Cellular, Zigbee, Wi-Fi, and More: What Does It Mean To Deliver True Compatibility Regardless of Technology?

Digi International
May 12, 2017

True compatibility is a combination of common hardware and software interfaces that are future-proof and provide design flexibility. Digi XBee offers true compatibility with a common footprint and common APIs:

Common Footprint

In one compact design footprint, Digi XBees give our customers access to multiple wireless protocols and RF frequencies including Cellular, Zigbee®, 802.15.4 and Wi-Fi. This flexibility lowers manufacturing and engineering costs and offers OEMs the ability to quickly expand their roadmap and adapt to different frequencies and protocols for different regions of the globe.

Common Pinouts

Common footprints mean more than just a shared physical design. All Digi XBee modules use the Digi XBee pin signal layout standard. This means that all Digi XBees share the same electrical connections for maximum interchangeability.

Common API and AT Interface

Digi XBee devices can configure their local serial connections in several different ways. The XBee "operating mode" establishes the way the host device communicates with an XBee through its serial interface. These modes are standardized across all XBee devices.

Digi XBee modules support two different operating modes, which are consistent across all the different technology variants:

  • Application Transparent ("Transparent mode")
  • Application Programming Interface ("API mode")

Transparent Mode

Digi XBees operate in this mode by default. The device acts as a simple, plug n play serial line replacement when it is in Transparent operating mode. The device queues all serial data it receives through the RX/DIN pin for RF transmission to its configured remote destination. When a device receives RF data from a remote device, it sends the data out through the TX/DOUT pin.


  • Provides a simple interface that makes it easy to get started with Digi XBee.
  • Easy for an application to support; what you send is exactly what other modules get, and vice versa.
  • Works very well for two-way communication between Digi XBee devices.

API Mode

API mode is a frame-based protocol that allows you to direct data on a packet-by-packet basis. The host device communicates UART data in packets, also known as API frames. This mode allows for structured communications between computers and microcontrollers, and the Digi XBee.

The advantages of API operating mode include:

  • It is easier to send information to multiple destinations
  • The host receives the source address for each received data frame
  • The host can receive a delivery status for each transmitted frame
  • Parameter changes can be accomplished without entering Command mode

True Compatibility

With these common hardware and software interfaces, integrating a true Digi XBee socket provides two essential advantages to an OEM design:

  1. Future-proof: Digi XBee will continue to maintain consistency as we add support for new technologies, protocols, and frequencies. This means less software and hardware work for OEM developers when they are asked to add new features into their products and services.
  2. Flexibility: Its quick and easy to drop in different technologies, protocols, and frequencies to expand your roadmap and address new markets or regions.

With the largest selection of global protocols, standard interfaces, design flexibility, mission-critical security and a future-proof footprint, Digi XBee is the best choice for bringing a communications solution to market in record time.

>>Learn how to buy a Digi XBee Cellular Development Kit today with six months of free data.