The technology that lets you connect your wireless earbuds, speakers and smartphone to each other has been around for years. But it continues to improve and evolve – the latest version, Bluetooth 5.1, has been added to some of the 2021 and 2022 wireless earbuds like the Sony WF-1000XM4 and Samsung Galaxy Buds 2, as well as some of the latest smartphones like the Motorola Z2 Play and Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro.
So which features does bluetooth 5.1 add to existing bluetooth technology? We've rounded up the top improvements below.
LC3 is a new codec that enables Bluetooth Low Energy devices to transmit stereo audio streams using the same bandwidth as a standard Bluetooth connection, without consuming as much power. This is a big deal because it allows Bluetooth headphones to be more efficient and reduces battery consumption on phones.
GATT caching enhancements and advertising sync transfer are two other Bluetooth 5.1 features that might not make your ears or smartphone feel any different but could help save you some battery power. These features allow Bluetooth 5.1 devices to cache the GATT tables of generic attribute handles when they're connected to each other, expediting future connections with those same devices and saving on battery.
The most exciting feature in Bluetooth 5.1 is the addition of device direction capability. This means that your phone can pinpoint the location of a Bluetooth speaker or earbuds by telling you their exact physical location. This could be really useful for finding your missing earbuds or smart home appliances, for example, and might also help with Bluetooth proximity solutions like indoor positioning.