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How to Fix Bluetooth Pairing Problems

by on December 23, 2017
in Phones and Mobile, Computers and Software, Phone Accessories, Tips & How-Tos :: 376 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 3 billion Bluetooth products that were expected to ship last year 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, announced last year, 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. 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. Power down likely interferers. 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 activate its usual connection. 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.

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 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,” Powell says.

10. Move away from a USB 3.0 port. “Interference from USB 3.0 is also possible,” Powell says. 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 12/23/2017

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



Discussion loading

Bluetooth playing media but not calls

From Paul O'l Barrel Bracewell on October 09, 2017 :: 12:01 pm

Hi i have a bluetooth adapter for my car stereo which connects fine and plays everything except when i make a phone call , can gou help with this

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Thank you

From Sonja Velic on October 27, 2017 :: 8:50 am

It worked with holding the button,

So much better to take initiative and fix it myself instead of waiting for my husband to sort it out.

Your solution empowered me.

Thank you <3

Reply

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Blue tooth isn't recognizing the I spoke my name

From Rachel Trollinger on November 03, 2017 :: 9:39 pm

I pushed and held the button down and said Bluetooth then I said pair then it told me to put the numbers in I did being at said the name associated for the name tag so I did then nothing else would happen to confirm that I spoke my name as the name tag why

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Bluetooth Pair Issues - Phone with Car Stereo

From Upendra Prusty on November 09, 2017 :: 8:42 am

Hi Team,

I read this article, really helpful for Bluetooth users. My case - my new RED MI 4 phone is paired with my car stereo Ford Figo inbuilt stereo, but it disconnects frequently and I can’t take calls now. If I clear Bluetooth cache, then it works for a couple of hours, again same issue.

Looking for help.

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Have you tried wiping the

From Suzanne Kantra on December 22, 2017 :: 3:25 pm

Have you tried wiping the cache partition? To do that, simultaneously press the power and volume up key until you see the logo come up, then let go. Use the volume keys to navigate to Wipe & Reset (use the power button to select), then select Wipe cache. Once the cache is wiped, you can choose to restart your phone.

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won't connect

From Kim on November 12, 2017 :: 9:37 am

I bought a oppo F1S 3 months ago
And for some rereason the Wi-Fi connection and Bluetooth connections stopped working I have tried everything to fix the problem but I can’t
I took the phone back to optus they said that they will have to send it away to get looked at and it would take 3 to 4 weeks I explained that I need a phone I have work children in high school and I work so I need to keep contact with them
The fella then told me to purchase a new phone while I am waiting for my phone to be fixed or to get a new one

I don’t understand why he would think that I would Buy a new phone when I only got that one 3/4 months ago and what was I supposed to do with it after I got mine back
All I want to know is how to fix it

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BT Connectivity issue with Honor 8 Pro

From SDon on November 15, 2017 :: 2:40 am

Hi
For some reason I am unable to connect my Garmin Sports watches with the Honor 8 Pro. The BT pairing code keeps refreshing every second and hence I am unable to key it in before it refreshes again. Finally I get the Connection Timed Out Error. This happens only with the 8 Pro. All other phones I have tried have no issues at all.

Am really frustrated now! Any help in resolving this is highly appreciated.

Here’s a detailed video of the issue as well -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9S4PMhapNo

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Garmin connectivity with Honor8 Pro

From Pankaj Rathi on December 15, 2017 :: 12:59 am

I am facing exactly the same issue. I have tried increasing visibility on the phone but nothing helped.

Reply

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Blue tooth not turning on

From Baig on December 01, 2017 :: 10:22 am

I am having a problem with my tablet’s Bluetooth. It never turns on

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Clear Data

From Dan Kelly on December 05, 2017 :: 12:27 pm

There’s one you missed…

Clear Bluetooth App Data

That is the only thing that seems to work for me.

But, it’s early to tell if my issue is totally fixed.

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scrap bluetooth as a bad idea

From UreKismet on December 10, 2017 :: 6:09 pm

Now that every portable consumable comes bluetooth enabled or compulsory; after this holiday season I expect every human on the planet to take a set against this badly conceived poorly implemented tech.
The only question is will it go the same way as 3d screen and where VR is inevitably headed, or will it because it is inexpensive to implement, merely be relegated to the small print on the tin?
Obviously as anyone who has spent too much time trying to pair two bluetooth devices when neither have the benefit of a gui but each has an accursed ‘multi-function button’ instead, bluetooth has shifted from being a must have selling point to a tech to be avoided.
Under normal circs product engineers would toss bluetooth on the scrapheap where it belongs but it is cheaper and easier to package than 3.5mm cables and the like - & enables at least $50 to be chucked on to recommended retail because device is ‘wireless’ but like most I have found the recharging demands of any bluetooth device to be far from wireless.  A big thankyou also needs be given to those drongos who design their equipment to switch off during recharging (hiya Sennheiser)so that a user has to tolerate considerable downtime with their device.
Bluetooth - whose silly idea was that again?

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Bluetooth pairing request

From Jan on December 18, 2017 :: 7:41 pm

I have successfully paired my Samsung 6 with the Uniden home phone system. But every time I leave range of the home phone and then return to the house with my mobile phone, it asks me to reset the pin.  Every few seconds until I pair up again by physically asking the Uniden phone to find my mobile phone at the same time as entering the pin.  Driving me mad.  I’ve unpaired both but and then re-paired but makes no difference.  When I first set up the phone a month ago it worked well.  No more…Ideas?

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Try clearing Bluetooth cache

From Suzanne Kantra on December 22, 2017 :: 3:16 pm

You can try clearing the Bluetooth cache. To do that, go to Settings > Application Manager and then select Bluetooth. Select Clear cache and then Clear data. Restart your phone when the operation is complete. Hope this helps.

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Clearing Bluetooth cache

From Janine on December 27, 2017 :: 1:32 pm

Hi Suzanne,

Thanks for your tip.  My phone does not seem to allow me to clear cache in the apps manager.  Any other suggestions? 

Many thanks,

Janine

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Bluetooth of Huawei Y6 Pro

From Amilaa on December 23, 2017 :: 11:38 am

I have same problem with y mobile Huawei Y6 pro where i can not connect my wireless bluetooth device and i am unable to connect it.Screen shots of this error are given at http://www.merrychristmashappynewyear2018.com/

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Thank you

From Mandel on December 27, 2017 :: 12:31 am

I was having problem in Bluetooth transmitter for TV. This article helped me solving my problem. I really appreciate for sharing this article.

Thanks

Reply

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Apie wireless earbuds / LG Leon phone

From Jay on January 03, 2018 :: 8:52 pm

The earbuds arn’t even showing up on my phone as an option to connect through bluetooth. This is strange for 2 reasons. One being that it has connected fluently to my phone several times without any problems. And the other reason is that I am able to connect to my PC with windows 10 on it (but not my phone). I just got these this Christmas. the slightest help is much appreciated.

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İtem 8 solved mt bt problem. Thanks

From Peter on January 07, 2018 :: 8:53 am

İten 8 solvedd myy bluetooth issue. Tanks a lott.

Reply

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headphones wont connect

From ava rose goodwalt on January 07, 2018 :: 10:59 pm

i got my vivitar headphones 2 weeks ago and they were working fine untill they stopped pairing to my chrome book. Help!

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Sx 991 Bluetooth

From Adam Rogers on January 15, 2018 :: 3:17 pm

Bluetooth pairs but the mic does not work to receive phone calls or use Google assist.

Reply

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Bluetooth connected but with error "NO PHONE"

From Karthikeyan on January 16, 2018 :: 4:20 am

Hey!  Thanks for the article I was looking for a problem that I faced in Jabra Talk on Lenovo K3 Note. Though the headset was paired and in use, sometimes it get connected with message “NO PHONE” and stops working. i.e. the Phone shows blue tooth headset in connected mode but not able to speak/listen to calls in the headset. The problem got solved by unpairing the headset and restarting the phone and pairing it again. Hope it is helpful to others who face similar problem. Thanks..

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Bluetooth of Huawei Y6 Pro

From Victor on January 17, 2018 :: 3:31 pm

I have same problem with y mobile Huawei Y6 pro where i can not connect my wireless bluetooth device and i am unable to connect it.Screen shots of this error are given at http://www.ivalentinesdayimages.com/

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Bluetooth key board and galaxy tab A

From Blair on January 17, 2018 :: 5:27 pm

I was using it yesterday and now when I go to use it it says it’s “Unable to connect to Bluetooth input device while being used as a Bluetooth input device” what does that mean? I’ve went into settings turned each of them off, and its not working. I’m very confused

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Sounds like your Tab A

From Suzanne Kantra on January 17, 2018 :: 5:54 pm

Sounds like your Tab A thinks the keyboard is being used by another device. Did you only pair the keyboard with the tablet? And what else is your tablet paired with that would be nearby?

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