Mobile Technology

How to turn your smartphone into a Wi-Fi hotspot

Here's how to make your iPhone, Windows Phone, or Android phone a Wi-Fi hotspot
Here's how to make your iPhone, Windows Phone, or Android phone a Wi-Fi hotspot
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Turn on Internet Sharing on Windows Phone
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Turn on Internet Sharing on Windows Phone
On Android go to Tethering & portable hotspot
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On Android go to Tethering & portable hotspot
Set up a Wi-Fi hotspot on Android
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Set up a Wi-Fi hotspot on Android
Setting up a Wi-Fi hotspot on iPhone
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Setting up a Wi-Fi hotspot on iPhone
Find the broadcasting handset to connect to
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Find the broadcasting handset to connect to
Enter in the password you configured
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Enter in the password you configured
Connect from a tablet to smartphone's Wi-Fi hotspot
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Connect from a tablet to smartphone's Wi-Fi hotspot
Here's how to make your iPhone, Windows Phone, or Android phone a Wi-Fi hotspot
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Here's how to make your iPhone, Windows Phone, or Android phone a Wi-Fi hotspot

If your Internet connection goes down, or you find yourself in a situation where a smartphone is your only connection to the web, turning it into a Wi-Fi hotspot will come in handy. The process is simple and straight-forward, but you still need to know where to go. Here's a look at how to set up a Wi-Fi hotspot on Android, iOS and Windows Phone.

Create a Wi-Fi hotspot with an Android phone

On your phone go to Settings > More > Wireless & networks > Tethering & portable hotspot. The exact menu names can vary slightly on some phones, but if you can get to the wireless settings section, that's generally where you need to be.

On Android go to Tethering & portable hotspot
On Android go to Tethering & portable hotspot

Next, you'll see a few different tethering options. Also the capability of giving your hotspot strong encryption in case you're in a public location. The Network SSID will default to AndroidAP but you can change that and a password to something that is secure but also easy to remember.

Set up a Wi-Fi hotspot on Android
Set up a Wi-Fi hotspot on Android

This method may require a tethering plan with your carrier – and it most definitely will if you live in the US. There are also lots of third-party apps in Google Play that will let you bypass a tethering plan, but you'll want to remember that they likely violate your wireless agreement with your carrier.

Make an iPhone a Wi-Fi hotspot

On your iPhone go to Settings > Cellular and then tap to turn Personal Hotspot on. After a while it will automatically turn off if no devices are connected to it. But you can easily turn it back on in the same section. On iOS 7 you'll also be able to monitor how much data has been used.

Setting up a Wi-Fi hotspot on iPhone
Setting up a Wi-Fi hotspot on iPhone

This will also require a tethering plan if you live in the US. The App Store doesn't have any plan-bypassing hotspot apps, but if you jailbreak your iPhone you'll find a similar selection to what you'll find on Android.

Make a Windows Phone a Wi-Fi hotspot

For this I am using Windows Phone 8.1, but the process is virtually identical with Windows Phone 8 and even 7.5. The difference between 7.5 and 8 is the amount of devices you can connect. Windows Phone 8.x allows you to connect up to 8 devices.

To set it up on your phone go to Settings > internet sharing and flip Sharing to On. Then on the next screen you can keep the default login credentials or change them to something easier to remember.

Turn on Internet Sharing on Windows Phone
Turn on Internet Sharing on Windows Phone

Connecting your laptop or tablet to the hotspot

Connecting your laptop or other device to the phone's hotspot connection is straightforward too. Connect to it as you would any other Wi-Fi connection. Find the handset that is broadcasting and select it. Then enter in the the password you configured for it.

Find the broadcasting handset to connect to
Find the broadcasting handset to connect to

Or you can connect your tablet or other device the same way. In the example below I am broadcasting the data connection from Windows Phone to a Nexus 7.

Connect from a tablet to smartphone's Wi-Fi hotspot
Connect from a tablet to smartphone's Wi-Fi hotspot

Summing up

Again, just remember that your results will vary, as not all service providers allow you to create a hotspot for free. Often you'll be charged extra, so you'll definitely want to check with your carrier to make sure the feature is supported.

If you're on a limited data plan, it will be wise to use this option sparingly or when you're in a pinch. Also note that with this ad hoc Wi-Fi connection, you may experience slower speeds. It will depend on how good of a data connection you have, as well as the number of devices that are connected at the same time.

4 comments
BigGoofyGuy
I think that is very informative. I will check the settings on my Android smart phone.
Paul Stregevsky
On its prepaid plans, T-Mobile will block personal hotspot traffic unless you pay $15 a month for the privilege. I and countless others have tried numerous third-party apps that promise to work around this ban, but invariably TMobile sniffs it out and shuts it down.
Randall Berger
Hardly news ... my iPhones have been able to do this for years! It's called Personal Hotspot. I once supplied WIFI to a class of students when the school system went down. Slow, but it worked! As usual, playing catchup with Apple.
Randy Snakes
Awesome. Use the MS phone as a hotspot and do your work on a real device.
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