Apple quietly adds Bluetooth 4.2 to iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air 2

Apple's comparison pages show the company has discreetly added the latest version of wireless comms standard Bluetooth to some of its iPhone and iPad models.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer
Some of the latest iPhone models feature Bluetooth 4.2.
Image: Apple
Apple has quietly updated the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air 2, and iPad mini 4 to support the Internet of Things-ready Bluetooth version 4.2.

Apple hasn't publicly announced support for Bluetooth 4.2 in the devices. But at some point since September's iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus launch, it has updated its product comparison pages to show that some of its devices have been modified to support the latest version of the wireless standard.

Both new iPhones and the recently launched iPad Pro ship with Bluetooth 4.2 while the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus shipped with Bluetooth 4.0.

Now, according to Apple's iPhone comparison page, the newest iPhones and the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have Bluetooth 4.2. The iPhone 5s remains on Bluetooth 4.0.

Similarly, the iPad comparison page now indicates that the iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, and iPad mini 4 have Bluetooth 4.2 while the iPad Air and iPad mini 2 remain on Bluetooth 4.0.

The move to the newer version could offer several benefits, most notably data transfers at 2.5 times faster than previous versions, meaning speedier over-the-air firmware updates, for example.

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) adopted version 4.2 in December, at the time outlining improved speeds as well as privacy enhancements that mean users need to enable permission for in-store beacons to track their device.

The IoT aspect of the version is that it supports IPv6 for Bluetooth, allowing smart sensors to connect to the internet over the low-powered wireless standard 6LoWPAN.

As some reports suggest, it's possible that Apple has added Bluetooth 4.2 support via a firmware update. But despite Apple's updated specs sheet, it's uncertain whether support for the latest version of Bluetooth will translate into the benefits listed by Bluetooth SIG, since they may be dependent on new hardware.

AppleInsider noted Apple hasn't changed the model numbers for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which leaves open the possibility that Apple may have modified Bluetooth in iOS 9 or built in new chips without changing model numbers. That could mean some iPhone 6 units are capable of higher data-transfer speeds than earlier units.

ZDNet has asked for clarification from Apple and will update the story if it receives a response.

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