You’ve got a laptop or tablet. You’ve got your Android phone handy. What you’re missing is a Wi-Fi network for your computer. No worries. This is when you can turn your smartphone into a mobile hot spot that will let you share its cellular data connection with other devices.
This tip will come in handy when you’re traveling, or if your home or work internet goes out. Using your phone as a hot spot is also sometimes called Wi-Fi tethering. You can use it for your own laptop or tablet, or share your connection with a friend, family member or colleague. It can also be a more secure option than using an untrusted public Wi-Fi network.
Once you turn your Android hot spot on, other devices can use it like a regular Wi-Fi network. Here are the steps you need to take to try it out. Your phone may look different depending on which version of Android you’re using, so you may need to hunt around a little to find the right settings.
Use your Android as a Wi-Fi hotspot
Open up Settings and tap on Network & Internet. Tap on "Hotspot & tethering." Tap on "Wi-Fi hotspot" to turn it on. Tap on "Set up Wi-Fi hotspot" to change the name of the hot spot if you prefer. In this same window, scroll down to locate the password, which will be hidden. Tap on "show password" to see the default password. You can also tap on the password to change it to something more memorable.
To connect a device to your phone, open up its Wi-Fi network menu and look for the name of your phone’s network. Enter the password when prompted to connect. You should be all set to use the internet through your phone now.
Use Android Bluetooth tethering
Using your Android phone as a Wi-Fi hot spot is easy and works well for most scenarios, but you will notice there are also options for USB tethering and Bluetooth tethering.
Bluetooth is likely to be slower than Wi-Fi, but it can be easier on your battery. If you’re teetering on the edge of a dead battery and don’t have a better option, then you can try Bluetooth. In the Hotspot settings window, tap on "Bluetooth tethering" to turn it on. Make sure Bluetooth is on and the device you want to connect is discoverable.
Go to your Bluetooth settings on your phone and select "Pair new device." Look for the device you want to connect and tap on it. You may need to verify a code that appears on both devices to connect. You may also have to investigate the device’s network settings to connect to the internet, but when I paired my iPad to my Android phone, I was able to use my phone’s internet connection with no problem. However, it was noticeably slower than Wi-Fi.
Use Android USB tethering
There’s one more option for tethering and it involves physically connecting your Android phone to another device with a USB cable. Next, you head back to the Hotspot menu and turn on USB tethering. Again, you may experience much slower speeds than with Wi-Fi. Google also warns that you can’t tether Mac computers to Android devices via USB. Chances are, you will never need to resort to USB tethering, but it is an option if for some reason Wi-Fi or Bluetooth won’t cut it.
What you need to know about using Android as a mobile hot spot
Using your Android phone as a hot spot can be a fabulous convenience, but there are a few things to keep in mind. The data you’re using will count against your cellphone plan. It can be easy to eat up data using a laptop, so be mindful if you only have a limited amount to work with.
Another big potential impact is to your phone’s battery life. Using it as a mobile hot spot can eat up your battery faster than you might expect. If you have access to an outlet, then you can keep your phone charged. Otherwise, you it's a good idea to have a battery backup pack on you if you plan to use your phone a lot as a hot spot.
Finally, while most carriers support using your phone as a mobile hot spot, you will want to look up the details for your particular plan. For example, a lot of Verizon plans include mobile hot spot use for no additional monthly charge, but some prepaid plans aren’t eligible and some plans require you to add the service. Some carriers will give you unlimited mobile hot spot use, but at slower speeds that 4G LTE. You may also bump into a limit on mobile hot spot data.
Take a look at your plan details or contact your provider if you’re not sure how the mobile hot spot works with your service. You may need to adjust or switch plans if you’re going to use the hot spot feature often. The convenience of having and Android hot spot is well worth the few minutes it should take you to sort it out.
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