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Apple adds Bluetooth 4.2 to iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and iPad Air 2


Changes to Apple’s published tech specs for various products are rare, but when they happen, they’re typically interesting — and under-the-radar. At some point following the September 9th announcement of the 2015 iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPad Pro and iPad mini 4, Apple quietly modified the tech specs and comparison pages for 2014’s iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and iPad Air 2 to bump them all from Bluetooth 4.0 to Bluetooth 4.2, the latest version of the increasingly popular wireless standard. While the sixth-generation iPod touch shipped with Bluetooth 4.1, the original iPad Air, iPad mini 2, and iPhone 5s all remain on Bluetooth 4.0.

Bluetooth 4.2 notably promises up to 2.5x faster speeds and up to 10x greater data capacity over its predecessor, as well as improving privacy, security, and power efficiency. Apple is expected to release a new keyboard, Magic Mouse 2, and Magic Trackpad 2 featuring Bluetooth 4.2 technology…

Although it’s unclear whether a firmware update or changed hardware inside more recently manufactured iPhone 6 and iPad Air 2 devices is responsible for the new Bluetooth 4.2 support, upgraded firmware might be the answer. In the past, Bluetooth 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 devices could not be upgraded to newer versions of the standard, but Bluetooth 4.0 devices were able to upgrade to Bluetooth 4.1 using product-specific software patches. Some reports have suggested, however, that Bluetooth 4.2’s speed and data capacity improvements would require new hardware, making Apple’s implementation somewhat curious.

We’ve reached out to Apple for additional details and will update this article when we receive them.

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  1. mikhailt - 7 years ago


    It’s not a suggestion, the performance increase does require a hardware update but the rest can be added via software updates and be classified as BT 4.2 without the performance increases.

  2. danzaph - 7 years ago


    Apparently some but not all Bluetooth 4.2 features will be available as an update for older Bluetooth adapters. “Privacy features may be available via firmware update, but it does ultimately depend on the manufacturer implementation,” a representative for the Bluetooth SIG told Ars. “The increased speed and packet size features will require a hardware update.” … it doesn’t appear as though older hardware will be able to take full advantage of the newer spec.

    • coinaphrase - 7 years ago

      Yes, I think they are updating the software stack to meet BT 4.2 functional requirements, but missing the hardware needed for certain features. Per the spec, it still counts as “4.2”, much the same way Apple implemented USB-C as USB “3.1”, but basically 3.0 with the new USB-C port.
      Even so, this “4.2” should still have efficiency and compatibility advantages over just sticking with 4.0.
      4.2 support should improve the Homekit / IoT integration experience.

  3. Éric Garneau - 7 years ago

    Ok Apple. What about the new Apple TV ?

  4. Rich Davis (@RichDavis9) - 7 years ago

    Maybe they should call Bluetooth 4.2, Bluetooth 5.0 instead.

  5. Alex Kaess - 7 years ago

    Could this mean the Apple TV 4 firmware could be updated to support Bluetooth 4.2?

    • Since they aren’t technically producing the AppleTV yet anything is possible (dev units could simply be PoC hardware), but reading the specs and looking at other articles it doesn’t look like 4.0 can be updated to 4.2 via a firmware update so if it ships with 4.0 I think you will be out of luck.

  6. thisisasticup - 7 years ago

    I definitely notice a giant speed difference with my smart lock on the 6s

  7. PhilBoogie - 7 years ago

    Jeremy, you may wish to adjust the title here. Thanks for the article though, makes me wonder why the new AppleTV is still on v4.0

  8. o0smoothies0o - 7 years ago

    Jeremy the new iPod Touch has Bluetooth 4.1. Look it up on Apple.

    • Jeremy Horwitz - 7 years ago

      Entirely correct, and fixed in the article. Thanks!

  9. Greg Kaplan (@kaplag) - 7 years ago

    The odd thing is the ipod touch since it has the iphone 6 internals. I figure BLE 4.2 would be crucial to AirPods to solve latency and battery concerns. But why wouldn’t the touch want to support that?

  10. Scott Snider - 7 years ago

    I had the iPhone 6+ and now the 6+s and both are not good with bluetooth stuff, nothing wants to connect its almost a joke.

  11. ezy (@live_ezy) - 7 years ago

    First, Apple updated that information only on production comparison page. Then, it made change to the product specification pages. The later process took multiple weeks.

  12. Firmware can almost never increase speed unless there was some underlying issue in the software to begin with or they have a bit * next to it saying when in xyz mode. Data capacity (aka packet length extension) could definitely be done without new hardware.

    Reading the specs I suspect new hardware and give the 2.5x speed increase doesn’t have an asterisk next to it.

  13. Yogesh Patel - 7 years ago

    How can a software update brings Bluetooth 4.2? Isn’t it from hardware side?

    • fistsoffrost123 - 7 years ago

      Some of the comments here are saying that the security aspects of 4.2 are updated but the speed increase would require newer hardware.

  14. Jeff Podraza - 7 years ago

    Will address connection issues I have seen with the 6. Since I have had the 6, the car connection has been less the stellar…. thank thoughts?

  15. minieggseater - 7 years ago

    Has this imoroved the app load speed on the watch ? ……or is a new watch required with a new bt chip ? …..

  16. Abedoss - 7 years ago

    In talking about supporting worldwide networks and importing new hardware features to old devices (BT 4.2 in iPhone 6/6+), my Verison iPhone 5s A1533 was not supporting LTE for Zain network in Jordan and the whole middle-east and north africa, and now after upgrading to iOS 9 it supports it even though Zain not listed under supported networks in iPhone 5s A1533 section. I have an iPhone 5 also does not support LTE for Zain in Jordan under iOS 8, but I will try to upgrade to iOS 9 and I think it may work the same way as iPhone 5s. At the end in addition to these iPhones I have an 4s with nonfunctional BT & WiFi, BT switch have a looping circle while the WiFi switch is grayed out, and I feel that this problem is affecting battery life, I will try upgrading to iOS 9 and will let you know the results.

  17. Iphone 6 plus is now officially 4.2 bt.

  18. Scott Snider - 7 years ago

    Is that why I can’t connect to anything bluetooth? I mean I have the new iPhone 6+s and it will not connect to anything bluetooth.

  19. yvesmeersmans - 7 years ago

    @horwitz Still no answer from Apple?