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Bluetooth connection problems? Here are 11 fixes

Don't worry, we're here with solutions.
By
October 28, 2022

Bluetooth has been around for well over 20 years and shows no signs of slowing down, despite more recent technologies snapping at its heels. You can connect Bluetooth headphones to a Pixel Watch, Fitbit, or Playstation. You can connect Alexa to Bluetooth speakers, and Bluetooth speakers to a TV. The two-decade-old technology can also be found in keyboards, gaming controllers, trackers, and dongles. But what do you do if you have Bluetooth connection problems? Even the most reliable, robust, mature technologies occasionally have off days. Below are 11 tips to try if your Bluetooth connection goes on the fritz.

Read more: A little history of Bluetooth

QUICK ANSWER

Bluetooth connection problems are usually caused by the Bluetooth device being paired with another gadget. You also need to be within range, the devices have to be fully charged, they need to use compatible Bluetooth versions, and you need to stay away from Smart Home devices, USB hubs, and Wi-Fi routers.


JUMP TO KEY SECTIONS

Is Bluetooth switched on?

Bluetooth Icon toggle on connection smartphone settings menu
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

We first tackle the obvious question — is your Bluetooth even switched on? I know it may be a bit offensive to suggest such a thing, but we all have our dozy moments. So don’t shoot the messenger just yet. Switching on Bluetooth will then instantly make your other devices discoverable.

iOS

bluetooth iphone connection

If you’re using an iPhone or iPad, go to Settings > Bluetooth and make sure the feature is toggled to green. Once it is, it will start looking for other Bluetooth devices nearby, including AirPods, Apple Watch, and other Bluetooth devices.

Android

When it comes to Android devices, it depends upon which Android model you have. Various devices have slightly varying menu locations, making it difficult to give precise directions. But in general, go to the device settings, and there will be a Bluetooth option in there, along with a toggle button similar to iOS devices.

Windows

On Windows, start typing the word Bluetooth into the Windows start menu, and you will immediately get the link to access Bluetooth settings. Clicking that link will bring you to the Windows section for Bluetooth, where you can toggle on the setting.

Mac

bluetooth mac connection

With a Mac, go to System Settings > Bluetooth. Toggle on the feature, and it will begin searching for nearby devices.

Make sure your Bluetooth device isn’t connected to another device

iOS Bluetooth connection iPhone 8 Plus

The biggest pain in the neck regarding Bluetooth is that if a device is already paired with another device, you have to unpair it before using it with something else.

The biggest Bluetooth connection problem is headphones. If you’re listening with headphones to something on your phone and decide to listen to something on your tablet, you have to unpair the headphones from your phone first. Until you do, your tablet won’t detect the headphones. Not the most seamless of experiences.

So if your device is not detecting the Bluetooth device, check your other gadgets to see if one of them is paired with it instead. If so, unpair it, and you should be good to go (hopefully.) You can unpair the devices by tapping the Forget this Device setting.

Make sure your Bluetooth device is within range

bluetooth connection range

The maximum range for Bluetooth is 30 feet (10 meters.) That means you can’t connect your headphones to your laptop and then go out for a walk. You also can’t allow anything like walls and other obstacles to get in the way of a Bluetooth connection.

So make sure the devices are very close to one another, and ensure there are no big thick obstacles getting in the way.

Check what the Bluetooth pairing process is

bluetooth connection pairing

There are usually a couple of different methods involved in pairing two devices via Bluetooth. Most of the time, you simply switch on Bluetooth, it discovers your other nearby devices, you tap the one you want, and off you go to the races.

However, there may be other times when Bluetooth pairing involves typing a sequence of numbers from the other device. Once you type that sequence of numbers, it authorizes the connection. This is common if you are trying to connect to a smart TV, for example.

So if the usual pairing sequence doesn’t work, see if a series of numbers is required instead. If it’s a smart TV, you’ll see it on the screen soon enough.

Make sure both devices are fully charged

anker 726 2 port charger
Anker

Bluetooth only really works at optimal levels if both devices are charged properly. It doesn’t always have to be at 100%, but if the battery hovers at around 15—20%, you will start having Bluetooth connection problems when Bluetooth goes into power-saving mode. So charge up both devices and then try to pair them again.

If you can’t wait for charging to complete, you may be able to disable the power-saving mode manually. Check online or the manual for that particular device to see if this is possible. But you still need to do some charging.

Are any of the devices using an incompatible Bluetooth version?

Bluetooth connection icon smartphone settings
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Bluetooth versions are often compatible, so this shouldn’t be an issue. However, there is a Bluetooth standard called Bluetooth Smart, and devices with Bluetooth Smart don’t recognize other Bluetooth versions.

Find out if one of the devices has Bluetooth Smart and the other one doesn’t. If so, there’s your issue right there. If that’s the case, there’s nothing you can do about it.

Clear the Bluetooth cache

Bluetooth icon connection
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

iOS

  • “Forget” all Bluetooth devices saved on your phone or tablet. Every single one of them.
  • Restart your device.

Android

  • Go to Settings > Apps > Bluetooth > Storage > Clear Cache. The wording may vary slightly, depending on what Android phone you have.
  • Clear the cache.
  • Restart your phone.

Windows

  • Open the Start menu and go to Settings.
  • Go to Devices > Bluetooth & other devices, and click the Bluetooth device you want to reset.
  • Select Remove Device and click Yes to confirm.
  • Restart your computer.

Mac

  • In macOS Finder, navigate to Go > Go To Folder.
  • Paste into the text field /Library/Preferences/com. apple. Bluetooth. plist and press Return.
  • Delete the highlighted file and empty your Trash.
  • Restart the computer.

Don’t stand too close to Smart Home devices

Amazon Echo Dot Alexa speaker bluetooth connection
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Smart home devices — such as hubs, locks, light bulbs, plugs, and more — use something called Zigbee. Like Wi-Fi and USB, Zigbee uses the same GHz spectrum as Bluetooth devices, which will interfere with device pairing. Therefore, you need to move away from your Zigbee devices when attempting to pair something via Bluetooth.

Once the pairing has been successfully completed, you can let Zigbee back into your life again.

Switch off any unneeded Wi-Fi and USB connections

wi-fi bluetooth connection

If you stand too close to Wi-Fi hotspots and USB connections, this can also negatively affect Bluetooth. You can usually re-enable these once you have successfully paired your Bluetooth devices.

Like Zigbee smart home devices, Wi-Fi and USB affect Bluetooth due to them using the same 2.4 GHz spectrum as Bluetooth. Therefore, the signals overlap and interfere with one another.

Restart your device

macos Bluetooth connection restart
Zak Khan / Android Authority

If you have told your device to “forget” a Bluetooth device, it will then become necessary to restart your device.

iOS

Restarting an iPhone involves holding the volume down button and power button. When the slide to power off slider appears on-screen, swipe to the right.

Android

The option to power off an Android phone can vary, depending on your model of phone. But generally, you can swipe down from the top of the screen to access various settings, including a power-off button.

Windows

For Windows computers, the restart option is in the Start Menu.

Mac

On Mac computers, click the Apple icon at the top-left of the screen and select Restart.

Check for any hardware defects

bluetooth speakers connection

If you’ve come this far without success, then it is very possible that one of your devices has a hardware defect. You will need to contact the device manufacturer to examine it if this is the case. This should finally clear up any Bluetooth connection problems, but we want to hope it doesn’t get this far.


Read more: Bluetooth codecs 101 — everything you need to know

FAQs

As the name implies, a Bluetooth jammer device blocks Bluetooth signals. It can be used to stop noisy parties next door if the music player is operating on Bluetooth or if someone is continually trying to hijack your Bluetooth connection. However, you should be aware that owning a Bluetooth jamming device (or any signal jamming device), is illegal in the United States under federal law. There are no exceptions.

Yes, a microwave oven can cause electromagnetic interference with Bluetooth signals.

As of October 2022, the latest Bluetooth version is 5.2.

No, Bluetooth cannot penetrate walls.

Yes. Low temperatures have been proven to affect Bluetooth performance.

Theoretically, yes. However, since the maximum Bluetooth distance is 30 feet (10 meters), the person would have to be standing very close to you.

Eavesdropping is when someone else listens to or intercepts data intended for another device. This can be prevented by a Bluetooth feature that uses a frequency-hopping spread spectrum designed to prevent this from happening.

Yes, there is no danger as far as the Bluetooth aspect is concerned.

Definitely Wi-Fi. It has a speed of at least 54 Mbps, compared to only three Mbps for Bluetooth. Bluetooth is not designed for transferring large amounts of data.