iBeacon and BLE hardware: a commercial comparison

ibeacon ble hardware comparison

iBeacon was announced by Apple in June 2013.  Since then, a number of companies developed iBeacon compatible emitter devices.  We’ve collated the most-comprehensive overview of commercially available iBeacon hardware.  Our analysis includes:

There are also BLE4.0 beacon devices which only support proprietary protocols. They report to work with iOS devices but they do not utilse Apple’s iBeacon stack.  This currently includes:

There’s also devices like Tile (www.thetileapp.com) but the feature set is designed for consumer object tracking and devices are not available until summer 2014.

For this post, we’re skipping BLE companion device options.  If interested, here are some of our favorite companion devices:

 

Side by side comparison

Note this comparison is as at 15 January 2014.  Specifications can and will change.

StickNFind

Estimote

RedBearLabs

KST

Qualcomm

GeLo

Device

3 year  beacon

Estimote beacon

Beacon B1

Particle

Gimbal beacon

Beacon

Availability

now

Developer edition now,

production unknown

now

now

Developer edition now,

production unknown

Developer edition now, production unknown

Retail cost each

$25.00 US (1)

$33.00 US (2)

$30.00 US (3)

$60.00 US

unknown

$35.00 US (4)

Hardware

iBeacon protocol supported

yes

yes

yes

yes

yes

no

Other beacon protocol supported

S-beacon

n/a

n/a

n/a

Gimbal

GeLo

Form factor

24mm x 24mm x 7mm

55mm x 39mm x 18mm

25mm x 70mm x 18.3mm

65mm x 35mm x 35 mm

unknown

76mm x 45mm x 19mm

Housing type

Plastic, waterproof

Silicon, waterproof casing

Plastic, unknown if weather resistant

Plastic, unknown if weather resistant

Plastic, weather resistant

Plastic, weather resistant

Adhesive backing

yes

yes

no

no

unknown

no

Operating temp range

unknown

unknown

unknown

-10c to 65c

unknown

unknown

Power type

battery

battery

battery

battery

battery

battery

Reported operating life

3 years

2 years

1 year

6 months

unknown

2 years

Radio range

50 meters

70 meters

50 meters

50 meters

50 meters

10 meters

Certifications

FCC, CE, AS4268

FCC pending

none reported

FCC, IC

none reported

none reported

Chipset

nRF51822

nRF51822

CC2540

nRF51822

unknown

unknown

Battery type

CR 2032

CR 2450

2 x AAA

CR 2032

CR 2032

2 x AAA

Battery capacity

240 mAh

640 mAh

~1000 mAh

240 mAh

240 mAh

~1000 mAh

Software

Cloud management platform

yes

no

no

no

yes

yes

Firmware updatable

yes, over the air

yes, over the air

yes, over the air

yes, over the air

yes, over the air

unknown

Firmware update secured

yes, encryption challenge

unknown

no, button activated

unknown

yes

unknown

Support encrypted payloads

yes, via s-beacon

no

no

no

yes

unknown

Configurable radio output power

yes

no

yes

no

no

unknown

Configurable measured power (RSSI)

yes

yes

yes

no

yes

unknown

Reportable battery life

yes

yes

yes

unknown

yes

unknown

Default beacon broadcast rate

1000 ms

200 ms

250 ms

unknown

unknown

unknown

Configurable iBeacon advertising interval

yes

no

yes

no

unknown

No

Configurable UUID

yes

yes (5)

yes

yes

unknown

No

Configurable MajorID, MinorID

yes

yes (5)

yes

yes

unknown

No

Sample app

yes

yes

yes

yes

no

yes

iOS SDK

yes

yes

no

no

yes

yes

Android SDK

yes

yes

no

no

yes

no

Developer SDK documentation

basic

mature

none

none

mature

basic

Notes:

  • (1) in packs of two
  • (2) in packs of three
  • (3) in packs of three
  • (4) in packs of two
  • (5) only available for devices running Estimote firmware version 1.9+

What to know more?
Signup for our newsletter or contact us