The Raspberry Pi is an amazing piece of technology that has all the powers and abilities of a computer while being able to fit in the palm of your hand.
It allows you to access all its amazing capabilities and functions and create amazing projects without needing to have a fancy engineering or computing degree.
Like all technology, the raspberry pi has evolved over the years from its humble beginnings. While in its early days it might have been limited to a certain amount of functions, with the advancement of technology it now is capable of so much more.
One of the latest most recent versions is the Raspberry Pi 4.
But, does a Raspberry Pi 4 have bluetooth? Yes, the raspberry pi 4 comes with bluetooth which allows you to exchange data wirelessly to other bluetooth capable devices.
The bluetooth of the Raspberry Pi 4
Before proceeding, we need to make a clarification. The actual name for the raspberry pi 4 is Raspberry Pi 4 Model B.
However, henceforth we shall just refer to it as the raspberry pi 4.
The raspberry pi 4 comes packed with many hardware and features which include;
- USB ports
- Ethernet ports
- Camera port
- Display port
- Audio output
- GPIO headers
The other major feature that it has is Bluetooth.
Before bluetooth you would need wires to connect devices together in order to be able to transfer data from one device to another.
Then along came Bluetooth which revolutionised data transfer. It allows data to be transferred between bluetooth capable devices wirelessly.
This meant you weren’t left anchored to a device.
Transferring data wirelessly allowed for a wide range of possibilities which includes wirelessly transmitting audio and video as well.
What type of bluetooth does the raspberry pi 4 have?
Just like there are many companies that produce smartphones, so too are there many different companies that manufacture bluetooth modules (or chipsets).
Bluetooth chipsets have their own features which will vary from one manufacturer to the next. Features that include;
- Mode (single mode, dual mode, bluetooth low energy, etc)
- Integrated processor
- Current consumption
- Average current
So, companies like Raspberry Pi have an option to choose from different manufacturers and select a bluetooth chipset that best suits their needs.
The manufacturers are;
- Texas Instruments
- Nordic Semiconductor
- Dialog Semiconductor
- Cypress Semiconductor
- Cambridge Silicon Radio
The engineers and designers at raspberry pi have opted for using the bluetooth chipset from Cypress Semiconductor which is known as the Cypress CYW43455.
Different versions of bluetooth
Bluetooth uses radio waves to send information from one device to the next and just like the raspberry pi, it has evolved over the years.
Let’s take a quick look at the different versions of bluetooth.
The first ever iteration was Bluetooth BR/EDR (Basic Rate / Enhanced Data Rate). This was essentially Bluetooth 2.1.
Note, the first version of bluetooth was 2.0, however the differences between 2.1 and 2.0 weren’t that major as the speeds and capabilities remained the same.
The only major difference was a reduced number of steps it took to pair devices.
So, bluetooth 2.1 offered easier connectivity and better security.
Next came Bluetooth 3.0 also commonly referred to as Bluetooth Highspeed.
While bluetooth 2.1 was limited to 3Mbps, version 3.0 allowed for data transfer speeds up to 24Mbps (8 times faster!).
This version utilised an existing Wi-Fi infrastructure which was how it was able to achieve such high speeds.
2010 saw the release of Bluetooth 4.0.
Unfortunately, version 3.0 wasn’t very popular as it had a large current draw. This meant the battery life of the devices using it suffered.
Due to this, bluetooth 4.0 took a whole new direction and was essentially a reset.
This new version included a new bluetooth low energy mode (BLE) which was marketed as Bluetooth Smart.
This meant that bluetooth could now be used on smaller devices that use less power (like the ones that used coin cell batteries).
The final version which landed on shores in the year 2016 was Bluetooth 5.0.
There are many changes to this version (which we won’t dive into), but the overall outcome sees an increase in speed, range and bandwidth.
Bluetooth 5.0 has a neat feature for low energy devices.
Rather than limiting bluetooth low energy to 1MBps (which it did for its previous version), bluetooth 5.0 allows it to be split into 4 speed tiers; 2Mbps, 1Mbps, 500Kbps, and 125Kbps.
This feature allows low range devices to achieve greater bandwidth, whereas larger devices that don’t require large amounts of data can opt for speed over range.
What version of bluetooth does the raspberry pi 4 have?
The raspberry pi 4 has a bluetooth module which is the latest version being Bluetooth 5.0.
This is great news as you get all the upgraded features of the latest version which includes faster speeds, range and bandwidth.
Also, having bluetooth 5.0 gives the raspberry pi 4 the ability to connect to a wide range of bluetooth devices that range from low power such as wireless earphones, to large sensors used in home automation.
Bluetooth devices a raspberry pi 4 can connect to
Having bluetooth opens up a new door to a wide range of new possibilities for projects, as there are many other bluetooth devices it can connect to.
With the new low power capabilities, many devices opt for data transfer via bluetooth.
Below is a list of some of the bluetooth devices a raspberry pi 4 can connect with:
- NeoPixels (light modules)
- Heart Rate monitors
- Bluetooth Adapters
- Headphones / Earphones
This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, but one just to give you a jist of what is available.
Can a raspberry pi 4 connect to a device with a lower version of bluetooth?
So if the raspberry pi 4 has bluetooth version 5, does that mean it is restricted to connecting to devices that only have the same version?
No, Bluetooth 5 is backward compatible.
This means that even though the raspberry pi 4 has the latest version of bluetooth, it will be able to connect to devices which have previous versions.
Great news for us as you won’t be restricted to what device you can connect to.
Setting up bluetooth on the raspberry pi 4
Now that we know the raspberry pi 4 has bluetooth, the next major hurdle will be setting it up.
Unfortunately for us, the raspberry pi 4 does not come with the bluetooth setup. So you will need to do it yourself.
Below is a great resource with instructions on how to set it up:
Do all versions of raspberry pi have bluetooth?
The raspberry pi 4 is one of the latest models, however, this amazing piece of technology has come a long way since its conception.
Below is a list of all the models of raspberry pi in order from oldest to newest and the year which they were released;
- Pi 1 Model B (2012)
- Pi 1 Model A (2013)
- Pi 1 Model B+ (2014)
- Pi 1 Model A+ (2014)
- Pi 2 Model B (2015)
- Pi Zero (2015)
- Pi 3 Model B (2016)
- Pi Zero W (2017)
- Pi 3 Model B+ (2018)
- Pi 3 Model A+ (2019)
- Pi 4 Model A (2019)
- Pi 4 Model B (2020)
- Pi 400 (2021)
So which of the models above have bluetooth?
The list below shows the raspberry pi models which have bluetooth and which version :
- Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ (Bluetooth 4.1)
- Raspberry Pi 3 Model B (Bluetooth 4.1)
- Raspberry Pi Model 3B+ (Bluetooth 4.2)
- Raspberry Pi 4 Model B (Bluetooth 5)
How do you know if your raspberry pi has bluetooth?
Knowing if a raspberry pi has bluetooth comes down to a couple of checks.
If you still have the packaging you can find out what model you have and check to see if it’s any of the four models that were mentioned above having bluetooth.
However, if you have lost the packaging fear not, as the model should be written on the board itself.
Also, you can physically check the board to see if it has the bluetooth chipset as shown in the image below.
What are the benefits of having bluetooth on a raspberry pi?
As we saw earlier, bluetooth opens up doors to many possibilities for new projects. But, one of the major benefits is being able to transfer data without the need of wires.
You might have experienced the frustrations that come with trying to tame unruly pieces of wire. Bluetooth eliminates this stress entirely.
Also, you are not restricted to a specific space when using bluetooth.
What if your raspberry pi does not have bluetooth?
If you have a model of raspberry pi that does not have bluetooth, do not fear!
You can still have the awesome powers of bluetooth!
There are bluetooth usb adapters that you can connect to your raspberry pi (via the bluetooth ports) to give it bluetooth capability.
You will have to research what bluetooth adapter is compatible with the model of raspberry pi that you have and what are the steps for setting it up.