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How to Fix Bluetooth Pairing Problems

by on September 13, 2013
in Phones and Mobile, Computers and Software, Phone Accessories, Tips & How-Tos :: 30 comments

Bluetooth is a popular method of wirelessly transferring data between two devices such as your phone and your headphones, your media player and a speaker, or your iPad and a keyboard. It’s one of the most widely used wireless technology in the world, according to Suke Jawanda, chief marketing officer for the Bluetooth Special Interest Group. He says about 2.5 billion Bluetooth products will ship this year alone, and that number will likely double within the next four years.

Bluetooth is all great when it works. But if you’re someone who likes to play around with these kinds of connected gadgets, you know it can be frustrating when there’s a hang-up pairing the two. Here are some common causes of pairing problems as well as advice on what you can do about them.

Why Bluetooth pairings fail

Bluetooth depends on both hardware and software to work properly. Manufacturers such as Apple and Microsoft are increasingly including radios that speak the Bluetooth 4.0 language in their new hardware. But if you have a device — say, a two-year-old phone — that lacks this newer kind of radio, you won’t be able to connect with devices that only support Bluetooth 4.0.

When I recently tested a slew of sport watches, my Samsung Galaxy Nexus, which has a Bluetooth 3.0 radio, couldn’t connect with the Mio Alpha, an innovative device that monitors your heart rate without the need for a chest strap. My husband’s iPhone 5 was able communicate with the Mio Alpha, however, because every iPhone since the iPhone 4S is Bluetooth Smart Ready.

The good news, Jawanda tells me, is that most phones that have shipped over the last 18 months have a dual radio that communicates with Bluetooth Smart Ready devices as well as those equipped for previous versions of Bluetooth. So if your current phone isn’t Bluetooth Smart Ready, your next one probably will be.

But even if my phone did have the right kind of radio for Bluetooth 4.0, my current operating system, Android 4.2.2, doesn’t support Bluetooth Smart. Android users won't be able to use Bluetooth 4.0 until they get Android 4.3 (assuming they have the right hardware). 


Devices also come with specific Bluetooth profiles. If Bluetooth is the common language connecting devices, you can think of a profile as a dialect associated with a certain use. For example, you probably aren't going to be able to connect a mouse and a camera because a camera doesn’t support the Human Interface Device Profile. But if both a mobile phone and a wireless headset support the Hands-Free Profile, you should be able to pair them.

However, if the pairing failure is a matter of user error, there are steps you can take to get your devices happily communicating with each other.

What you can do about pairing failures

1. Determine which pairing process your device employs. The process for pairing devices can vary. Sometimes, for example, it involves tapping a code into your phone. Other times, you need to physically touch your phone to the device you want to pair it with; for example, the Sony SmartWatch 2 uses NFC (near field communication) in combination with Bluetooth for pairing. Or in the case of the Nike+ FuelBand, you only have to hold down a button on the watch to pair it with an iPhone.

If you’re not sure how to pair a device, refer to its user guide; you can usually find one by searching online.

2. Make sure Bluetooth is turned on. You should see the little Bluetooth symbol at the top of your phone’s screen. If you don’t, go into the settings to enable it.

3. Turn on discoverable mode. Let’s say you want to pair your phone with your car’s infotainment system so you can enjoy hands-free calling, texting and navigation. First, go into your phone’s settings and tap on Bluetooth; doing so makes the phone visible to the car. Then depress the buttons on your car's infotainment system, usually on the steering wheel or center stack, to get it looking for the device.

Once it finds your phone, the car will display a numeric code you need to confirm or input on your phone. After you do so, the devices should be paired. Keep in mind your phone will only stay in discoverable mode for a few minutes; if you take too long, you’ll need to start over.

4. Power the devices off and back on. A soft reset sometimes can resolve an issue. With phones, an easy way to do this is by going into and out of airplane mode.

5. Delete a device from a phone and rediscover it. If your phone sees a device but isn’t receiving data from it, sometimes it helps to start from scratch. In iOS settings, you can remove a device by tapping on its name and then Forget this Device. In Android settings, tap on a device’s name, then Unpair. After removing a device, start at step 1 on this list.

6. Make sure the devices you want to pair are designed to connect with each other. Whether it’s a headset, speaker, mouse, keyboard, camera or something else, your device has a specific profile that spells out what it can connect with. If you’re not sure, check the user manual.

7. Download a driver. If you’re having problems pairing something with your PC, you might be lacking the correct driver. The simplest way to figure this out is to do an online search for the name of the device you’re trying to pair along with the word “driver.”



8. Update the hardware’s firmware. Some automotive audio systems recently wouldn’t pair with the iPhone 5, for example, because the Bluetooth drivers in these systems didn’t work with Bluetooth 4.0. If you’re not sure how to get the latest firmware for your hardware, check with the device manufacturer.

9. Make sure the two devices are in close enough proximity to one another. While you wouldn’t think someone might try to pair an iPad with a keyboard if the two weren’t sitting right next to each other, it’s probably worth noting that you should make sure any devices you're trying to pair are within five feet of one other.

10. Keep in mind that not all wireless devices use Bluetooth. Alternatives include the Wireless Gigabit specification, Wireless HD, ANT+, ZigBee, NFC as well as Wi-Fi Direct. These other technologies typically won’t work with your phone, tablet or PC, Jawanda notes, without some kind of additional hardware.


We hope this guide has helped you with your Bluetooth pairing problems. If you know of any tip we've missed, share in the comments below!

Our Top PIcks

The Best Bluetooth Headset - Plantronics Voyager Legend

Plantronics Voyager Legend In-ear Bluetooth Headset

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Discussion loading

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Adding contacts onto bluetooth

From Ray on September 13, 2013 :: 9:26 am

Need to know how to download all my contacts onto my vehicle device - Bluetooth.

Reply

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Other Bluetooth Devices

From Lynda Wolfertz on September 13, 2013 :: 9:46 am

I have an HP wireless printer/scanner/fax that stopped working.  The troubleshooter says that the wireless radio is not working.  The printer works just fine when it is plugged into my computer via USB cord. Is it possible that is became unpaired with my computer??  How do I check? Any other suggestions?? It seems so wasteful to have to replace an otherwise perfect printer…it’s only 3 years old!!

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Could be a number of things

From Suzanne Kantra on September 16, 2013 :: 8:59 am

That sounds like a WiFi issue, rather than Bluetooth, and I would really need to know more about why it’s not working. Can you not turn on the printer’s WiFi? Does it turn but not see your WiFi network? Does it connect to your WiFi network but your computer can’t see it?

If it is similar to my HP printer, there is a “Wireless Setup Wizard” in the Network setup menu that may help you get reconnected if it’s only an issue with your network settings.

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Thanks

From carmenza Anton on February 07, 2014 :: 4:29 am

Thank you so much I just bought a iPhone and the people in the store tried for a long time to pair it with my BlueAntST3 that I adored They couldn’t I followed your instructions and I did it I was ready to retune the phone. A prayer helps as well
Thank you so much.!!

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bluetooth

From gaurav singh on December 06, 2013 :: 11:06 pm

i have normal phone in which i can.t take files from others phone using bluetooth but i can send files

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pairing problem with trellie

From Kenny Hynes on December 25, 2013 :: 9:21 am

I followed instructions correctlyfrom the manual and video instructions and still doesnt pair with my samsung galazy 3

Reply

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bluetooth

From Danni Tate on January 01, 2014 :: 5:05 am

I have recently bought a bluetooth hifi system. At the same timeI purchased a bluetooth dongle. I go through the set up and all works well. The next time I use Iit I have to go through the whole process of forgetting the device and reconfiguring it again to use it. What am I doing wrong

Reply

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Pairing iPhone5s with Pioneer Car Stereo

From Carla Akkari on January 07, 2014 :: 4:12 pm

I’ve recently purchase a Pioneer Car Stereo DEH-X4650BT and I was able to pair the Bluetooth with my iPhone4 easily and use the handsfree but am unable to pair it using my iPhone 5s. Any suggestions? Have tried doing it with and without the USB cable. The phone recognises the stereo but it is unable to pair.

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bluetooth

From Bubba Boyd on January 31, 2014 :: 5:32 pm

I recently got a brand new next book tablet and it doesn’t show that it has Bluetooth on it anywhere what do I do to get it

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Not easy

From Josh Kirschner on January 31, 2014 :: 5:55 pm

If your tablet doesn’t come with built-in Bluetooth (and it looks like most, if not all, of the Nextbook tablets do not), there’s no way to add it. Someone may have an external bluetooth USB adapter for Android (does your tablet have a USB port?), but I’m having trouble finding one. If you do find one, buy it from someplece you can return it, because I’m guessing there’s a good chance it won’t work consistently or at all.

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klipsch kmc3 not connetcing

From yhurmmy on February 03, 2014 :: 3:25 am

had klipsch kmc3 speaker and it has been working perfect,but all of a sudden the bluetooth stop working ,cant pair with it any longer .

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Connecting Samsung Dual Sim to Car Stereo

From Henrique on February 07, 2014 :: 1:51 pm

I have a Dual Sim fone Samsumg GT-C 3752, that I pair ro my car’s stereo Medianav.
Most of the times I’m able to pair them, but the connection will sometime break, might take a few or several minutes.
Why is this happening?
With my girfriend’s Nokia phone connection with Medianav never breaks… So I then know that it’s everything OK with the car’s stereo.

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problem after pair

From shalem simon on February 14, 2014 :: 11:22 am

I have Samsung gt-i8552 & Sony xperia
C2305 bt, both pairing each other, I can send file sony to Samsung and receive but i m no abel to send Samsung to Sony…

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Bluetooth phone can not detect other phones

From farhad on February 14, 2014 :: 11:34 am

hi dear
Bluetooth phone is turned on and discover is checked but can not detect other phones
and other phone can not detect this phone
please help me - thanks

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my Xperia z1 won't detect other blutooth

From Ahmed on March 30, 2014 :: 8:47 pm

How can I set my Xperia z1 to detect other blutooth nearby

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Samsung Galaxy Core won't play when connected to Bose Soundlink

From Lito V on March 05, 2014 :: 11:42 pm

Samsung Galaxy Core won’t play when connected to Bose Soundlink mini, Phone states: “Connected” but the player stays at 00:00 seconds and don’t play at all. any advice? Do I need to DL new drivers?

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If it's connected, it's not

From Suzanne Kantra on March 06, 2014 :: 10:33 am

If it’s connected, it’s not a Bluetooth profile problem. Is the Soundlink connected to any other device? If so, make sure it’s disconnected. If not, I’d “forget” the Soundlink on your Core and then repair with the SoundLink.

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yes It's Connected...

From Lito V on March 06, 2014 :: 8:07 pm

yes it’s connected says the Core but the player wont move forward it’s as if its on PAUSE, I tried to connect to my Onkyo receiver with bluetooth its just the same thing. I turned off every other bluetooth around, as you see my iphone, sony ericsson and the galaxy tab and samsung dous worked well with both Onkyo Receiver and the Bose speaker. It could only be the Core’s problem, I tried googlin around and I found out that core has vers.4 bluetooth while the others has Vers.3 could this be the answer to all of these?

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Bluetooth 4 vs. Bluetooth 3

From Suzanne Kantra on March 07, 2014 :: 9:50 am

Bluetooth 4 vs. Bluetooth 3 isn’t the issue. What app are you using to play audio and is it the same app you’re using on your other Bluetooth devices?

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The app im using is

From Lito V on March 07, 2014 :: 9:54 pm

The app im using is winamp and PowerAmp so as the built in players, it all work fine with the other phones and tabs only the core wont play

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connecting 2 headsets

From Dave Price on March 11, 2014 :: 4:05 am

My wife and I each have bluetooth headsets in our motorcycle helmets and want to connect to a Samsung tablet to listen to music as well as for use as an intercom. The instructions say only one can connect at a time. Is there any way around this?

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I know that there are

From Suzanne Kantra on April 10, 2014 :: 12:45 pm

I know that there are speakers that can simultaneously pair to a device. That type of support, though, is something that the speaker manufacturer implements. So in your case, the helmet manufacturer would have to implement it. If you haven’t asked the helmet manufacturer already, that would be my first step.

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phone contacts not paired with vehicle bluetooth

From Gary A on March 17, 2014 :: 12:44 pm

I have a 2008 BMW X5 and a Samsung Galaxy S3 cell phone.  I can pair the audio from the phone but I am not able to pair the cell phone’s contact list.  A popup screen comes up on the phone asking if I want to pair the contacts.  I tap OK, the screen goes away and momentarily comes back with the same popup screen asking if I want to pair the contacts.  I am not able to get my contacts to pair with my vehicle’s bluetooth,

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Only some contact paired

From Peter on March 17, 2014 :: 3:37 pm

Having made many attempts to pair phone and car( both new) only 17 of the 49 contacts have been paired. Even the garage and shop cannot understand why

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Razr M with Sony BT Mex 3100

From Elliot on March 22, 2014 :: 2:14 am

I recently bought a Razr M phone and it won’t sync with my Sony BT Mex 3100 car stereo.  Have you heard of any problems between the two syncing?

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Bluetooth headset for Samsung Galaxy S3 and Windows 7

From Ajith Silva on March 28, 2014 :: 7:07 am

Can anyone help find a Bluetooth Headset that support for a Samsung Galaxy S3 and Windows 7?

Reply

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Plantronics Voyager Legend

From Josh Kirschner on March 28, 2014 :: 7:38 am

Our top pick, the Plantronics Voyager Legend, should work fine with both a GS3 and Windows 7. You can read our review here: http://www.techlicious.com/review/the-best-bluetooth-headset/

Reply

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Bluetooth headset for Samsung Galaxy S3 and Windows 7

From Ajith Silva on March 28, 2014 :: 7:47 am

Hi Josh,

Thanks for your quick reply. This is for one of my friends. I will let him know and come back to you if it works for him.

Reply

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car bluetooth phone hangs

From ishan on April 10, 2014 :: 11:14 am

Hi. I am using sony xav70bt 2din player in my car. The problem with this is while using as a BT phone, to make voice calls, after disconnecting call it hangs. It shows incoming call / with held messages on screen and a call dial animation though call is already disconnected in phone. Any solution for this. Device works properly with my non android mobile. Also, if call disconnects without answering there is no issues.

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Pairing with handsfree

From Gaby on April 16, 2014 :: 5:28 am

I have a new 809T smartphone.
It identifies the car handsfree (comf_comp VT05a)but when trying to pair with it, I get the following message, even without being prompted to enter a PIN:
“Couldn’t pair with comf_comp VT05a because of an incorrect PIN or passkey.”
When tapping the handsfree tag on the phone in order to enter the handsfree menu, there is no menu.
The smartphone connects correctly to my laptop and when tapping the laptop tag I get a menu from which I can can cancel the connection.

I there any fix to this problem?
Thanks,
Gaby

Reply

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