What’s The Difference Between Bluetooth, Bluetooth Smart, and Bluetooth Smart Ready?



Bluetooth, Bluetooth Smart, and Bluetooth Ready – What’s the difference?? Today we thought we would tackle the question of the differences between the Bluetooth protocols, and what it means to you.

We will get started with a little recent history. Up until the fall of 2011, there was just plain old Bluetooth. This is the Bluetooth protocol that you would find in cell phones, wireless Bluetooth headsets, and Bluetooth connections found in laptop computers.So what is the definition of Bluetooth? Well, Wikipedia says this:

Bluetooth is a proprietary open wireless technology standard for exchanging data over short distances (using short-wavelength radio transmissions in the ISM band from 2400–2480 MHz) from fixed and mobile devices, creating personal area networks (PANs) with high levels of security. Created by telecoms vendor Ericsson in 1994, it was originally conceived as a wireless alternative to RS-232 data cables. It can connect several devices, overcoming problems of synchronization.

Bluetooth is managed by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, which has more than 16,000 member companies in the areas of telecommunication, computing, networking, and consumer electronics. The SIG oversees the development of the specification, manages the qualification program, and protects the trademarks. To be marketed as a Bluetooth device, it must be qualified to standards defined by the SIG. A network of patents is required to implement the technology and are licensed only for those qualifying devices; thus the protocol, whilst open, may be regarded as proprietary.”

OK, so Bluetooth is a wireless connection that uses the same frequency as home WiFi. The protocol is different than WiFi, and it is not compatible with WiFi. The working connection distance is not as great, with a typical connection distance of 10 feet, although connection distances of 30 feet can be obtained.

Easy enough! So life is good, and we can go on with our business. Well, not so fast. As I said, last fall, new Bluetooth protocols were introduced. The protocols that were released are called Bluetooth Smart, and Bluetooth Smart Ready. So what is the difference between Smart and Smart Ready, and how are they different from the standard Bluetooth protocol? This is where we can get into a lengthy discussion. The really short answer is that standard Bluetooth is considered version 2.1+EDR, which stands for Enhanced Data Rate. In June of 2010, a new spec was approved, called Bluetooth 4.0. A subset of Bluetooth 4.0 is a protocol called Bluetooth Low Energy. Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is aimed at very low power applications that can run off of a coin cell. In the fall of 2011, heart rate monitor sensors were introduced, and given the  “Bluetooth Smart” logo. Also, the logo “Bluetooth Smart Ready” was given to hosts. Hosts can be considered a computer, smart phone, or data watch that talks to a sensor.

Here are the descriptions taken directly from the Bluetooth Special Interest group website:

So where does this leave us? Still confused? Maybe a few practical details can help. Let’s start with heart rate monitor straps. Here are the three most popular Bluetooth and Bluetooth Smart HRM straps:

Polar WearLink+

The Polar WearLink®+ transmitter with Bluetooth® (2.1+EDR) wireless technology picks up your heart’s signals and transfers that data into a compatible mobile training application. The soft fabric chest strap seamlessly adapts to your body shape, bringing full freedom of movement to your training. With its hook mechanism, the transmitter is just as quick to put on as it is to take off.

  • Provides heart rate information to compatible mobile training applications
  • Uses Bluetooth transmission, ensuring that the mobile device (Android and Windows 7) finds your heart rate signal
  • Washable fabric strap
  • Water-resistant connector
  • User replaceable battery
  • Anti bacterial
  • Size: M-XXL
  • Retail price $79.95


Polar H7

The Polar H7 Bluetooth Smart heart rate sensor is designed to be used with the iPhone 4s, or connected to one of the Polar training computers. The features are shown below:

  • Compatible with iPhone 4S
  • Bluetooth Smart
  • Compatible with Polar training computers, including the FT series, RS100, RS200, RS300, RS400, CS100, CS200, CS300, and RCX5
  • Also compatible with Polar compatible gym equipment using the 5 Khz coded protocol
  • Can transmit up to 30 feet
  • Battery life up to 350 hours
  • User replaceable battery CR2025
  • Soft, washable strap
  • Retail price $79.95


Wahoo Fitness BlueHR

The Wahoo Fitness BlueHR Bluetooth Smart heart rate sensor is designed to be used with the iPhone 4s. The features are shown below:

  •    Compatible with iPhone 4S
  •    Bluetooth Smart
  •    Can transmit up to 10 feet
  •    Battery life up to 350 hours
  •    User replaceable battery CR2032
  •    Soft, washable strap
  •    Waterproof to 5 feet
  •    Retail price $79.95


So now it gets even more complicated. You have smart phone. You picked out a heart rate monitor strap that works with the phone that you have. Now you have to pick a phone software app. We have reviewed many of the apps that work on smart phones. Here are a few links to get you started:

If You Use Your Phone to Workout, Read This!

iPhone Apps That Work With The Polar H7 Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate Monitor Strap

Polar WearLink+ Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor In Depth Review

Polar H7 Bluetooth low Power Heart Rate Monitor In Depth Review

Software Product Reviews


You will find that some of the apps, even if they run on the phone that you have, may not work with the heart rate monitor strap you chose, so check it out before you buy.

Here are questions many of you have asked:

Q: Is the Motorola Razr compatible with the Polar H7, since the phone claims to be Bluetooth Smart compatible?

A: It was originally claimed on the Polar website to be compatible, but the website was changed to only mention compatibility with the iPhone 4s. Bottom line is, I don’t know. Let me know if you find out.


Q: Is the Polar WearLink+, Polar H7, or Wahoo Fitness BlueHR compatible with the iPhone 3G, 3GS, or the iPhone 4?

A: No. The Polar H7 and Wahoo Fitness BlueHR are compatible only with the iPhone 4s. The Polar H7 and Wahoo Fitness BlueHR will NOT work with the iPhone 3G, 3GS, or plain 4. None of the iPhones are compatible with the Polar WearLink+.


Q: What phones are compatible with the Polar WearLink+?

A: Polar claims that the phones that work with the WearLink+ are

  • HTC Wildfire S, Desire S, Sensation XE
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace, Galaxy Mini, Galaxy Gio, Galaxy i9000
  • LG Thrill

The Wearlink+ may work with other Android phones, but the only way to know for sure is to try it. You may have better luck with a newer Android phone.

I hope this helps you pick a heart rate monitor strap and app that is compatible with your phone.

As always,

Happy Training!!

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  3 Responses to “What’s The Difference Between Bluetooth, Bluetooth Smart, and Bluetooth Smart Ready?”

  1. […] and Bluetooth Smart Ready technology, and the devices that use it, check out our how-to-guide "What's The Difference Between Bluetooth, Bluetooth Smart, and Bluetooth Smart Ready?" This is a page discussion on the technology, and dedicated to heart rate monitor straps that use […]

  2. since we have 2 devices that have to deal with a battery life limitation, both hrm belt and phone.
    On a 6 hours training with gps, mobile network and bluetooth on, this ll take a lot of battery life from my htc one x.
    Would it make a big difference for my phone between bluetooth 2 and bluetooth smart/4?

  3. […] You should also know that the ithlete Cardiosport heart rate monitor uses the Bluetooth SMART protocol. As such, it is designed to work with the iPhone 4s, iPhone 5 and later iPhones. It does not work with the iPhone 3G, 3GS, and iPhone 4.  If you want to learn more about Bluetooth Smart or Bluetooth Smart ready, check out our page “What’s the Difference Between Bluetooth, Bluetooth Smart, and Bluetooth Smart Ready?” […]

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