We live in a digital age and consume a lot of data every day. It starts with checking emails and social networks in the mornings, and ends with watching a movie or a sitcom before bed. In developing countries, people can't always stream TV shows directly from the Internet, and hence, are dependent on someone else to provide them with their favorite TV shows and video clips. Well, you don't always carry your portable 3 TB USB 3.0 hard drive around, do you? You'd answer like, "No, duh! I have a smartphone with a 64 GB memory." And that is why we are having this comparison of Wi-Fi Direct and Bluetooth 4.0―the two most used wireless technologies for sharing data on the go.
When we thought Bluetooth 2.0 was super-fastBluetooth 2.0 has a theoretical data rate of 3 Mbps when EDR is enabled. This is nowhere near to the transfer speeds achievable by Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi Direct.
Everyone knows what Bluetooth is. So, I will shed some light on the basics of Wi-Fi Direct only.
What is Wi-Fi Direct?
It is wireless standard based on IEEE 802.11 WLAN, which allows devices to connect with each other and share data without using an access point. Its capability to do away with hardware wireless access points has greatly reduced the setup time for connecting devices wirelessly. Actually, Wi-Fi Direct devices create a soft access point for sharing data. Therefore, upgrading a device to support Wi-Fi Direct is not a major issue. If you are using a device running on either of the versions mentioned below, or a more recent version of the corresponding mobile OS, then your device can support Wi-Fi Direct: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, Blackberry OS 10.2.1, Windows Phone 8.1, and iOS 8.
Wi-Fi Direct vs. Bluetooth 4.0: Comparison
|Specifications||Wi-Fi Direct||Bluetooth 4.0|
|Frequency Band Used||2.4 GHz and or 5 GHz||2.4 GHz|
|Number of Devices||Several devices can be connected||One master can control up to 7 slave devices|
|Data Transfer Rate||Up to 250 Mbps||Up to 25 Mbps|
|Range||Up to 200 meters||Can be optimized to 200 feet and beyond|
|Compatibility||Works with traditional Wi-Fi devices||Compatible with all older Bluetooth versions|
|Secured By||WPA2 with 256-bit AES encryption||128-bit AES encryption|
|Power Requirements||Consumes more power than Bluetooth 4.0||Bluetooth 4.0 LE devices use very less power, and can be powered up even by coin cells|
|Applications||Data transfer applications in smartphones, tablets, and laptops. It can also be used to form a wireless network.||Used in smartphones, laptops, tablets, smartwatches, music players, printers, computer peripherals, health monitors, etc.|
The practical data transfer rate and range for both, Wi-Fi- Direct and Bluetooth 4.0 are dependent on factors like the presence of obstacles between the devices, power consumption of the devices, signal interference, etc. The use of these technologies mainly depends on the type of work. For e.g.: Wi-Fi Direct is way faster than Bluetooth 4.0 for transferring heavy files. Bluetooth Special Interest Group claims a Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) technology can be used to operate devices like a keyboard, mouse, and human interface for more than a year, without recharging.