Hotspot functionality is convenient and perfect for bringing the Internet anywhere you have a cell connection. With a phone hotspot, you can connect a desktop, laptop, or tablet to the Internet for streaming, audio conferencing, or simply surfing the web whenever you like.
That said, using your phone as a hotspot is a little technical, and you need to know how to set up a mobile phone hotspot to take advantage of this feature. If you don’t know where to start, read on. Let us take you through how to use your cell phone as a hotspot step-by-step.
How Can You Set Up a Phone Hotspot for Apple Devices?
Apple devices, such as iPhones or Apple tablets, allow you to set up hotspots reasonably simply and with a straightforward process if you have a phone plan that includes a hotspot feature. To configure a phone hotspot on an Apple device:
- Tap Settings on your home screen
- Tap Cellular (note that this step might need to be skipped depending on which iOS version you are on)
- Tap Personal Hotspot
- Locate Allow Others To Join, which should look like a slider
- Tap that slider so others can join your phone’s hotspot
You should contact your cell carrier if you don’t see an option for a Personal Hotspot. Certain cell carriers may prevent you from making a hotspot unless you have hotspot data in your plan or subscription.
Personal Hotspot Use on Apple Devices
Knowing how to use your phone as a hotspot is only half the battle. You also need to understand how to connect a device to a personal hotspot produced by an Apple device like an iPhone.
You can follow three sets of instructions depending on how you want to connect a device, like a laptop or desktop, to a phone hotspot.
If you plan to connect via an internet connection, open the interface of the device you want to connect to (the device making the dedicated mobile hotspot network) and follow these instructions:
- Tap Settings
- Tap Cellular
- Tap Personal Hotspot
Make sure that the hotspot is on. Make sure that the Wi-Fi password and name of the phone are what you think. If needed, change the hotspot password so it is simple and easy to type in.
Next, open the interface of the device you want to connect to the hotspot (such as a desktop or laptop) and follow these instructions:
- Tap Settings
- Tap Wi-Fi
Then look for the iPhone or iPad in the list of connectable devices. Tap on the device you want to join and, if asked, enter the password.
You should now be connected to that phone’s hotspot.
Many Apple iPhones allow you to connect to personal hotspots via Bluetooth instead. However, you must take the device you want to connect to and ensure that the phone is discoverable via Bluetooth.
Go to Settings, tap Bluetooth and remain on the screen until the connection is complete.
Follow manufacturer directions on a Mac or PC to set up a Bluetooth connection. Each device may have particular directions, but they should be displayed on the screen of the device you want to connect.
You can also sometimes connect to a personal hotspot via USB. To do this, you’ll need the latest version of iTunes and Finder on a Macintosh device like a laptop or desktop.
Connect the iPhone or iPad to a computer with a USB cable. Tap “Trust” if you see an alert asking whether you should trust the computer, and follow the instructions.
Again, the exact step-by-step instructions may vary depending on your device and what version of iOS your device runs on.
The instructions should be displayed on the pop-up window after plugging in the USB cable for the first time.
How Can You Set Up a Phone Hotspot for Android Devices?
Android devices allow you to set up phone hotspots using a simple sequence. To set up a personal hotspot on an Android device like a Samsung Galaxy S22:
- Swipe your thumb from the top of the screen.
- Tap Hotspot. This will enable a Personal Hotspot on your Android device if you have hotspot data enabled from your cellular provider.
Note that you may not see a Hotspot icon. If this is the case, tap the Edit icon and drag the Hotspot icon into the quick settings for your Android phone.
Most Android phones also automatically set up hotspots once you prep them once. If you don’t want to waste your mobile data plan on accident, turn this setting off or only manually connect devices to your hotspot.
The last thing you want is people connecting to your device’s hotspot and using your data without your say-so.
Connecting to a Personal Hotspot on Android Devices
Now it’s time to join a personal hotspot from an Android device. To do this:
- Open the device you want to connect to the hotspot (like a desktop or laptop) and browse the list of Wi-Fi options.
- Pick the phone hotspot name — you should know it from activating the hotspot on your Android device.
- Enter the hotspot password if necessary.
- Then tap or click Connect.
To make connecting to an Android hotspot easier, you can make it not require a password. To set up a hotspot without a password:
- Swipe down from the top of the screen of your Android phone, making the hotspot.
- Touch and hold the Hotspot icon.
- When Security pops up, tap None. This would remove any password requirements or eliminate a password if it is already required.
Tethering With Android Devices
Many Android devices allow you to tether a laptop or desktop to a local Wi-Fi network by using a smartphone as a Wi-Fi bridge. Tethering doesn't use cellular data, so it could be a better way to connect to a personal hotspot if you don't want to use too much data simultaneously.
Tethering doesn't require your Android phone to be a Wi-Fi transmitter. Instead, it just facilitates a Wi-Fi connection between an existing Wi-Fi router, like a local coffee shop network router, and a device like a desktop or a laptop.
Only some Android devices include tethering capabilities. These are usually more modern smartphone models, so if your Android phone is relatively old, you may be unable to use this feature.
To use Wi-Fi tethering:
- Swipe down from the top of your Android screen
- Touch and hold the Hotspot icon
- Turn on the Wi-Fi hotspot
Similarly, you can set up a tethering connection using Bluetooth. To do this:
- Pair your Android phone with the device you want to tether to a high-speed Wi-Fi network
- Set up the second device’s network connection using its Bluetooth settings
- Then open your Android phone and swipe down from the top of the screen
- Touch and hold the Hotspot icon
- Then turn on Bluetooth tethering
Lastly, you can try to tether a laptop or desktop to a Wi-Fi connection by USB cable. However, Mac computers can’t tether with Android devices by USB, so keep this in mind.
To tether another device by USB tethering:
- Connect your Android phone to the device you want to tether via a USB cable. You should see a notification pop up at the top of the screen
- On the Android phone, swipe down from the top of the screen
- Then touch and hold the mobile hotspot device icon
- Then turn on USB tethering
Remember that tethering tends to drain devices' batteries very quickly, regardless of your tethering method.
You may wish to plug in your Android phone while acting as a Wi-Fi tether for a desktop or laptop to prevent the connection from fizzling out and using too much battery life.
Setting your phone up as a hotspot isn’t too complex, although each phone may have unique steps. Furthermore, you should know what kinds of hotspots your phone works with; for instance, does it offer just 2.4 GHz hotspots, or does it also allow 5 GHz hotspots?
In any case, you’ll need a phone with hotspot functionality to use this guide. When the time comes to upgrade your handset, Navi can help.
Our Phone Navigator service can help you find the best phone for your needs and budget by comparing dozens of deals simultaneously. Check it out.
How to use a smartphone as a mobile hotspot | Computerworld
How Bluetooth Works | HowStuffWorks
What is the difference between a mobile hotspot and tethering? | Techopedia