AirDrop – how to transfer data between smartphones without the Internet

Remember how we used to transfer pictures and songs between two phones? At first there was a slow and inconvenient infrared port, then Bluetooth appeared, which is still actively used today. However, there is the next round of development – Apple called this technology AirDrop. What it is and how to use it, we will tell you in more detail.

AirDrop – what is it
In 2011, Apple first presented technology for fast and secure file transfer between its devices. AirDrop has become a kind of analogue of Wi-Fi Direct – the function allows you to transfer data via Wi-Fi between two devices, and without the need to connect to the Internet or a common router.

As many people know, in older versions of the iPhone, it was not possible to transfer data via Bluetooth. For many, this caused inconvenience, given that on Android it could be done without any problems. The solution was just the AirDrop system.

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The key advantages are uncompressed file transfer (relevant for photo / video), as well as a higher data transfer rate compared to Bluetooth.

You can send almost anything: images, music tracks, contacts, Internet links and even passwords. At the same time, there is no restriction on the size of transferred files anywhere – users easily sent a video of 4-6 GB in size between two iPhones.

However, some limitations are still present. For example, if you try to AirDrop a HEIF photo or HEVC video, they will automatically be converted to the more compatible JPEG or H.264 formats, respectively. This happens if one of the devices does not support these formats.

How the technology works
To use AirDrop, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi must be enabled. Many will ask a logical question, why is Bluetooth needed here if file transfer is declared via Wi-Fi. Here it is necessary to delve a little more into the question of how the transfer works.

As soon as you decide to transfer the file via AirDrop, your smartphone sends out a special BLE broadcast packet via Bluetooth. This is a kind of invitation to communicate that other Apple devices can accept. The package itself contains hashed information about your iCloud.

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What happens next? If the smartphone has the AirDrop mode “For everyone”, then it will respond to this invitation packet and will already establish a connection via the AWDL (Apple Wireless Direct Link) protocol. Now the transfer of any files will go through Wi-Fi. If the “Contacts only” mode is set, then the receiving smartphone will decrypt the information from the BLE package and check if your iCloud contacts have the sent e-mail and phone number, and then establish pairing.
Accordingly, if the receiving side has the “Off” mode, then the gadget simply ignores BLE packets from other devices.

AWDL is such a special Apple add-on over regular Wi-Fi, which is essentially an analogue of Wi-Fi Direct. The add-on creates an IPv6 network between devices, within which AirDrop is already running via the standard IP protocol.

As you can see, Bluetooth is used in AirDrop to pair two smartphones, so in fact, to initiate file transfer, the device must be located in the Bluetooth coverage area, and this directly depends on the installed antenna. Apple themselves recommend a distance of up to 10 meters.

The transfer speed depends on the paired devices. For example, the speed of sending data between two iPhone 12 reaches 50 MB / s (400 Mbps), which is significantly faster than transferring files via Bluetooth. Technically, the maximum transfer rate is limited by the Wi-Fi standard, adjusted for interference.

For example, the iPhone 5 supports 802.11 a / b / g / n standards – maximum Wi-Fi 4 (up to 300 Mbps), while the latest iPhones already support 802.11 ac / ax – Wi-Fi 5 and 6 with maximum speeds up to 866 and 1200 Mbps respectively.

How to use Airdrip
You can transfer files between any Apple gadgets: iPhone, iPad, MacBook and even iPod. First of all, you need to make sure that your device supports AirDrop:

iPhone 5 and newer;
iPod touch 5th generation and later;
iPad 4th generation and later;
Macbook Air and Pro from 2008 and newer.
On both devices, you need to enable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, you can do this in the upper or lower “curtain”, depending on the version of iOS.

Next, on both devices, you need to enable AirDrop. If the user is not in your contacts, then the “Public” mode will suit you. The AirDrop enable icon is located in the block with wireless connections.

On older versions of iOS, the toggle is also in the notification shade. The corresponding toggle switch can also be found in the main settings.

Next, select the desired file (photo, audio, book or other) and click “Share” from the functional menu. Select AirDrop from the dropdown menu. In new versions of iOS, the list of available gadgets will already be displayed at the top. It remains only to specify which device to send the file to.

An important caveat – the receiving device must be with an unlocked screen. A locked iPhone will not be visible in the AirDrop list.

If smartphones are connected to the same AppleID, then the transfer will be automatic. In all other cases, the receiving device must confirm receipt. The phone will display basic file information and a preview.

After transferring files, it is recommended to completely disable AirDrop to save battery.

What to do if AirDrop is not working
Sometimes users encounter problems when trying to transfer files to a smartphone or laptop. We recommend checking the following points:

Is there support on AirDrop devices.
Compatibility – Transferring files from iPhone to some older MacBooks is not possible due to the old Bluetooth specification.
Devices must be in mutual coverage area.
On both gadgets, AirDrop is enabled in the “Public” mode.
The receiving gadget is not locked and has Do Not Disturb turned off.
The receiving smartphone has enough space for the file.
If the problem persists, you may need to restart your device, sign out of your iCloud, reset your network settings, or update your iOS. We recommend that you perform the steps one by one in this order, checking the operation of AirDrop after each.

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AirDrop technology is the easiest and safest way to transfer files between different Apple gadgets. The only conditional drawback is that AirDrop is not suitable for sending information to Android smartphones. Here you will have to use instant messengers or cloud storage.

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