From speakers, to smartwatches, to input devices, the vast majority of wireless accessories we use with our smartphones connect to our handsets over Bluetooth. All the time, the technology behind Bluetooth is getting better, and over the years we’ve seen the release of new and improved standards – like the “low energy” support we got with Bluetooth 4.0. Sometimes adding compatibility for these changing standards means picking up new hardware, but that’s not always the case, and to some extent manufacturers are able to deliver next-gen Bluetooth support to existing devices by means of firmware updates. We’re wondering if Apple’s been up to just that, as the company makes some changes on its website that suggest a bunch of last year’s hardware has just graduated from Bluetooth 4.0 to Bluetooth 4.2.
At least, as of just a few weeks ago Apple was indicating that models like the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and iPad Air 2 all offered Bluetooth 4.0 support. Pull up Apple’s current phone/tablet comparison pages (links below), and you’ll see these devices now indicate compatibility with Bluetooth 4.2.
So what happened here? Did Apple deliver Bluetooth 4.2 support as part of its iOS 9 update and forgot to tell anyone? And just which 4.2 features are present? Reports suggest that while some of the privacy related improvements are deliverable via software update, improvements to data speed would actually require new hardware. There’s one theory that suggests Apple may have even gone that far, updating the silicon on these still-being-sold models, but that sounds like a stretch – and we’ve yet to see anything even approaching evidence for that idea.
One way or another, though, it looks like some aging hardware just picked up a nice new improvement.