How to Use Your Phone as a Wi-Fi Hotspot

Long gone are the days when we needed to scour the App Store and Play Store in search of dubious third-party apps that let us turn our iPhones and Androids into Wi-Fi hotspots. The process is a whole lot simpler these days, thanks to both Apple and Google baking Wi-Fi hotspot support into their respective operating systems. This tutorial shows how to turn your phone into a Wi-Fi hotspot and let devices all around use your phone’s mobile data connection.

Good to know: learn how to set a metered Wi-Fi connection on Android for better control over your data usage.

A Word of Caution

Hotspots are a fantastic way to get your computer, tablet, and other devices to take advantage of your iPhone’s or Android’s Internet. Be careful, though, as your computer, tablet, or other devices may be set to automatically download updates when connected to Wi-Fi (Windows in particular) and could quickly destroy your data allowance. But you can always opt to stop Windows updates and eliminate that worry from your mind.

How to Use iPhone as a Hotspot

If you’re an iOS user, you can create what Apple calls a Personal Hotspot to share your data with other nearby devices. You’ll need an iPhone running iOS 8 or later or a cellular-model iPad with iPadOS 8 or later.

  1. Open the Settings app on your iOS device.
  2. Go to “Cellular” (if you’re setting up a hotspot for the first time). If you’ve used it before, you can go straight to “Personal Hotspot.”
Clicking on
  1. Ensure that “Cellular Data” is toggled on. If it’s not, the option to create a hotspot will be grayed out.
  1. Tap on the “Personal Hotspot” option underneath.
Tapping on
  1. Tap the slider next to “Allow others to join” to make it green.
Wi-Fi password autogenerated for hotspot on iOS.
  1. Check the Wi-Fi field underneath. Write it down somewhere, as you’ll need it to connect the other device(s) to the hotspot.

Note: you can also toggle “Maximize Compatibility” to allow devices not signed in to iCloud to find your hotspot.

  1. Alternatively, tap the “Wi-Fi Password” field.
Creating your own password for hotspot on iOS.
  1. Your hotspot is now active. Go to the Wi-Fi settings on your other device, and connect to the network that corresponds with your iPhone. (By default, it’s [Your Name] iPhone.)
Connecting to iPhone hotspot in Windows.
  1. Once it’s time to stop sharing your connection, it’s easy to do so. Bring up the Control Center on your iPhone, and toggle off the “Personal Hotspot” tile.
Disabling
  1. On iOS, you can also connect to the hotspot using Bluetooth or USB.
Hotspot connection options for iOS.

Tip: check out these cool widgets that can bring more functionality to your Android home screen.

How to Use Android Phone as a Hotspot

Things may vary slightly depending on your Android phone, but the same general rules apply between phones – as long as the phone is running on a relatively recent version of Android (5.0 or later). For this example, we’re using a Pixel device running Android 13.

  1. Open the Settings app on your Android device.
  2. Tap on “Network & Internet.”
Clicking on
  1. Select the “Hotspot & tethering” option.
Selecting
  1. On the next screen, tap on “Wi-Fi hotspot.” You also have the option to share your phone’s connection via USB (you’ll need a USB cable for that), Bluetooth, or Ethernet.
Opting for
  1. Toggle on “Use Wi-Fi hotspot” at the top.
Toggling on
  1. Tap on “Hotspot name” to set a name for your hotspot and make it easier to spot among other connections.
Setting a new hotspot name on Android device.
  1. Tap on “Hotspot password.”

Tip: learn how to stop apps from using mobile data on Android.

Tapping on
  1. Once you see the password that you need to input to connect to the hotspot, you have the option to change it to whatever you want. Just make sure to press “OK” when you’re done.
Setting new password for hotspot.
  1. Additionally, you can enable “Turn off hotspot automatically” when no devices are connected. You can also enable “Extend compatibility” to help other devices find the hotspot.
Optional features under Wi-Fi hotspot including
  1. Go to the device you wish to connect to the new hotspot. In this example, we’re using a Windows laptop. Bring up the Wi-Fi connections list and identify the hotspot.
Connecting to Android hotspot from Windows laptop.
  1. Click on it and input the password from the above step. You should have no trouble connecting to the hotspot.
  2. When it’s time to stop sharing your Internet, turning the hotspot off (and on again) is easy via your Android’s Quick Settings. Swipe down from the top of the display, and tap on the “Hotspot” toggle.
Turning hotspot on via Quick Toggle on Android.

FYI: follow this link to learn how to prevent the Wi-Fi from turning on automatically on your Android phone.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does a Wi-Fi mobile hotspot operate?

A mobile works by turning your smartphone into a portable Wi-Fi access point. When you enable the hotspot feature on your device, it uses its cellular data connection to create a Wi-Fi network that other devices can connect to. The phone acts as a router, forwarding data packets between the connected devices and the Internet.

Are there any third-party apps that can create a mobile hotspot?

If, for whatever reason, you don’t want to use your phone’s built-in capabilities to create a mobile hotspot, you can use a third-party app instead. While most modern Android phones can create a hotspot, that wasn’t the case in the past. Therefore, you can still find apps like Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot in the Google Play Store. This app enables you to turn your phone into a Wi-Fi hotspot, but remember that it hasn’t been updated since 2018. On iOS, there are no similar apps, so you’ll have to rely on your device’s built-in features.

How can I see which devices are connected to my hotspot?

You can’t tell which devices are connected to your hotspot – only how many are connected. If you’ve used an iPhone to create the hotspot, you’ll see a green bar at the top of the screen on the left when a device (or more) is connected, but you can’t see the exact number. To view this info, you’ll need to open the Control Center and tap the “Personal Hotspot” toggle. You’ll see underneath just how many devices are connected to the hotspot.

On Android, things work similarly. Bring up the Quick Settings menu, and look at the Hotspot tile to see the number.

Why can’t I create a hotspot on my iPhone?

Most big carriers include Personal Hotspot as a part of their plans for iPhone. At the same time, most regional and pay-as-you-go carriers also offer this option. Even so, it’s still possible that your plan does not support Personal Hotspot. If you can’t create a hotspot on your iPhone or get a message to contact your carrier when you press the “Personal Hotspot” option in Settings, check with your phone company to learn about your options.

Image credit: Pexels. All screenshots by Alexandra Arici.

Alexandra Arici
Alexandra Arici

Alexandra is passionate about mobile tech and can be often found fiddling with a smartphone from some obscure company. She kick-started her career in tech journalism in 2013, after working a few years as a middle-school teacher. Constantly driven by curiosity, Alexandra likes to know how things work and to share that knowledge with everyone.

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