I was sitting at my desk writing this article. Besides my laptop connecting to WiFi, I also had my phone beside me, my smartwatch on the left wrist, wireless headphones on my ears.
Writing is my habit and these items help me write smoothly. The devices need different technology for different communication purposes.
- Bluetooth – to connect the smartwatch and the wireless headphones to the phone
- WiFi – to connect the phone and the laptop to the outside world called the “Internet”
- 3G/4G/5G – to connect the phone to countless services via the “Internet”
Why Bluetooth, WiFi, and sometimes 3G/4G/5G? Why can’t we choose one?
A lot of you might be curious. To answer this question, I will bring up a real-life story.
Who goes the furthest? 🌠
I was a bit thirsty when I was writing, so I got up and went to get some water with my headphones still on. First ten steps I could still hear the music connecting from my phone to my headphones clearly. Another 20 and 30 steps were still okay. But when 50 steps away, the music started to be missing. That’s because Bluetooth is the technology that could transmit only that far distance. And when I walked back closer to my desk (actually to my phone), closer to the source of the signal, I could then listen to the music again.
Not so long lunchtime came. I put off my headphones on the desk, took my phone, and went out to eat. I noticed that when I walked out, my phone could still detect WiFi. When I arrived at the parking lot, it was still okay. But when I walked to the front of another building, the WiFi signal was gone and the 3G/4G (or 5G) replaced. And that’s because WiFi can only go that far. 3G, 4G, and 5G cover more enormously which we could say, they cover the whole planet earth.
Bluetooth’s is shorter than WiFi’s and WiFi’s is shorter than 3G, 4G, and 5G (We could say that it is a cellular signal wave).
Because the smartwatch and my wireless headphones are devices that should be close to a phone, so Bluetooth is used instead of WiFi.
But the question is when WiFi can send and receive information at a further distance, why don’t we just use WiFi? Why do we need to limit the distance and use Bluetooth?
Who consumes more energy? 📳
When I am at home, I normally turn on a wireless speaker to listen to music (well, because you don’t have to care about anyone). This time my speaker was connecting to my computer via Bluetooth. I was doing my work for three hours with the music being played in the background nicely and smoothly.
You can see that all of my devices need the source of energy – no matter it is from being charged or using a battery. And in this case, my speaker worked long hours because of the battery and that’s also because. These days the low energy technology as known as ‘Bluetooth Low Energy’ – BLE has small usage of energy. It is so little that one small device can last several years with a coin battery.
How about WiFi? Firstly, every WiFi router at home does not use a battery. Each of them needs to be plugged in, right? That’s because
Secondly, mobile phones and laptops have WiFi and use batteries too, many of you may ask. Yes, they can. They can because the batteries of these two devices are small but have a big capacity, they can support WiFi.
Have you ever noticed when we turn an ‘Airplane Mode‘ on (Flight mode) and the WiFi is turned off and we travel for about ten hours but when we turn the phone on again, the battery doesn’t go down a bit? That’s because WiFi is not used.
Okay, we have come this far. Both Bluetooth and WiFi have advantages and disadvantages. So, which one should we use?
Who can send and receive more information? 💪
It was time to go home. I walked out of my office and headed to the train station. While walking there, I looked at my smartwatch to see how many steps I had walked that day. What I saw was the number of steps, the distance, the number of stairs, the heart rate, and the calories I had burned so far. Those were just small numbers that were sent to my smartwatch via Bluetooth – no photos nor moving pictures.
When I arrived at the train, I took my phone out to watch some YouTube. For the first 5 minutes, everything was smooth. My phone which was connecting to the world via 3G was working in full force. But when it came to the most exciting scene, there was a delay! (ruining everything including the quality of the video and the sound).
I looked up at the top of the phone, the 3G was on instead of 4G which 3G could send and receive less information than 4G. The 3G was trying to download the video but it couldn’t. So I decided to turn off the phone. When I went back home, my phone detected the WiFi. So I turned on YouTube again and wow, the quality of the video was in high definition, the sound was clear and smooth making my watching experience amazing!
In theory, WiFi can send and receive more information better than “Mobile Network Data”. Moreover, these days fiber optic plays an important role in improving better WiFi’s quality which there is no problem with WiFi at all. But guess what, since the emergence of 5G, now 5G has more download speed than WiFi in some countries. (Even though WiFi can penetrate better).
The last factor that we have to consider is …
Who is cheaper and who is more expensive? 💸
This one is very clear. Bluetooth is free which means I can use my smartwatch, my headphones, and my wireless speaker without paying for any services. All the devices connect to my phone directly to send and receive information. I don’t have to spend any money on the service provider. Everything is free!
But when we talk about Mobile Network Data, it is not free at all. Since the old period of 2G only had to send and receive sound and messages, we still had to pay for monthly service. Until now sound and messages are not quite popular as they used to be. People turned to focus more on access to the Internet which is called ‘Mobile Data’. So now it has become a trend for everyone to get a monthly service according to the capacity we want to use which is also various in prices.
Now everybody including me is surrounded by the technology used for communication and various devices for different purposes. Some of them can work from a short distance but some of them can work from a far distance and cover more areas. Some of them can send and receive more information and some of them use low energy.
However, in the nearer future, challenges are there as well. Is it possible if we replace some disadvantages of one technology with some advantages of another technology to extend the technology abilities such as Smart City or Smart Farm? … The answer is it is possible and it already happened.