If you’re stuck in a situation where you need a Wi-Fi connection, but can’t get it anywhere else, chances are your smartphone can give you the boost you need. By setting up a Wi-Fi hotspot, you can turn your phone into a source for internet that laptops, tablets, and other phones can use.
It may sound complicated, but you can be connected with just a few taps. Most of the major carriers offer tethering services, though your ability to create a Wi-Fi hotspot depends on your service plan and data allowance.
One thing to keep in mind: tethering eats up battery life in addition to data. Investing in a battery case is a good idea if you intend to use hotspot mode frequently. If you’re a business traveler who needs to be connected all day, consider a dedicated Wi-Fi hotspot; we have a few favorites.
If you’re ready to tether, here’s how to turn your phone into a Wi-Fi hotspot.
To set up a personal hotspot on your iPhone or iPad (Wi-Fi + Cellular), go to Settings > Personal Hotspot and toggle it on (if you don’t see Personal Hotspot in Settings, tap Cellular > Personal Hotspot). Make note of the Wi-Fi password.
Open the Wi-Fi menu on the device you need to connect to the internet. Look for your iOS device (ex: PCMag’s iPhone), tap it, and enter the password that appears on your iPhone’s Personal Hotspot screen.
Your secondary device should now be able to surf the web (and consume mobile data). To disconnect, toggle Personal Hotspot to off on your iOS device.
How you access Wi-Fi hotspots on Android phones will depend on which device you have and which version of Android you’re running. If you navigate to Settings and search for “tether,” it should appear, but here’s an idea of what it looks like on some of the top Android phone brands. To deactivate hotspot mode, navigate back to these settings and toggle them off.
Below you can see what it looks like on a Samsung Galaxy S8 running Android 9.0 Pie. You can either pull down and tap the Mobile Hotspot option in the menu to activate. Or navigate to Connections > Mobile Hotspot and Tethering > Mobile Hotspot and toggle it on. A pop-up window will appear, where you can find the Wi-Fi password for devices that want to connect.
To turn on tethering on a Moto Z4 running Android Pie, navigate to Settings > Network & internet > Hotspot & tethering. Here, you can select to share a connection via Wi-Fi, USB, or Bluetooth.
For a Wi-Fi connection, tap Wi-Fi hotspot and toggle it on. The hotspot name will be displayed on this screen. Tap Advanced > Hotspot password for the password.
Pull down from the top of the screen and select Settings > Tethering. Then toggle the Wi-Fi hotspot switch to on.
Pull down from the top of the screen and navigate to Settings > Network & Internet > Hotspot & Tethering > Wi-Fi Hotspot, and toggle the switch to on. The hotspot name and password will then be visible.
Swipe up from the bottom of the screen, then select Settings > Wi-Fi & internet > Hotspot & Tethering and make sure the switch up top is toggled on.
Navigate to Settings > Wireless & networks >Tethering & portable hotspot > Portable Wi-Fi hotspot. Choose Configure Wi-Fi hotspot to set a name, security setting, and password for your hotspot, then tap Save.