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How to Fix Bluetooth Pairing Problems

by on December 26, 2018
in Phones and Mobile, Computers and Software, Phone Accessories, Tips & How-Tos :: 525 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 the Bluetooth Special Interest Group. More than 4 billion Bluetooth products are expected to ship last in 2018 alone, and that number will likely almost double within the next three 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. So if your devices can't speak a common Bluetooth language, they won’t be able to connect.

In general, Bluetooth is backward compatible: Bluetooth devices supporting the Bluetooth 5 standard should still be able to pair with devices using, say, the ancient Bluetooth 2.1, launched back in 2007.

The exceptions are gadgets that use a low-energy version called Bluetooth Smart, which works on a different protocol than older, or "Classic" Bluetooth devices. Bluetooth Smart devices are not backward compatible and won't recognize (or pair with) older devices that support Classic Bluetooth. (For example, an old Sony Ericsson phone sporting Bluetooth 3.0 won't be able to connect to a Bluetooth Smart device.)

However, if a device supports Bluetooth 4.0 (in some cases), 4.2 (in most cases) or 5.0 (in most cases), it should recognize both Bluetooth Smart and Classic. Bluetooth 4.0 devices will be officially labeled Bluetooth Smart Ready. In the case of Bluetooth 4.2 and 5, it's expected.

Gadgets that commonly use Bluetooth Smart include personal health gadgets such as fitness bands or heart-rate monitors. These gadgets will only pair with a smartphone or tablet that also uses Bluetooth Smart – or are Bluetooth Smart Ready.

Most smartphones are Bluetooth Smart compatible. That includes iPhones running iOS 7 and newer, Android phones running 4.3 or newer, Windows Phone 8.1 devices, and all BlackBerry 10 devices. Ensure your phone is running the latest version of its operating system – but if your device isn't new enough to run relatively current software, you may not be able to pair it with that fitness band.

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. 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.

2. 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 can just physically touch your phone to the device you want to pair it with (you'll see this option with phones and devices that have NFC, or Near Field Communications, as a feature. It's commonly found on Android phones). Or in the case of the Bose SoundLink, you only have to hold down a button on the speaker to pair it with a phone.

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

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 may ask for 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 or your car may only stay in discoverable mode for a few minutes; if you take too long, you’ll need to start over.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. Remove old Bluetooth connections. Say that faithful Bluetooth speaker usually connects to your partner's smartphone instead of yours. If you're having trouble pairing your phone with the speaker, it could be because the speaker is trying to connect to the old device. Some older devices are very simple. They just try to connect with the last thing they paired with. If a Bluetooth device was previously paired with something else, turn off that other gadget. And if you are no longer planning on using that other gadget, unpair it from your Bluetooth device to prevent future issues. 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.

You can also reset Bluetooth on devices that can pair to more than one device. This clears all pairings from the device so you can start fresh. Search "reset" device name to instructions from the manufacturer.

7. Charge up both devices you're trying to pair. Some devices have smart power management that may turn off Bluetooth if the battery level is too low. If your phone or tablet isn't pairing, make sure it and the device you're trying to pair with have enough juice.

8. 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.

9. Get away from the Wi-Fi router. Another potential obstacle to successful pairing is interference from devices that use the same spectrum, such as your Wi-Fi router. Wi-Fi has been designed to cope with this, but it might not be a good idea to have your devices directly on top of the router.

10. Move away from a USB 3.0 port. Interference from USB 3.0 is also possible. Newer laptops, for example, often have the higher-speed USB 3.0 port, so if the connection isn't happening, try pairing your Bluetooth gadgets away from the computer.

11. 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.

12. 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.”

13. Update the hardware’s firmware. Some automotive audio systems have been known to not pair with phones 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.

14. Limit data shared between devices. Android and Windows devices let you choose the information you share between devices. So, for instance, you can choose to share phone audio, media audio, contacts and text messages with your car. If you don't need to share all of the data, deselecting one or more of the types of information may enable the devices to pair. 

For Android devices, go to Settings > Bluetooth and select the device. If there are options to select, they will appear. For Windows, go to Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Devices and Printers and right click on the Bluetooth device in question. Then select the Services tab to choose which types of information to share.

15. Clear the Blutooth cache (Android only). Sometimes apps will interfere with Bluetooth operation and clearing the cache can solve the problem. Go Settings > Backup and restart > Reset network settings. 

Not all wireless devices use Bluetooth

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 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!

Updated on 12/26/2018

[Image credits: Bluetooth searching for networks vis BigStockPhoto, Bluetooth devices with phone via Shutterstock]

Discussion loading

My headphones have been connected before but arent

From Sam Blanch on March 23, 2019 :: 4:42 pm

So im trying to connect my headphones to my phone like i always do and they always connect but this time they arent, there full battery, visible and turned on please help



Unable to pair android samsung galaxy s5 with Toyota 2013 Kluger

From Rob Woodbridge on April 15, 2019 :: 2:43 am

Hi there, I have tried to pair these 2 items and download contacts from Phone. No Go . I entered 1 mobile number directly into car phone system and could ring it out but the other party would pick it up and couldn’t hear me talk back.

Surely there is an easier way. I have probably over 800 contacts work and private so need them all on.
Even toyota dealership could not make heads or tails of it.

Kind regards




From Helen on April 15, 2019 :: 8:09 am

HI I want to buy some tws earbuds which are V5.0 Bluetooth and my phone has V4.2 Bluetooth. I have asked several of the sellers if they will function properly with V4.2 Bluetooth mobile phone but I have received conflicting replies,so I’m none the wiser, can you please tell me if they would be compatible. Thx




From mary on April 17, 2019 :: 4:17 pm

Trying to get brydge keyboard to connect with IPAD. Bluetooth on IPAD is on but can’t use keyboard.




From Faridah on April 18, 2019 :: 8:35 am

I tried tips no 5 and it works. Tried ON and OF my Handphone and bluetooth OFF ON button but its still not working but when I tried OFF and ON airplane mode it works..great ..thank you very much



888a Gems Earbud won't connect to Bluetooth

From Carlina on April 19, 2019 :: 11:34 pm

I tried connecting to the Bluetooth but it won’t work. The earbuds is saying “connect successfully” but there is no name popping up on the Bluetooth list. The type phone I have is LG Fortune 2. Can you please help???



Are you sure they're not connected to something else?

From Josh Kirschner on April 23, 2019 :: 6:12 pm

I’ve had this happen when my headphones pair with my laptop instead on my phone. Are you sure they’re not connecting to another device?



i once paired my bluetooth

From brooke on April 26, 2019 :: 7:12 am

i once paired my bluetooth headphones to my galaxy s9 and i unpaired them and now the wont reconnect



Amplify Fusion wireless headphones

From Hester Fourie on May 01, 2019 :: 9:25 am

Worked fine with my phone. Accidentally press “M” and put on FM. Now I can use headset but a irritating buzz goes off every few seconds. Batteries fully charged.???



Won't stay connected

From Krystal on May 06, 2019 :: 3:56 am

I bought a Bluetooth speaker from home Depot called the VR3 Bluetooth megaspeaker bass booster portable Power bank.
Model VR650BBPB

For some reason I can connect to it but I when. I go to play the music it plays for a split then turns off from Bluetooth mode again I tried resetting it but no luck please help



not showing??

From anon on May 22, 2019 :: 9:01 pm

so my phone and my beats x used to connect with each other. however, earlier, i tried to connect them but my beats disappeared from my previously connected devices and it won’t show up on unpaired devices!! what do i do if it won’t even let me forget the device?



International Pairing

From Susan on May 23, 2019 :: 1:38 pm

I have been trying to pair a US iPad with a Mexican credit card reader without success. Is there something “geographic” about Bluetooth connections? I changed the iPad to. Mexican based iTunes address but that hasn’t helped. Anyone have any suggestions?



There is no geographic Bluetooth restriction

From Josh Kirschner on May 24, 2019 :: 8:56 am

There is nothing inherent in Bluetooth that would restrict a US device from connecting with a device from Mexico. Sounds like a general Bluetooth pairing issue of some type. Though it’s hard to say without knowing more about the device and pairing process you’re going through.



Lg Bluetooth headphones quit pairing with iphone suddenly

From Tracie Conant on June 04, 2019 :: 10:22 am

My Lg wireless headphones quit pairing with my Iphone7 suddenly after charging the headphones. I can’t get the phone to recognize the headphones at all. How do I fix this? These are my favorite headphones.



Did you follow advice above?

From Josh Kirschner on June 04, 2019 :: 12:04 pm

Our tips above usually fix these pairing issues. Try numbers 6 & 8 first for the problem you’re having.



Yes I did

From Tracie Conant on June 20, 2019 :: 10:33 am

I tried both of these right away before asking for help. I think my headphones are junk. The blue light that says they are on and connected stays on even when they are off. They wouldn’t work at all though.


6S Bluetooth headphones not connecting to pc

From David Freestone on June 07, 2019 :: 7:38 am

I recently purchased a pair of 6S Just Do It Bluetooth headphones from a charity shop?
I then ordered a Bluetooth dongle for my pc?
The headphones pair successfully with both my iPhone 5 and iPad 2, no problem there.
I installed all of the up do date Bluetooth drivers for my pc.
I then switched on the headphones after a 12 hour charge, the lights flashed, i got the audio message saying that Bluetooth was now ready to be connected.
Unfortunately my pc did a search for new devices and couldn’t find my headphones?
I was wondering if i had done something wrong or is there a follow up procedure i should have done?
Please can you help me with this problem, i really would like to use these headphones?
Many thanks



Ear Buds

From Jim Pinelli on June 11, 2019 :: 3:04 pm

I’ve been searching the Internet and YouTube to see if your beds are compatible with my fire smart TV. I have tried several different options and how to connect it with out success. Is it because they are earbuds and they have to be




From Wanderer83 on June 17, 2019 :: 7:42 pm

I’m needing a 4 digit passcode to connect?! Tried 0000,1111,1234,9999…..



Can't pair Fitbit Ionic and Creative Outlier Air headphones

From Michael O Mahony on June 18, 2019 :: 4:12 am

Having a problem connecting Fitbit Ionic and Creative Outlier Air bluetooth headphones. I also tried with i7sTWS bluetooth headphones but neither of them will connect. The fitbit discovers both of them and can obviously sees them but pairing (and the constant wheel spinning) continues without success. With the Creative headphones i hear “connected” through the headset and then about 5 seconds later “disconnected” I have logged a call with Fitbit on their community and also through their “help” on the website but they tell me that they’re investigating and insist that it’s not a ploy to get me to buy their “recommended” headset. Both headphone sets work with my phone and other bluetooth enabled devices so I know that the headphones are working. Any help would be greatly appreciated…



Volume Issues

From puzzled on June 20, 2019 :: 9:44 am

Have a landscape speaker that syncs up with both my phone and I pod via Bluetooth. However, although the volume with the phone is working properly, the volume on the I pod is barely audible even with the volume turned all the way up. Any suggestions?


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