Comparison between Bluetooth and IrDA

  Bluetooth IrDA
Physical medium RF (radio) infrared light (850 nm)
Operating Frequency 2.402 - 2.480 GHz (ISM band )
infrared light frequencies
Data Rate 1 Mbps (v1.1 or v1.2) *
3 Mbps (v2.0+EDR)
115 kbps (SIR) - 80 kbps effective
4 Mbps (FIR) - 3 Mbps effective
16 Mbps (VFIR)
Range (Coverage) 100 meters (Class 1)
20 meters (Class 2)
10 meters (Class 3)
1 meter
Topology point-to-point,
point-to-multipoint (star)
point-to-point (**)
Networking piconet, scatternet, PAN, LAN/WAN access direct connection, LAN (not used anymore)
Connection states (***) active, park, hold, sniff (active or not active)
Time for starting a new connection  up to 10 seconds, depending on the number of available Bluetooth devices within range < 1 second (500 ms average)
Latency short (1 ms), good for voice longer (typically 20 ms, but  may reach hundreds milliseconds)
IEEE standard 802.15.1
(medium-rate Wireless PAN)
Security measures frequency hopping (FHSS): 1600 hops/second over 79 1-MHz-channels, 48-bit MAC address filtering, non-discoverable mode, passkey (PIN) exchange (pairing), encryption line-of-sight (LOS), point-to-point, very short range, 30-degree cone, OBEX-based user authentication (user access levels)
Security risk when Bluetooth is turned on and discoverable.
Known risks: computer-like virus.
Supported Profiles Generic Access, Service Discovery, Serial Port, OBEX, DUN, Object Push, File Transfer, HID, HCRP, handsfree, audio gateway/headset, LAN access/PAN, BIP, BPP, AVRCP, A2DP, SAP. Point and Shoot, OBEX, File Transfer, Printing, Mobile Communication, Payment
Typical Applications cable replacement (e.g. keyboard, mouse, printer), voice/telephony (e.g. headset), mobile device to PC synchronization, mobile phone as modem, and object exchange (e.g. business card exchange, image transfer) spontaneous (ad-hoc) simple data transfer, e.g. payment, file transfer, business card exchange; synchronization
Advantage more flexible, supports mobility because no need for LOS. Point-and-shoot is very easy, anyone can handle.
Disadvantage Needs start-up knowledge in device discovery, pairing, service discovery, and COM port selection.
Longer connection setup.
Always requires LOS position and within 30-degree cone of IrDA beam.


- IEEE: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
- ISM: Industrial, Scientific, and Medical
- EDR: Enhanced Data Rate
- LOS : Line of Sight
- FSSS: Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum
- OBEX: OBject EXchange
- SIR: Serial IrDA, FIR: Fast IrDA, VFIR: Very Fast IrDA
- PAN: Personal Area Network
- DUN: Dial-Up Networking
- HID: Human Interface Device
- HCRP: Hardcopy Cable Replacement Profile
- A2DP: Advanced Audio Distribution Profile
- AVRCP: Audio Video Remote Control Profile
- BIP: Basic Imaging Profile
- BPP: Basic Printing Profile
- SAP: SIM Access Profile
- (*) Effective rate: 432.6 kbps (symmetric) or 721 kbps upstream/57.6 kbps downstream (asymmetric).
- (**) Actually IrDA supports point-to-multipoint connection, but because of the line-of-sight, 30-degree cone, and short-range requirements, practically a typical IrDA connection is point-to-point.
- (***) A.k.a. power (saving) modes.