and turn it back into an internet signal thus, allowing wireless internet connectivity.

A look at a portable wifi hotspot device on a laptop.

Most everyday technology now has WiFi receivers and for you to know, all you have to do is check for the WiFi symbol on the device or in stores and establishments.

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The strength of the signal is dependent on the router quality but you can normally connect from up to 300 feet away. WiFi can also connect two different devices wirelessly for file transfer if they’re connected on the same LAN.

Portable WiFi Routers

TP-Link N300 Wireless Portable Nano Travel Router - WiFi Bridge/Range Extender/Access Point/Client Modes, Mobile in Pocket(TL-WR802N)

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Similar to what you use to connect to the internet at home, a portable router allows you to surf the web from your favorite devices. Unlike your home router, though, portable routers use SIM cards instead of an attached phone cable.

Oftentimes, people will look for unlocked portable WiFi routers, which means they are allowed to use any SIM card, no matter where they are. One of the major benefits to this is that you’ll always be able to get the lowest rates on your internet as you will be able to use a worldwide data SIM card or local SIM card inside the router.

Portable WiFi routers also allow you to set up a private internet connection from, essentially, anywhere in the globe. You can do this on up to 10 devices at the same time, including:

How Easy Are Portable WiFi Routers to Use

Google Fi SIM Card Kit

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Portable routers are extremely simple to use and accessible. All you need to do is charge the device, place a SIM card inside it, and turn the device on. Within a few seconds, you can be browsing the internet on all of your favorite devices at the same exact time.

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Keep in mind, some computers and smartphones are only compatible with locked portable routers and hotspots. This means you’ll only be able to use a specific company’s SIM card inside the device itself.

Unfortunately, this can make using the router when traveling a bit pricey. This is why we recommend getting an unlocked portable WiFi router if you can, as you’ll be able to use any SIM card you’d like inside it.

In this case, if you need to swap out SIM cards to be able to get a lower rate on your internet when traveling or visiting another country, you can do so.

Bluetooth Explained

A close look at a bluetooth speaker on a wooden coffee table.

Bluetooth is for short-distance data transfer between devices and typical examples include wireless keyboards and speakers that use Bluetooth. It also utilizes radio signals to transfer data between devices and because of its similarity in frequency to WiFi, it can cause interference with the two signals.

Bluetooth devices don’t usually need a password for connection but can be done by pressing a button on the device like headphones and selection of the chosen device on the other device like a computer.

Bluetooth is not as secure as WiFi and can also be slower with a limited connectivity range up to 30 feet. It was invented for wireless connection of devices and it can be found on almost every device today like computer hardware and phone accessories; just check for the Bluetooth logo.

Bluetooth Devices

In addition to your smartphone and computer, there are a few additional devices you may not know use Bluetooth as well. These include:

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Devices in Vehicles & Homes

Laview Home Security Camera HD 1080P(2 Pack) AI Human Detection,Include 2 SD Cards,32GB Two-Way Audio,Night Vision,WiFi Indoor Surveillance for Baby/pet,Alexa and Google,Cloud Service (US Server)

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In-home devices that are Bluetooth-enabled allow people to wirelessly control their home security systems, lighting, kitchen appliances, and thermostats all from one singular location.

Fellow Stagg EKG, Electric Pour-over Kettle For Coffee And Tea, Matte Black, Variable Temperature Control, 1200 Watt Quick Heating, Built-in Brew Stopwatch

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Honeywell Home RCHT8610WF2006/W T5 Round Wi-Fi Thermostat, Black

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Additionally, Bluetooth is often used inside universal remote controllers to control home theater and entertainment systems without needing wires. You can cast music and videos from your smartphone or tablet, as well, to your portable speakers, laptop/desktop, or smart TV using Bluetooth.

Updated SofaBaton U1 Universal Remote with OLED Display and Smartphone APP, All in One Universal Remote Control for up to 15 Entertainment Devices, Compatible with Smart TVs/DVD/STB/Projector so on

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Another Bluetooth application, that has been growing in popularity over the last decade, is Bluetooth-enabled vehicles. This allows you to connect directly into your vehicle’s electronic panel to be able to play music from your phone, answer and talk on your phone (hands-free) and use a GPS device to find where you’re going.

Medical Equipment

A doctor inspecting the wireless glucose monitoring device.

Bluetooth is relied upon in medical and hospital settings to allow doctors and nurses to automatically log medical information taken from various medical devices, such as:

  • Pacemakers
  • Blood glucose monitors
  • Stethoscopes

This can help save both patients and health care provider valuable time, and makes medical equipment more accessible to more people.

Outside of a medical setting, Bluetooth-enabled fitness equipment is used regularly to help people track their heart-rates and follow their exercise regimens. People who walk regularly to burn calories use Bluetooth-enabled devices, such as smartwatches or fitness trackers, to let them know how many steps they’ve taken throughout the day.

Will Bluetooth Work Without a WiFi Connection?

Bluetooth can transfer data between two different devices even without WiFi but some devices need WiFi to work well so not all devices with Bluetooth will function.

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For instance, you may need to have WiFi to transfer a document over a LAN from a computer to a printer but a Bluetooth printer may not require WiFi.