How To Connect Bluetooth Devices to iPhone

Woman in front of bridge with wireless headphones
Jenner Images/Getty Images

The iPhone may not have a USB port for connecting accessories, but the iPhone is compatible with a ton of useful devices via Bluetooth. While most people think of Bluetooth as the way that wireless headsets get connected to phones, it's much more than that. Bluetooth is a general-purpose technology compatible with headsets, keyboards, ​speakers, and more.​

Connecting a Bluetooth device to an iPhone is called pairing.

Regardless of what kind of device you're pairing to your iPhone, the process is basically the same. Follow these steps to complete the iPhone Bluetooth pairing process (they also apply to the iPod touch):

  1. Begin by putting your iPhone and Bluetooth device near each other. Bluetooth's range is only a few feet, so devices that are too far apart can't connect
  2. Next, put the Bluetooth device you want to pair to the iPhone in discoverable mode. This allows the iPhone to see the device and connect to it. You make each device discoverable in different ways. For some it's as easy as turning them on, others require more work. Check the device's manual for instructions
  3. Tap the Settings app on your iPhone home screen
  4. Tap General (if you're on iOS 7 or up, skip this step and go to step 5)
  5. Tap Bluetooth
  6. Move the Bluetooth slider to On/green. When you do this, a list of all the discoverable Bluetooth devices appears
  1. If the device you want to pair with is listed, tap it. If not, consult the device's instructions to ensure it's in discoverable mode
  2. You need to enter a passcode to connect some Bluetooth devices with the iPhone. If the device you're trying to pair is one of those, the passcode screen appears. Consult the device's manual for the passcode and enter it. If it doesn't require a passcode, pairing happens automatically 
  1. Depending on what version of the iOS you're running, there are different indicators that you've paired your iPhone and the device. In older versions, a checkmark appears next to the paired device. In newer versions, Connected appears next to the device. With that, you've connected your Bluetooth device to your iPhone and can start using it.

Disconnecting Bluetooth Devices From iPhone

It's a good idea to disconnect a Bluetooth device from your iPhone when you're done using it so you don't run down the battery on both devices. There are two ways to do this:

  1. Turn off the device.
  2. Turn off Bluetooth on your iPhone. In iOS 7 or higher, use Control Center as a shortcut to turn Bluetooth on and off.
  3. If you need to keep Bluetooth on but just disconnect from the device, go to the Bluetooth menu in Settings. Find the device you want to disconnect and tap the i icon next to it. On the next screen, tap Disconnect.

Permanently Remove a Bluetooth Device

If you're not going to need to connect to a given Bluetooth device ever again—perhaps because you're replaced it or it broke—you can remove it from the Bluetooth menu, by following these steps:

  1. Tap Settings
  2. Tap Bluetooth
  3. Tap the i icon next to the device you want to remove
  1. Tap Forget This Device
  2. In the pop-up menu, tap Forget Device.

iPhone Bluetooth Tips

  • Remember that Bluetooth is for short-range networking. If you move the device and iPhone too far apart, the connection will be lost and you'll have to follow these steps again.
  • While Bluetooth doesn't drain as much battery as Wi-Fi, keeping it turned off when not in use is one of the ways that you can extend the battery life of your iPhone.

Full iPhone Bluetooth Support Specifications

The types of Bluetooth accessories that work with the iPhone and iPod touch depends on what Bluetooth profiles are supported by the iOS and device.

Profiles are specifications that both devices must both support to communicate with each other.

The following Bluetooth profiles are supported by iOS devices:

  • A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile) - Also known as Stereo Bluetooth, this lets iOS devices send wireless audio to compatible headphones and speakers. It is supported by all iOS devices except the original iPhone
  • AVRCP (Audio/Video Remote Control Profile 1.4) - Allows the iOS to control compatible AV equipment (TVs, receivers, stereos, etc.). All iOS devices except the original iPhone support this profile
  • Hands-Free Profile (HFP 1.6) - Enables iOS devices to work with hands-free car kits and headsets. All iPhones support this
  • Human Interface Device Profile (HID) - Supports interface devices like mice, keyboards, and joysticks. Neither the original iPhone nor the iPhone 3G supports this profile
  • Message Access Profile (MAP) - Mostly used for hands-free functionality in cars, this profile lets devices send messages to each other. All iPhones except the original, 3G, and 3GS support this
  • Personal Area Network (PAN) - Allows connection between multiple devices via wireless networks. Works on all iOS devices except the original iPhone
  • Phone Book Access Profile (PBAP) - Displays information from the device's address book, often used with hands-free car kits. Works on all iPhones.