Bluetooth is a beloved method of data transfer between two or more devices that are close by. Close is relative, though, because the distance progressively increased as Bluetooth released new standards and introduced rapid improvements. Another reason for its wide use is its backward compatibility. So, you’ll have no trouble pairing two devices that use standards released nearly two decades apart. Additionally, even though the technology is reliable most of the time, we’ll cover the other side – when it isn’t. That’s typically what sticks out in people’s memory, largely due to frustrations with finding a Bluetooth won’t connect fix.
Why is my Bluetooth not connecting?
Your Bluetooth may not be connecting for several reasons. It has helped shape our current digital lives and is an integral part of them. Today, it has become a basic feature on most IoT devices. In fact, if trends are to be believed, almost 7.6 billion Bluetooth-enabled devices will be shipped by 2027.
All this is evidence that highlights the importance of Bluetooth. But what happens when you can’t connect using this technology?
Bluetooth connections, like any other technology, are prone to issues. There are times when your Bluetooth either can’t establish a connection or drops several times. If you are also failing to connect to your favorite Bluetooth device and are wondering why this happens, then you are at the right place.
Because before we even attempt to fix the problem, it is essential that we recognize and understand the reasons behind it.
So, here are the most common causes of a Bluetooth connection failure:
- The devices are too far from each other.
- There is some obstruction between the devices.
- The Bluetooth feature is actually turned off on either device.
- You have disabled Bluetooth on your system.
- You are using an outdated Bluetooth driver.
- Your Bluetooth might be turned on, but not in pairing mode.
- The device you are trying to connect to is already connected to a different Bluetooth network.
- Both devices are using contradictory versions of Bluetooth.
- Your device has a low battery.
- Other, similar signals are interfering with your Bluetooth’s frequency.
Since range is one of the most important factors in determining a strong Bluetooth connection and can affect your connection quality, it is important for you to understand more about it. Here is a video that talks about the Bluetooth range. Do check it out.
What are the common Bluetooth connection issues?
Since we are talking about fixing Bluetooth connection errors and have already covered what causes them, it’s time to understand the different connection issues plaguing a Bluetooth connection:
- Your devices are too far apart.
- You have disabled Bluetooth.
- The device is under a malware attack, preventing normal functioning.
- Your device’s OS is causing your Bluetooth connection to drop.
- You are using an outdated Bluetooth connection that is resulting in glitches.
How to Fix Bluetooth Not Connecting Issue?
It could be frustrating not being able to connect to the most basic feature of your smartphone. If you are also facing similar issues, follow these methods to fix Bluetooth not connecting issue:
Method 1. Turn Bluetooth on
It sounds silly, but one of the most common reasons why Bluetooth pairing fails is that it isn’t turned on. Double-check that both Bluetooth is highlighted/active in the notification bar on Android, and Control Center on iOS. On top of that, a tiny “B“ icon should be in the status bar in the top right or left corner. You can always turn Bluetooth off, then back on, or restart the phone.
Method 2. Check whether devices are discoverable
Bluetooth connection can fail even if device visibility/discovery is turned off. So, to fix Bluetooth won’t connect issue, all you have to do is turn the functionality on. Here are 2 examples:
Do this to make Android 10 discoverable:
- Open Settings, then select Connected devices.
- Tap on Connection preferences, then go to Nearby Share (for file sharing), Cast (for casting screen to a Bluetooth-enabled screen), or Android Auto (for car screen).
- You’ll get a prompt to enable Device visibility or change its mode.
Smart devices using iOS convert into discovery mode when Bluetooth is turned on.
Open the Start menu, start typing ‘Bluetooth’, and then do the following:
- Select Bluetooth and other devices sharing.
- Under Related settings, click on More Bluetooth options.
- In the Options tab, put a checkmark in front of Allow Bluetooth devices to find this PC, then OK.
Method 3. Keep devices close enough
Even though the advertised distance for indoor use of Bluetooth 5.0 is around 131 feet or 40 meters, this isn’t reality. The range can be reduced by thick interior walls, metal frames, and plenty of other things. To fix the Bluetooth connection problem, make sure the devices are nearby and in line of sight. You can gradually separate them after they’re paired.
Method 4. Disable Airplane Mode
A usual culprit for Bluetooth connection failure is accidentally enabled Airplane Mode. This happens on Android and iOS and cuts off radio frequency receiving and transmitting from your device, making Bluetooth pairing impossible.
Method 5. Clean Bluetooth cache
Deleting the Bluetooth cache can eradicate glitches and saved passcodes, enabling a chance for a fresh start. For some users, if they mistype the passcode initially, they can’t fix a broken Bluetooth connection even if they edit it later on.
Here’s how to clear Bluetooth cache on Android 10:
- Open Settings, then go to Apps & notifications.
- Tap on Show all X apps. X represents the total number of apps.
- Tap the three-dot menu in the upper right corner, then select Show system.
- Find Bluetooth and BluetoothMIDI Service.
- Tap on them one after another, and tap on Clear Cache for both.
Clearing cache on iOS 13 works like this:
- Tap on Settings, then select Bluetooth.
- Find the paired device then tap on the “i“ icon next to it.
- Select Forget This Device.
- Restart your iOS device.
Method 6. Determine which pairing method the device uses
If you’ve used smartphones with Bluetooth, you’re familiar with passcodes. Well, that’s not the only option. Some devices that also use NFC (Near Field Communications) might require you to make physical contact to connect.
For example, this is a way to fix Bluetooth headphones. They aren’t necessarily damaged but for people who didn’t read the user guide, they can appear that way.
Method 7. Check compatibility
Incompatibility is another reason why Bluetooth pairings fail. While Bluetooth itself is backward compatible, similar technologies such as low-energy Bluetooth Smart aren’t compatible with older Bluetooth versions. For this specifically, a minimum of Bluetooth 4.0 is necessary and it still won’t work all of the time.
In contrast, Bluetooth 4.2 and 5.0 devices will work with Bluetooth Smart. In summary, a quick online search or browsing the user manual should clarify a lot of things.
Method 8. Check battery life
Various devices have a built-in battery-saver feature that triggers as the percentage goes down. It prevents things such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, mobile data, and other resource-intensive tasks from running to prevent energy expenditure.
Also, since data transfer via Bluetooth is done via radio frequency, a considerable electrical charge is required to power it So, to make this Bluetooth won’t connect fix work, charge all devices you’re trying to pair to at least 50%.
Method 9. Make sure there’s no conflict
Fixing a problem with connecting to Bluetooth can be quick and easy – moving the device away from interference. For example, a Wi-Fi signal, which can work on the same range and frequency. Other problematic devices include microwaves, wireless speakers, external monitors, baby monitors, and even DSS (Direct Satellite Service). A little-known fact: even USB 3.0 devices can interfere because they’re unshielded.
Method 10. Check the pairing limit
This Bluetooth won’t connect fix is most often seen in wireless headphones and speakers. The simplest ones are pre-set to connect to the last device they were paired with, and limited to one connection at a time.
That can be a problem if you plan to connect via smartphone while they’re searching for a computer or laptop. Neither of the two devices will find the other, making you ask yourself, “why won’t Bluetooth connect?“. Unpair/forget the device and establish a new connection.
Method 11. Download firmware or drivers
If you’re struggling to fix a broken Bluetooth connection on Windows, Linux, and Mac, you might need to download up-to-date drivers. The devices you purchased usually come with a 1.0 software version, which lacks critical security and functionality updates. The situation is similar with things such as smart streaming devices or Bluetooth routers, except that they need a firmware update.
How to prevent future Bluetooth connection issues?
Despite various issues present with Bluetooth technology, its popularity is not going to wane anytime soon. And if reports are to be believed, with innovation in the field, the newer Bluetooth technology will most likely do away with most of the common issues we face today. But before that, what can we do to prevent our Bluetooth devices from acting up, especially in the future?
- Always ensure that you are using the latest version of Bluetooth,
- Check that both pairing devices are using the same Bluetooth technology.
- Use a more secure Bluetooth, when possible.
- Check whether your BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) device is utilizing the link-layer encryption.
- If not, you must use Application layer encryption, for a secure data transfer channel.
- And finally, try to use additional authentication methods, that are independent of the Bluetooth architecture.
Bluetooth vs Wi-Fi vs NFC
Still not able to connect to Bluetooth? It might be that your device’s Bluetooth hardware is damaged. In that case, you will have to depend on other technologies such as Wi-Fi or NFC. The following table compares Bluetooth against similar technologies. Have a look:
|2.4 GHz & 5 GHz
|Various encryption and security protocols supported
|BLE, Bluetooth Classic
|ISO 14443, ISO 18092
|Data transfer, Audio streaming, IoT, Wireless devices
|Internet access, Networking
|Payment, Data exchange