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WiFi Tethering - How to Use Your Phone as a Mobile Hotspot
March 6, 2020
We’ve all been there. You need reliable WiFi to finish a work assignment, play Fortnite with your friends, or stream a new movie, but you can’t get a good connection. Did you know that your phone has a powerful feature called WiFi tethering that makes it possible for you to connect to an online network?
In this guide, we outline how you can use WiFi tethering to connect to your phone’s cellular network, as well as how the mobile hotspot function works and what kind of data plan you should have to use it.
Picking the right data plan for a mobile hotspot device
Before you begin the process of connecting to a hotspot, you should be familiar with your existing data plan and whether you have enough bandwidth to support your planned activity. You should also keep in mind that the data plan you have for your cell phone can directly impact your download and upload speeds.
Know your data cap
Some cellular plans have data caps. Even if you have “unlimited” data, you may still face “throttling” after a certain limit that slows down your high-speed data connection. This can make it more difficult to enjoy certain activities such as streaming videos and playing games. For many plans, this cap is around 15GB to 20GB, but it depends on the provider.
Consider bigger plans
If you plan to use your phone as a mobile hotspot often, then it may be worth investing in an unlimited plan or a mobile hotspot plan. Many of the major cellular providers offer plans that are created specifically for those who use their phone’s mobile hotspot feature often. These generally cost more than typical plans, so check your data usage and cost at the end of the billing cycle. It may be worth a call to customer service to see what your plan includes.
When a basic plan works
If you plan to use WiFi tethering with your device only once or twice a month, then a more basic plan should be perfectly fine for these circumstances. It really boils down to how much data you plan to use. Keep in mind, too, that a larger device like a tablet will likely use more data than your phone because images and videos are less compressed.
How to use your mobile device for WiFi tethering
How you will use your phone as a tethering device will depend on what type of phone you have. The two major types (Apple and Android) have a slightly different way to connect to devices. Since Android and iPhone phones are the main options on the market today, we’ll discuss how you can connect each of these devices.
1. Creating a WiFi hotspot from an Android phone
You can access Android’s hotspot app in a few different places on your phone. You’ve likely seen it on the “quick settings” section along with the Airplane mode, Mobile data, and Flashlight settings. That’s the simplest way to start the process of creating a hotspot, but you can also make changes within the Settings app itself.
It just takes a few steps to take to complete WiFi tethering from your Android phone to your device:
- Open the Settings app
- Choose the Network & internet icon. From there, you will see a list of choices relating to your cellular plan and other information
- Open Hotspot & tethering
- Choose WiFi hotspot. You can now make alterations to your cellular settings by changing your network name, password, the type of security you want, and more
- Turn on your hotspot
- Start up your device and look for the WiFi network that you just created
While this is the simplest way to get connected with an Android device, you have the option of using a third-party app if necessary. Also, if you have an older phone, the above process may be the only way for you to create a mobile hotspot. Only newer phones tend to allow for third-party app support, and some of the more popular options include “PdaNet+” and “Portable Wi-Fi hotspot.”
2. Creating a WiFi hotspot from an iPhone
WiFi tethering from an iPhone can also vary depending on which operating system you have installed, so it’s worth checking for updates before you get started.
Follow these steps to manage your connection:
- Open your Control Center on your iPhone X, XS, XR, and 11 phone by dragging the top of your phone down. On an older model, swipe up from the bottom of your screen
- Touch and hold the block of the four icons that include Airplane mode, WiFi, and Bluetooth until the larger menu appears
- From there, you will see a screen that includes other settings, such as AirDrop and Personal Hotspot
- Click on the Personal Hotspot app and your phone will become “discoverable” to other devices
You can also turn your iPhone into a hotspot by going into the settings. This method allows you to access the advanced settings for your network. You can change the password, rename the network, allow others to join your hotspot, and more.
- Open the Settings app
- Choose Personal Hotspot below the Mobile Data/Cellular Data option. Your phone will automatically serve as a hotspot once this is chosen
- You now have a number of choices you can make when customizing your network such as “Share Personal Hotspot with members of Family Sharing” and “Allow Others to Join” Choose the latter option if you plan to connect any of your devices without a password
- If you’re planning to share your hotspot and already approved Family Sharing, those people should automatically be able to join. Just remember to share your password if you set one
WiFi tethering on your phone is a simple way to connect all your favorite devices. After you determine the best data plan for your needs and you follow the steps we outlined, you’ll be ready to work and play wherever you want just as long as you have a cellular connection.
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About the Author: Daniel Horowitz is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Daniel is a New York-based author and has written for publications such as USA Today, Digital Trends, Unwinnable Magazine, and many other media outlets.