How to set up a mobile hotspot on your iPhone and Android phone

By | August 15, 2023

Anyone with a modern smartphone in their pocket or purse also has a mobile hotspot — a wireless access point (in this case, your phone) that allows you to connect your computer, tablet, and other devices to the Internet when you don’t have access to WiFi.

A mobile hotspot works just like Wi-Fi in your home. All you need to do is turn on the hotspot and connect to it with your other device using the hotspot password. Your phone – acting as a hotspot – then shares its 4G or 5G mobile network with your other device, giving it an internet connection and allowing you to surf the web.

It might not be as fast as regular Wi-Fi, but in a pinch, a hotspot can help you quickly share a document via email or catch up on the latest news. If you’ve never set up a hotspot on your phone but want to learn, here’s everything you need to know.

While you’re here, check out the best cell phone plans of 2023, as well as the best unlimited data plans for this month.

Does your phone support a mobile hotspot?

While your phone may potentially have the ability to become a mobile hotspot, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have the phone plan or data available to enable it. The easiest way to check is to go online and look at your phone plan or call and ask.

Many phone plans – monthly and prepaid – include a high-speed mobile hotspot at no extra cost. They’re usually capped though, so once you’ve passed the monthly high-speed allowance you’ll be throttled to lower speeds, but you’ll still be able to use the hotspot unlimitedly.

There are also add-ons you can include in your phone plan that can give you more high-speed hotspot data if you use hotspots frequently. Check your carrier’s phone plan and read about your specific hotspot plan to see what it offers.

Setting up a hotspot on your iPhone

It is quite easy to turn on the mobile hotspot on your iPhone.

IN Settingsgo to Personal hotspot and strike Allow others to participate. Below that, you’ll see the default password needed to connect to your hotspot. You can change this password to whatever you want, but it must contain at least eight characters.

Mobile hotspot feature on iPhone

Although I personally leave it off, you can enable Maximize compatibility to ensure your device connects to the hotspot. However, your internet performance may be reduced because of it.

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

Now you have a few ways to connect to your hotspot.

The most popular way is via Wi-Fi. On your computer or other device, go to your Wi-Fi settings, find the name of your iPhone, and enter the hotspot password. It will connect you to your hotspot and give your other device internet access. If you don’t know the name of your iPhone, go to General > About > Name.

You can also connect your iPhone to your computer using a cable, such as a light to USB cable, to use the hotspot. Once connected, select your iPhone from the list of network services in your settings and enter the hotspot password.

Finally, you can connect the two devices via Bluetooth and use the hotspot that way.

Whichever option you choose, you’ll know the hotspot connection is successful if you see the hotspot symbol (two green rings) at the top of your iPhone.

Using a hotspot on your Android

The process of setting up a mobile hotspot on your Android device is very similar to iPhone.

On your Android, go to Settings > Connections > Mobile hotspot and tethering. Now you have several options for sharing your phone’s internet:

  • Mobile hotspot: Using Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth tethering: Uses Bluetooth
  • USB tethering: Using a USB cable
  • Ethernet tethering: Using a USB Ethernet adapter

While all options work for sharing your phone’s internet, one popular option is Mobile hotspotthen tap on it to configure it.

First, turn it on, then configure the network name and password if necessary. You can also change the band (2.4GHz is default) to get better performance.

Mobile hotspot feature on Android

This is the mobile hotspot feature on the Galaxy S23. If you have another Android phone, the setting may be somewhere else, so just type “hotspot” in your settings if you can’t find it.

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

Once it’s all set, head over to your computer, laptop, or other device, open your Wi-Fi settings, find the hotspot name, and enter the password. This will connect your Android’s internet to your other device — you can connect up to 10 other devices, but your connection can be very slow if you take that route for all those devices.

For more, read the best ISPs of 2023.

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