How To Use Your Smartphone as a Wi-Fi Hotspot

Most modern smartphones can be turned into portable Wi-Fi hotspot and other devices, such as a laptop computer, can connect to your phone’s network, via USB tethering or Bluetooth tethering and you can share your device’s Internet connection with them. Follow this guide to get tethering set up on your phone.

Android Phones

System Requirements

The following phones and tablets support tethering and portable hotspots:

  • Galaxy Nexus
  • Nexus 4
  • Nexus 5
  • Nexus 6
  • Nexus 7 (2013)
  • Nexus 7 (2013) LTE
  • Nexus 9
  • HTC One (2013) Google Play edition
  • Samsung G S 4 Google Play edition
  • Sony Z Ultra
  • Moto G Google Play edition
  • HTC One (M8) Google Play edition
  • Android One

I will be discussing the process of tethering on Nexus 5, but the process should be similar on other devices.

 

Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot

  • Open your device’s Settings menu.
  • Under “Wireless & networks”, touch More > Tethering & portable hotspot.

01

  • Tap on “Portable Wi-Fi hotspot” to turn it ON.
    • If your carrier plan allows you to use Mobile Hotspot, you will be taken to the settings screen. If you do not have access to Mobile Hotspot on your plan, a message will open telling you how to add it for your particular carrier.

02

  • You can choose a new name for the hotspot in the “Network Name” field if you prefer.
    • This Name (SSID) that you enter is the name of the network that you will connect to with your other devices.

03

  • If you want a different password, enter a new one in the “Password” field.
    • If you don’t want security, choose None under “Security” but it is highly recommended that you set a password to keep unknown devices from using your data.
  • Use the other device and find the new network name in the list of Wi-Fi options.
  • Select the network and enter the password.

To stop sharing your data connection, tap on “Portable Wi-Fi hotspot” to turn it Off.

 

USB Tethering

USB tethering is not available on computers running Mac OS.

To share your phone or tablet’s Internet connection with another device using USB tethering, follow these steps:

  • Connect your phone or tablet to another device using a USB cable.
  • You might see a USB icon and a notification Connected as a media device or Connected as a camera appear at the top of the screen. For the purposes of tethering, the type of connection doesn’t matter.
  • Open your device’s Settings menu.
  • Under “Wireless & networks”, touch More > Tethering & portable hotspot.
  • Tap on “USB tethering” to turn it On.

04

To stop sharing your data connection, Tap on USB tethering to turn it Off or disconnect the USB cable.

 

Bluetooth Tethering

You can set up your phone or tablet to share its Internet connection using Bluetooth.

  • Turn on your phone or tablet’s Bluetooth under Settings > Bluetooth.
  • Pair your phone or tablet with the other device you want to share an Internet connection with.
  • Set up the other device to get its network connection via Bluetooth.
    • You may need to refer to the documentation that came with that device.
  • On your phone or tablet, go back to the Settings menu.
  • Under “Wireless & networks”, touch More > Tethering & portable hotspot.
  • Tap on “Bluetooth tethering” to turn in On.

05

To stop sharing your data connection, tap on “Bluetooth tethering” again to turn it Off.

 

iOS: iPhone, iPad, and iPad Mini

System Requirements

To use this feature, your wireless carrier must offer Personal Hotspot and your devices must meet certain system requirements.

The table below lists the iPhone and iPad (Wi-Fi + Cellular models) capable of Personal Hotspot and which connections they can use to share cellular data with another device:

 

USB Bluetooth Wi-Fi
iPhone 4 or later  ✓
iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3G*
iPad (3rd generation or later) Wi-Fi + Cellular
iPad mini Wi-Fi + Cellular
* On iPhone 3G, Personal Hotspot is referred to as Internet tethering.

To connect to a Personal Hotspot, your device requires:

  • Wi-Fi: Support for 802.11g/n using WPA2 encryption.
  • USB: Mac or PC with iTunes 9.2 or later installed.
  • Bluetooth: Mac OS X v10.4.11 or Windows.

Carrier requirements

Verify that your carrier supports Personal Hotspot for your device and that you have Personal Hotspot enabled on your cellular plan:

  • iPhone: View a list of carriers that support Personal Hotspot on the iPhone.
  • iPad and iPad mini: Check with your carrier for availability.

 

iOS Personal Hotspot

To use this feature, enable Personal Hotspot on your cellular data plan. Contact your carrier for information and pricing.

Sharing your cellular data connection

Use the following steps to set up Personal Hotspot:

 

  • Tap Settings > Cellular:

Network settings

  • Tap Personal Hotspot and turn it on:

Turn on Personal Hotspot

After configuring Personal Hotspot, you can directly access the settings from Settings > Personal Hotspot.

Note: If you do not see the option for Personal Hotspot, confirm with your carrier that this feature is supported and your wireless plan is configured for Personal Hotspot. For additional troubleshooting, see this article.

Connecting other devices

You can connect your devices to your iPhone, iPad, or iPad mini in the following ways:

Mac or PC iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch Other Wi-Fidevices Connection tips
Wi-Fi Wi-Fi hotspot turns off when no devices are connected. To automatically turn it back on, go to Settings > Personal Hotspot.
Bluetooth Ensure that the other Bluetooth device is discoverable, and use Settings > Bluetooth to pair.
USB Connect your iPhone or iPad (3rd generation) Wi-Fi + Cellular to your Mac or PC using the USB cable that came with your device.
The Wi-Fi network name or Bluetooth name is your device name. The Wi-Fi network is 802.11g/n capable using WPA2 encryption.iPhone 3GS can share a connection with USB or Bluetooth. iPhone 4 or later, iPad (3rd generation) Wi-Fi + Cellular or later, and iPad mini Wi-Fi + Cellular can share a connection using Wi-Fi, USB, or Bluetooth.

While devices are connected to Personal Hotspot, the status bar will be blue and will indicate the number of connected users. The maximum number of supported connections may vary depending on your carrier or iPhone model.

You cannot use your Wi-Fi connection for Internet connectivity while other devices are using Wi-Fi for Personal Hotspot. You can share only a cellular data connection; you cannot share a Wi-Fi connection.

Disconnecting devices

You can disconnect users by turning off Personal Hotspot, unplugging your device, or turning off Bluetooth.

Learn more

Changing your Wi-Fi password

Personal Hotspot Wi-Fi networks require a password. You cannot disable this feature.

You can change your Wi-Fi password by tapping Settings > Personal Hotspot or Settings > Cellular > Personal Hotspot and then tapping the Wi-Fi password.

Turn on Personal Hotspot

Note: Your Wi-Fi password must be at least eight characters long and use ASCII/Unicode characters. Use of non-ASCII characters (Japanese, Russian, Chinese, and so on) will prevent other devices from connecting.

Resources: Google, Apple, WikiHow

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