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How to Fix Bluetooth Pairing Problems

by on December 17, 2019
in Phones and Mobile, Computers and Software, Phone Accessories, Tips & How-Tos :: 618 comments

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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 10 devices, go to Settings > Connected devices 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 Bluetooth cache (Android only). Sometimes apps will interfere with Bluetooth operation and clearing the cache can solve the problem. Go Settings > System > Advanced> Reset Options > Reset Wi-fi, mobile & Bluetooth. 

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 12/16/2019

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

Discussion loading


One side of the headphone is giving no output

From Santosh Patra on January 21, 2020 :: 4:12 am

One side of the headphone is giving no output



One side of the headphone is giving no output

From Santosh Patra on January 21, 2020 :: 4:13 am

One side of the headphone is giving no output



Please Help

From Adriean Rivera on January 28, 2020 :: 9:14 pm

When i hold down the power button on my headphones, they do not turn on. Ive tried clicking it once, holding it down really long, and combining other buttons. It just won,t turn on. Unless i plug it into the charger. My headphones only turn on and connect while they are on the charger. I have tried to connect it on the charger and then unplugging it to see if it stays connected, but it just turns it off. I’ve tried leaving it to charge all day. It still won’t turn on. I have been searching everywhere and it just tells me gow to connect the bluetooth. It doesn’t tell me how to turn it on. I hope that someone can help because it sucks listening to things with cored headphones that aren’t loud enough. Thanks for your time.



ONN Earbuds Not Recognized by Alcatel 3V Phone

From Ricky Moore on February 03, 2020 :: 7:12 pm

I have a pair of ONN Earbuds that pair fine with every other phone and blue tooth device I have. I also have a nearly identical set which also work with everything I have.

Except my new phone. My new phone will pair with my speakers just fine but it doesn’t even SEE the ONN earbuds. It does not matter what order I turn them on in, what other devices are present, etc. They flat out DO NOT APPEAR in this phone’s Bluetooth setting even though they appear and connect fine with ANY other phone I try. The fact that this is even possible implies to me there is something fundamentally wrong with the way bluetooth wireless is done.

And no, it’s not a backwards-compatibility issue: my earbuds are cheap convenience store disposables (altough they’ve worked for years) and my phone is brand new and cost $200. I always run into this finicky horse-shit with bluetooth, I wish they’d just replace it with something that’s actually plug-and-play and not a mess of errors and security problems.



Bluetooth Problems

From brenda on February 12, 2020 :: 7:34 am

My Panasonic Tv(TH49FX700T) - Bluetooth 3.0
will not pair with my Samsung phone 3.3 and more importantly my new Sony headphones (WH-1000XM 3)  - bluetooth 4.1
what can i do?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.



HELP Deleting phone from Car

From Amy on February 21, 2020 :: 1:35 am

My wife set up her android phone to my Cadillac 2010 DTS.
how do I remove that along with removing her voice And her contacts so I can then pair my phone with my contacts



There are a few ways depend on your setup

From Josh Kirschner on February 21, 2020 :: 4:42 pm

There are a couple different methods depending on which system you have in your Cadillac DTS.

Option #1
Press the push to talk button. Say “Hands Free”, then “Bluetooth”, “Delete” and give the name of the device you want to delete. This should remove the synced contacts, as well. If you don’t know the name of the device, say “Hands Free”, then “Bluetooth”, then “List,” to get the names of any paired devices.

If the system isn’t recognizing your voice for deleting the paired device, one Cadillac owner suggested the following trick in an owners’ forum
Long press the telephone symbol on the mirror for OnStar. A message comes on with options, one option was to change the language. 0 for English, 1 for French, 2 for Spanish. Choose a language and you should get a message that says, “If you change your language all Name Tags will be deleted.” Confirm the language change. Prior devices should be removed and the system should be set to pair with your device.

Option #2 (from Cadillac)
Use your vehicle’s touchscreen to navigate to your vehicle’s “Paired Bluetooth Devices” list (see above). Find the name of the phone you’re having issues with. Select that phone and then delete it from the list of previously paired devices.



pairing Link Dream to GPS and iPhone

From martin johnson on February 21, 2020 :: 10:40 am

I had a LG bluetooth head set connected to my iPhone and Garmin GPS where I could use both at the same time. I just got a Link Dream LC-B41 bluetooth head set. It said you can pair two objects at the same time. When I try to pair both it will only let me pair one at a time. It does work with both at different times. IT says to pair one itum then switch it off then pair the other then switch them both off and then switch them both on and they should be paired. When I do that I loose both bluetooth connections to the ear phone. When it says switch them off does it mean the power . My LG head set worked fine with both. How do I connect my new headset so I can use the both at.



Won’t Connect

From ellen on February 29, 2020 :: 10:18 am

I can’t connect to my speaker it keeps saying that it’s not in range when it’s right next to my phone. I already cleared all the Bluetooth devices and it still won’t connect. Any suggestions?



Why is my output not working

From Ivansu on March 08, 2020 :: 8:30 am

My earphones output is not working but my input is working so what should i do ive tried manythings to make it work but its not working



Why is my output not working, please help!?

From Ivan Su on March 08, 2020 :: 8:34 am

My headphones output is not working but input is. Ive tried many things to make it work but of course it didnt work at the end. What should i do please help




From Deborah Barnes on March 17, 2020 :: 11:38 am

Your advice on reconnecting my phone and cars bluetooth worked awesomely.  Thank you!



bt not paired WILL NOT STOP

From Lavon on March 17, 2020 :: 4:30 pm




Hackers have installed 235 app on my phone I can't get them to stop

From Omar on March 21, 2020 :: 9:41 pm

I have an LG phone I believe it’s a virus or hacker the to my phone but it is ridiculous it’s everyday I delete a whole bunch of apps and in the evening all those apps come back by the morning I have 200 some of the apps in my phone how can I fix this please



Cannot transfer files from tablet to laptop

From PennyPA on March 26, 2020 :: 10:23 am

I’m trying to transfer files from my Samsung tablet to my Lenovo laptop running Windows 10 but BT keeps recognizing my tablet as a phone.  Is this because they’re both Android?  Anyway, it says the tablet is recognized by the laptop and I get a passcode and they’re the same on both devices but I still get the message “Cannot connect to ...”  What am I doing wrong?



My tablet is NOT a phone

From PennyPA on March 26, 2020 :: 10:37 am

To add to my connection problem…It shows a phone next to the Galaxy Tab A in the “Paired” area (on the Lenovo) but my tablet isn’t a phone. And I get the message “audio, media”.  What’s up with that?



Here's how to transfer files via Bluetooth with Windows 10

From Josh Kirschner on March 27, 2020 :: 6:26 pm

Sharing files over Bluetooth with Windows 10 is a somewhat different process than setting up a Bluetooth device for audio. Here’s how to receive files from your phone onto your PC via Microsoft:

1) On your PC, select Start > Settings > devices > Bluetooth & other devices. Make sure your phone appears and shows as Paired.
2) In Bluetooth & other devices settings, select Send or receive files via Bluetooth > Receive files.
3) Send the files from your phone to your PC.
4) On your laptop, on the Save the received file screen in Bluetooth File Transfer, select the location to save the file or files to > Finish.

For more details, see:



Parring problems

From jane on March 26, 2020 :: 4:26 pm

I will get things parred with my Bluetooth on iPhone but they do not stay pared for more than a few minutes?  What am I doing wrong?  Tried with a remote on camera tripod remote and ear buds?


Read More Comments: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

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