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How to Use Your Phone as a Mobile WiFi HotSpot (iOS and Android)

It’s a situation you’ve probably found yourself in once or twice if you’re a remote worker or just someone who takes their laptop with them routinely for mobile computing, and it’s the lack of a trusted WiFi network or sometimes the lack of a WiFi network altogether. Since one of the main aversions to using publicly available WiFi is the lack of robust security, most public hotspots are out.

But if you have a smartphone, there is always the possibility of using that connection as the basis for your WiFi. This is known as “tethering”, and while there can be additional data charges depending on your phone plan, it is still one of the best and easiest ways to get a WiFi connection on the go.

Caveats About Tethering

The main thing to know before firing up your WiFi hotspot is how your particular phone plan handles mobile hotspot data connections. Many providers, even plans that have supposedly unlimited data, only have unlimited data for the phone connection, and not for tethered WiFi data connections. Unlimited plans from Verizon, for example, commonly only allow 15GB of data for a tethered connection before speeds are reduced until the next billing cycle.

In most situations, this won’t be a dealbreaker, as many people are just looking to connect to get some work done or just browse the web and social networks. However, if you’re on your mobile hotspot and looking to stream some video on a bigger screen than your phone, you’ll find that you chew through that data cap pretty quickly. Your phone will also deplete the battery much faster, so make sure it’s connected to a charger while in use as your hotspot, but watch that temperature if you’re going to be connected for longer periods.

The quality of your signal will also factor into your mobile WiFi hotspot functionality. For your tethered connection to work well, you’ll need a decent cell signal. In most cases, the average 4G signal will give you more than you need, while newer 5G devices can give you a whole lot more than you’ll probably need for browsing. If you aren’t getting a strong signal, you may experience your connection dropping periodically.

Using Your iPhone As A Mobile WiFi Hotspot

Setting up your mobile WiFi hotspot on your iPhone is easier than you may think, here's how:

1. Open your “Settings” and tap “Cellular”, if applicable based on your iOS version,

2. Select “Personal Hotspot”.

3. Then, you will need to make sure that the toggle for “Allow Others To Join” is set to on.

4. Once you’ve done that simply set a secure WiFi password, and you’re ready to go.

Your laptop or any other device with the password will be permitted to use the network. It will be listed in your available networks under your iPhone’s name. This connection can also be made by linking your iPhone to your computer via USB or even Bluetooth. USB is usually the more common alternative since Bluetooth is relatively slow and less reliable.

Using Your Android Phone As A Mobile WiFi Hotspot

Since Android devices have more variance in their operating systems from phone to phone, these steps may not be exactly what you need to do, but they should get you close enough.

1. Open your “Settings” and look for either a “Connections” or “Network & Internet” tab.

2. Select “Hotspot & Tethering” to see the list of options.

3. One of the main options should be “WiFi Hotspot” or “Mobile Hotspot”, tap that to activate the feature.

Now you’ll need to name your network, which will be the SSID that you’ll look for in your list of network connections. You will also need to set the network password here. Once you have supplied those two bits of information your hotspot should be ready for use.

Just as with iPhones, most versions of Android also have allowances for both USB and Bluetooth tethering. They will both continue to use your phone’s hotspot data, but they may be more convenient to use depending on your situation. Just remember that USB will be faster and more reliable than Bluetooth, although both will require a sufficiently strong cellular signal.

Using Your Smartphone For A Tethered Connection

It’s probably easier than you anticipated, so the next time you’re computing on the go, don’t be afraid to pull up that hotspot. Be mindful of your data usage, and set your network to “Metered'' to prevent Windows from automatically downloading any available updates while on your mobile hotspot. Make sure your phone is charging and you’ll be able to surf the web on a bigger screen than your phone from just about anywhere.

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