Bluetooth 4.0 support and iPhone 4
Ask iLounge offers readers the opportunity to get answers to their iPod-, iPhone-, iPad-, iTunes-, or Apple TV-related questions from a member of the iLounge editorial team. We'll answer several questions here each week, and of course, you can always get help with more immediate concerns from the iLounge Discussion Forums. Submit your questions for consideration using our Ask iLounge Submit Form. We reserve the right to edit questions for grammar, spelling, and length.
Q: With cool new Bluetooth accessories starting to appear on the market, I’m wondering if my iPhone 4 will support Bluetooth 4.0 in iOS 6? I know that Apple added stereo audio support for older iPhones and iPods a few years ago as part of an iOS upgrade, so I’m hoping they might do the same for Bluetooth 4.
A: Unfortunately, this seems extremely unlikely both for technical reasons as well as Apple’s general history when it comes to adding features to older devices.
From a hardware point of view, it’s important to understand the difference between a Bluetooth profile, such as A2DP, and a Bluetooth specification, such as Bluetooth 4.0. Bluetooth profiles are software-based and can be added simply by providing new drivers or OS components, while Bluetooth specifications are based entirely within the hardware chipsets in most cases, with limited upgradeability depending on the chips that are being used.
The iPhone 4 uses a single-band Broadcom BCM4329 chip for Bluetooth the 2.1 + EDR specification and 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi. This is also the chip used in the third- and fourth-generation iPod touch, with a dual-band version used in the iPad, iPad 2 and second-generation Apple TV to provide 5Ghz Wi-Fi in additional to the standard 2.4GHz band.
In contrast, the iPhone 4S uses the single-band version of the Broadcom BCM4330 which is basically the next-generation version of the same chip, providing support for the Bluetooth 4.0 + HS specification.
Broadcom does indicate that the BCM4329 chip includes “provisions supporting future specifications” but it is unclear whether this means that it could actually be firmware upgraded to Bluetooth 4.0 or not, since it’s not always possible to include provisions for unknown specifications. Regardless, however, such an update would need to come from Broadcom, not Apple, and there is no indication that Broadcom has released—or ever will release—such an update. Keep in mind that the BCM4325 used in the iPhone 3GS and second-generation iPod touch noted similar “provisions” but no additional software features were ever provided beyond the addition of support for the A2DP profile in iOS 3.0, which as mentioned earlier is a software-based feature.
It’s also worth noting that Apple began using the Broadcom family of chipsets in 2008 with the second-generation iPod touch, and every Broadcom chip used since that time has also supported FM radio. This has led to repeated speculation that FM radio features would appear in an iOS update somewhere along the way, and that Apple chose this chip because it was planning to add FM radio features. Ultimately, however, this support never materialized, and it seems clear that the FM radio capabilities were simply an unnecessary extra feature that Apple received with the Broadcom chips.
- Will removing a credit card from Safari also remove it from Apple Pay?
- Can I mute Handoff calls coming into my Mac from my iPhone?
- How do I keep my iPhone calls from ringing on my Mac?
- Why doesn’t Traffic show up on my Today Notifications Screen?
- Why doesn’t my iPhone reconnect to Wi-Fi after I turn it on?
- Why can’t I see the iPad-style landscape view on my iPhone 6 Plus?
- Dutch court rules Apple can’t replace broken iPads with refurbished models
- Chinese blog claims Apple is only releasing two iPhone 8 models, no iPhone 7s or 7s Plus
- Apple releases fourth betas of iOS 10.3.2, watchOS 3.2.2, and tvOS 10.2.1
- Images claim to show iPhone 8 prototype with glass back, vertical camera
- Apple works on alternative power sources, new uses for waste heat in Denmark data center
- Training documents reveal safety details about Apple’s self-driving car system
- Supply shortfalls of upgraded components may delay iPhone 8 production to October/November
- Apple recruits two Google Satellite Executives
- Nike unveils new Nike-exclusive ‘Apple Watch NikeLab’
- iDevices Wall Outlet
- Koogeek Wi-Fi SmartSocket for Apple HomeKit
- Sony MDR-1000X Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones
- FiiO i1 Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Adapter
- Blue Ella Headphones
- Apple iPad (Fifth-Generation)
- AudioQuest NightOwl Carbon Headphones
- ExoLens PRO with Optics by ZEISS Wide-Angle Lens Kit
- Blue Sadie Headphones
- Circle with Disney Parental Control and Internet Filtering System
- Top Five: The Best Products for Building a Smart Home with HomeKit
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of watchOS 3
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of tvOS 10
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 10
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Photos gets Advanced Computer Vision
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Music app delivers ‘clarity and simplicity’
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Maps gets a major redesign
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 shakes up the user experience
- Inside the betas: watchOS 3 promises a real speed boost
- Inside the betas: A sneak peek at what’s new in tvOS 10