Raspberry Pi computers are fantastic, single-board computers that can fit a variety of uses and needs. However, most modern users wonder about the connectivity potential of the Raspberry Pi family of computers.
The Raspberry Pi 3 A+, 3 B, 3 B+, 4 B, and Zero W all feature WiFi and Bluetooth. 1st and 2nd generation Raspberry Pis, the standard Pi Zero and the Pi Pico do not possess built-in wireless connectivity.
The functionality of the Raspberry Pi family of computers has rapidly expanded over the past several years, and each generation of Raspberry Pi has increased its WiFi and Bluetooth speed and capabilities. Read on to find out the specific features of each Raspberry Pi.
What Raspberry Pi Computers have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth?
I compiled a handy table displaying which Raspberry Pi computers have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth:
|Raspberry Pi Model
|Raspberry Pi 1 Model A+
|Raspberry Pi 1 Model B+
|Raspberry Pi 2 Model B
|Raspberry Pi 3 Model B
|4.1 / Bluetooth Low Energy
|Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+
|2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11.b/g/n/ac
|4.2 / BLE
|Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+
|2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11.b/g/n/ac
|4.2 / BLE
|Raspberry Pi 4 Model B
|2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11 ac
|5.0 / BLE
|Raspberry Pi Pico
|Raspberry Pi Zero
|Raspberry Pi Zero W
|4.1 / BLE
Do all Raspberry Pi 4s have WiFi?
Yes, all Raspberry Pi 4s have WiFi. It doesn’t matter which version you own, all Raspberry Pi 4s have WiFi built in.
If you look at the above chart, you’ll see the Raspberry Pi Foundation started including built in WiFi beginning with all versions of the the Pi 3. This trend continued into the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B. In the future, there’s no reason to believe that future versions of the famous single board computer won’t have built in WiFi and Bluetooth.
Does the Raspberry Pi 4 have 5GHz WiFi?
Yes, all Raspberry Pi 4s have 5GHz WiFi. This is an enormous step forward for the Pi 4 as none of its predecessors had this functionality. Keep in mind, the Pi 4 also keeps its 2.4GHz ability; this will help it connect to a wide variety of WiFi antennas.
Does Raspberry Pi 4 have Bluetooth?
Yes. All versions of the Raspberry Pi 4 Model 4 have Bluetooth 5.0 and Bluetooth Low Energy compatibility.
Beginning with the Raspberry Pi 3, the main Raspberry Pi computers all have Bluetooth connectivity. It was no surprise that the Bluetooth abilities expanded to Bluetooth 5.0 with the release of the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B.
Where are the WiFi and Bluetooth antennas on the Pi 4 board?
The Bluetooth and WiFi antennas on the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B are located in the corner of the single board computer right next to the GPIO pins.
What is Bluetooth Low Energy?
Bluetooth Low Energy is a Bluetooth standard that works with other Bluetooth enabled devices. The main difference is its application. When most people think of a Bluetooth device, they think of a cell phone earpiece, video game controller, headphones, external speakers, and keyboards.
These devices all use Bluetooth for the long-term, back and forth exchange of data, and regular Bluetooth works very well for that. However, not all devices need to use that much power or need to maintain a long-term connection.
Bluetooth Low Energy is commonly used when battery consumption is a high priority or if the data exchange is minimal. For example, many diabetics use Bluetooth enabled glucometers (blood sugar meters) to check their blood sugar once every morning. These devices connect to smart phones and keep track of the daily readings.
It would be a total waste of battery life for the glucometer to continuously connect to a smart phone when the glucometer could just send one quick message a day to the smart phone. This is a perfect example of Bluetooth Low Energy. The glucometer sends a single, quick burst of information to the Bluetooth enabled smart phone and then severs the connection. This saves a considerable amount of battery life on the glucometer.
Bluetooth Low Energy is common on many modern devices such as cell phones, fitness trackers, smart watches, and, of course, the Raspberry Pi.
What types of Bluetooth devices can I connect to my Raspberry Pi?
Honestly, you can connect just about any compatible Bluetooth device to your Raspberry Pi. Bluetooth is used widely because of its low cost and broad compatibility. You can connect speakers, keyboards, mice, and video game controllers via Bluetooth to your Raspberry Pi.
Can the Raspberry Pi 1 and 2 connect to wi-fi?
Yes, the Raspberry Pi 1 and 2 can connect to wi-fi, but you’ll need to purchase a USB dongle.
I personally recommend the CanaKit Wi-Fi Adapter for older generations of Raspberry Pi; it’s inexpensive and widely available on Amazon.
The adapter simply plugs into one of the Raspberry Pi’s USB ports. The dongle works on the USB 2.0 standard, and it will connect without issue to just about any modern WiFi router.
Can the Raspberry Pi Zero W connect to 5GHz WiFi?
No. The Raspberry Pi Zero W only connects to 2.4GHz WiFi.
Keep in mind: the Pi Zero and the Pi Zero are extremely similar to each other. The main difference, obviously, is that the Pi Zero W has wireless connectivity. Please ensure that you’re working with the correct board.
However, due to the board’s small size and extreme low price, trade-offs had to be made. That’s why the Pi Zero W only has 2.4GHz connectivity.
Over the years, the WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities of the Raspberry Pi family of single board computers has expanded greatly. The Pi 4 Model B boasts some pretty impressive wireless connectivity for an inexpensive single board computer. The applications of these devices are vast and impressive. It’ll be exciting to see what these devices will do in the future.