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What is the difference between Bluetooth® technology and Wi-Fi?

What is Wi-Fi®? Is it the same as Bluetooth technology?

Wi-Fi is short for "Wireless Fidelity" – a user-friendly nickname for devices that have been certified by an industry group called the Wi-Fi Alliance.

Bluetooth technology is built into electronic gadgets and allows them to connect directly with each other wirelessly.

Bluetooth technology and Wi-Fi share some pieces of technology, but are used for very different things.

Wi-Fi is often referred to as "wireless internet", because that's what it is most often used for, accessing the internet. When you see people surfing the web in a cafe, they're probably using Wi-Fi.

Bluetooth technology is in lots of the devices that you already have and can be used for all sorts of things. It works for both voice–like talking hands-free on a headset or speakerphone–and data like pictures, music and documents.

How can you use Bluetooth technology?

Setting up Bluetooth products is easy. Bluetooth devices do most of the work for you–they can find and identify one another and all you need to do is push a button to give them permission to communicate. Also, because the devices work directly with each other, you can use Bluetooth technology almost anywhere.

    Music - with Bluetooth wireless technology you can listen to music from your music player, mobile phone or computer using speakers, headphones, home stereos and many other devices.

    Printing - with Bluetooth wireless technology you can also print your favorite pictures wirelessly directly from your Bluetooth enabled phone or PC.

    Input - Bluetooth technology allows you to control your PC, laptop and more without the hassle of cords.

    Transfer - Easily transfer photos, music and other information between your mobile phone and your PC or laptop using Bluetooth wireless technology.

Wi-Fi is great for the internet

You can use Wi-Fi to connect to the internet through a stationary access point. An "access point" is an extra piece of equipment that Wi-Fi generally requires to allow devices to connect and work together. While possible, it's hard to make Wi-Fi products, like a laptop, PC and a printer, connect and work together directly. This also means Wi-Fi works primarily in fixed locations, sometimes known as "hot spots."

Bluetooth technology goes with you

When you're in the car, you can use Bluetooth technology to talk hands-free on your phone or computer using a headset, speakerphone or car kit.

When you're away from home and want to use your laptop, but can't find a hot spot, no problem. You can use Bluetooth enabled 3G and 4G cell phones to tether your laptop and use the 3G and 4G speeds as an internet connection.

Speed

The speed of your Wi-Fi connection depends on how many other people are connected to the same "access point." If the coffee shop or airport terminal is crowded, your Wi-Fi internet connection may slow down a bit.

Because Bluetooth products talk directly with each other, it's very rare that having many products connected at one time will slow down the speed of your connection.

© 2013 Bluetooth SIG, Inc. All rights reserved.