Does the iPad Support Bluetooth?

Your iPad supports the full range of Bluetooth-enabled devices

Every iPad supports a version of Bluetooth. Recent models support Bluetooth 5, which is backward compatible with previous Bluetooth versions. The iPad, therefore, can use many of the same wireless devices as your Mac or PC uses.

How Bluetooth Works

Bluetooth is short-range wireless communication similar to Wi-Fi, but what makes Bluetooth special is its highly encrypted nature. Bluetooth devices must be paired to each other in order to work, although you usually only need to pair the device the first time you use it with your iPad. The process of pairing the devices creates an encrypted tunnel by which the devices exchange information. This makes it secure even though the information is transferred wirelessly.

How to Locate Bluetooth on the iPad

Before you pair any device with the iPad, you must turn on Bluetooth.

  1. Open the Settings on the iPad.

  2. Select Bluetooth in the left sidebar.

  3. Tap the slider next to Bluetooth in the main window to On/green.

    iPad Bluetooth settings

Each Bluetooth-compatible device comes with its own specific pairing instructions. After it is connected, it appears in the My Devices section.

Versions of Bluetooth on iPads

As you might expect, the newer the iPad, the more recent the version of Bluetooth it has. Each Bluetooth version supports all previous versions, but if you find a peripheral that requires Bluetooth 5, you need an iPad with Bluetooth 5 to use it. The iPads and their Bluetooth versions are:

  • iPad Pro: All iPad Pros beginning with the 2nd generation ship with Bluetooth 5. The original iPad Pro supported Bluetooth 4.2.
  • iPad mini: The 5th generation ships with Bluetooth 5. The 3rd and 4th generations support 4.2, while the 1st and 2nd generations came with 4.0.
  • iPad Air: The 3rd generation iPad Air ships with Bluetooth 5. The 2nd generation supports 4.2, and the 1st generation came with 4.0.
  • iPad: The 7th generation iPad, along with the 5th and 6th generations, comes with Bluetooth 4.2. The 3rd and 4th generation iPads come with Bluetooth 4.0, and the 2nd generation iPad and original iPad shipped with Bluetooth 2.1.

Popular Bluetooth Accessories for the iPad

Several different device classes are particularly popular with the iPad:

  • Wireless Keyboards. When you buy a wireless keyboard for your iPad, most will also be compatible with a PC or Mac. One of the most popular accessory options for the iPad is keyboard cases, which combine a case for the iPad with a Bluetooth keyboard, turning the iPad into a quasi-laptop.
  • Wireless Headphones. While the iPad won't take over the iPhone's ability to stream music while being mobile, it does just as good a job at the streaming music part of the equation. It simply won't fit in your pocket—unless you have an iPad Mini and huge pockets. Bluetooth headphones such as Beats wireless headphones and Apple AirPods are popular accessories.
  • Bluetooth Speakers. Apple designed AirPlay specifically to stream media to Apple TV and AirPlay-enabled speakers, but any Bluetooth-enabled speaker or soundbar works well for streaming music. Most soundbars now come with a Bluetooth setting, which is a great way to turn your iPad into your den's digital jukebox.
  • Wireless Game Controllers. The iPad continues to make giant leaps forward in gaming, but while the touch screen can be perfect for some game genres, it isn't ideal for a first-person shooter. That's where game controllers come into the mix. Using Bluetooth and the made-for-iOS standard, it's possible to buy an Xbox-style game controller and use it with many of your iPad games.