Need to connect your laptop to the internet? But can’t find a public Wi-Fi hotspot? Even if you do find a public Wi-Fi that can be freely available, remember it does come with risks. What if your main internet connection goes down at home? The mobile hotspot feature in your Android phone can really come in handy during situations like this, you can easily switch to your mobile hotspot and get your other devices back online in seconds.
The mobile hotspot feature allows your Android phone to share its mobile data with other devices, including computers, tablets, and other mobile phones. The Wi-Fi data-sharing feature is built into most Android devices. If your carrier doesn’t allow this, you can still get around it with the help of third-party apps.
How to Turn Your Android Phone into a Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot
Note: The step by step instructions in this article to set up your mobile hotspot may differ, depending on your phone’s manufacturer and the version of Android it’s running.
To set up Wi-Fi hotspot:
- Plug the phone into a power source. The mobile hotspot feature can draw a lot of power depending on the device or the number of devices you plan to connect to it.
- Go to the Home screen on your Android device. Most Android devices have a “Home” button for this with the picture of a house on it.
- Open the Settings app. It’s found on the Home screen. Simply press your phone’s Menu button and select Settings.
- In the “Settings” screen, tap More settings under Wireless & Networks, and then choose Tethering & Portable Hotspot. On a Samsung phone, tap Connections, then tap Mobile Hotspot and Tethering.
- Turn on the Mobile Hotspot toggle switch. On other Android devices, tap Set Up Wi-Fi Hotspot under Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot. The phone becomes a wireless access point and displays a message in the notification bar once it’s activated.
- Tap the Mobile Hotspot to give the hotspot a name, or SSID, and then change the default password (Use this password to connect your other devices to the hotspot). To do the same on a Samsung device, tap the hamburger menu at the top left, and then tap Configure Mobile Hotspot to access these settings.
- Tap the Save or OK button to save your settings.
- Connect your other devices to the hotspot to go online.
Note: If the hotspot doesn’t come on or the mobile hotspot is disabled, it means your phone is not capable of creating a Wi-Fi hotspot or that feature is disabled under your data subscription plan. In that case, you can get around it by using third-party apps in the second method of this article.
Find and Connect to the New Wi-Fi Hotspot
When the hotspot is activated, connect your devices to it as if it were any other Wi-Fi router, it should appear in the list of available networks on your other devices. Your other smartphones, tablet or computer may notify you that new wireless networks are available.
- To find the wireless networks on your Android phone, go to Settings, tap Wireless & networks, then tap Wi-Fi settings.
- Establish the connection; select the Wi-Fi hotspot and enter the password you created. Your other devices will now be connected to the hotspot.
Note: Using your Android phone as your hotspot will typically burn through your data much faster than simply using your phone to browse the internet. Be prepared to see your data usage increase when using your hotspot. You can apply a data cap to your device, Android automatically disables your data connection when you reach the limit. To monitor your data usage, go to Settings, tap Wireless & Networks, and then tap Data usage.
Enable Wi-Fi Hotspot for Free on Carrier-Restricted Plans with FoxFi or Elixir 2
The built-in Android hotspot method should work fine for most people. However, some wireless carriers restrict Wi-Fi Hotspot access only to those who pay for the feature. If your carrier doesn’t allow you to tether other devices on your plan, you can try to use a third-party app instead.
Third-party Android widget apps such as FoxFi or Elixir 2 will toggle the Wi-Fi hotspot on or off on your home screen, making it possible to access the hotspot feature directly and without adding extra charges from your carrier.
Note: keep in mind that in most cases, bypassing carrier restrictions may violate terms and conditions in your contract. Use these apps at your discretion.
Tips to Consider
- Don’t forget to turn off the mobile hotspot feature when you no longer need shared Internet access for your other devices. Leaving the feature on always even when not in use will drain the cell phone battery.
- By default, mobile hotspots are set up with WPA2 security and a generic password. If you use a hotspot in a public place or are concerned about security, change the default password, and make sure that it is strong, but memorable.
- Remember data fees can add up quickly. When you use the mobile hotspot, data usage fees apply, and they’re on top of the fee your wireless provider may charge for the basic service.
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