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Mobile hotspot is a feature that can transform your smartphone into a wireless internet router. This can come in handy during situations where the main internet connection you are using goes down and you need to get back online as soon as possible, 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.
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- Samsung Galaxy S10, $499.99 at Samsung
- Samsung Galaxy S20 (5G Phone), $950 at Amazon / $499.99 at Samsung
- OnePlus 8 PRO Dual SIM (5G Phone), $899 at Amazon / $38 at OnePlus
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S6, $639 at Amazon / $549.99 at Samsung
- Amazon eero Mesh WiFi System, $79 at Amazon
- Google AC2200 Mesh WiFi System, $167 at Amazon
- TP-Link Deco S4 3-Pack Mesh WiFi System, $149.99 at Amazon
- TP-Link AC1200 Smart WiFi Router, $39.99 at Amazon
How to turn phone into hotspot without a plan
Note: The step-by-step instructions in this article may differ, depending on your phone’s manufacturer and the version of Android it’s running.
- 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. 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 it a name, or SSID, and then change the default password (Use this password to connect your other devices). 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.
Find and connect to the new Wi-Fi hotspot
Once you activate the hotspot, connect your devices to it as if it were any other Wi-Fi router, it should appear in the list of 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 connect to the hotspot.
Note: Using your Android phone as your hotspot will typically burn through your data. Be prepared to see your data usage increase. 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 mobile 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 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, Wi-Fi hotspots are set up with WPA2 security and a generic password. If you use a hotspot in a public place or concerned about security, change the default password, and make sure it is strong, but memorable.
- Remember, data fees can add up quickly. When you use the mobile hotspot, data usage fees will apply, and they’re on top of the fee your wireless provider may charge for the basic service.
About King Osaghae
King Osaghae is the managing editor at TechZerg, meaning that he oversees all the articles TechZerg produces. He’s been writing about tech-related topics and trends since 2018.