How to Tether an iPad to an iPhone

A man on an iphone and a woman using an iPad relaxing outdoors

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Every iPhone can connect to the Internet anywhere there's a 3G or 4G signal, but most iPads need Wi-Fi to get online. Some iPads have 3G and 4G connectivity, but those cost extra and aren't the most common devices. As a result, iPhone users can usually get online in places iPad users are stuck offline.

There's a solution to this problem for iPad owners. If there's an iPhone nearby, Wi-Fi-only iPads can get online using a technology called tethering. Tethering, which Apple calls Personal Hotspot on the iPhone, is a feature of smartphones that allows them to function as a Wi-Fi hotspot and share their cellular network connection with other nearby devices using Wi-Fi. 

With a few taps on each device, your iPad can get online anywhere your iPhone can by tethering them together. Here's what you need to do.

Requirements for Tethering iPhone and iPad

  1. An iPhone 3GS or higher, with functioning Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

  2. A wireless data plan for the iPhone that includes tethering.

  3. Any model iPad, with functioning Wi-Fi.

How to Tether an iPad to an iPhone

To share your iPhone's cellular data connection with any nearby iPad so it can get online, make sure you meet the three requirements above, then follow these steps:

  1. On the iPhone, tap Settings.

  2. Tap Personal Hotspot.

  3. Move the Personal Hotspot slider to on/green.

  4. Keep the Personal Hotspot screen open on the iPhone. You'll need the Personal Hotspot password listed there.

Next, follow these steps on the iPad you want to tether to the iPhone:

  1. Turn on Wi-Fi, if it's not on already. You can do this through Control Center or the Settings app.

  2. Tap Settings.

  3. Tap Wi-Fi and move the slider to on/green.

  4. Look for the network created by the iPhone. It will be the name of the iPhone (usually something like, in my case, "Sam's iPhone). Tap it.

  5. Enter the Wi-Fi network password from the iPhone's Personal Hotspot screen.

When the iPad connects to the iPhone, a blue bar appears at the top of the iPhone's screen (on some models, it's a blue bubble around the time in the top left corner). This indicates that a device is connected to the Personal Hotspot. The iPad can access the Internet via the iPhone as long as the Personal Hotspot is turned on and the iPad is in Wi-Fi range of the iPhone.

You can use the iPhone as you normally would even while the iPad is tethered to it. Personal Hotspot doesn't interfere with it. The only difference you could notice is that the iPhone's Internet connection may be a little slower than normal since it's being shared with the iPad. 

How Data Use Works When Tethering

Any data used by devices tethered to the iPhone counts against the iPhone's monthly data plan. If you've got a plan that charges you for data overages or slows your speeds after you use a certain amount (this is called "throttling"), you'll want to be aware of this. It's usually best to let other devices tether for limited periods of time, and for relatively low-data-use functions. For example, you probably don't want to let an iPad tethered to your iPhone's cellular connection download a 4 GB game that counts against your data.

Connecting Multiple Devices to One iPhone

Multiple devices can be connected to a single iPhone Personal Hotspot. These could be other iPads, iPod touches, computers, or other Wi-Fi-equipped devices. Just follow the steps for connecting the device to Wi-Fi, enter the iPhone's Personal Hotspot password, and you'll have everyone online in no time.

How to Disconnect Tethered Devices

When you're done, turn off Personal Hotspot on your iPhone by following these steps:

  1. Tap Settings.

  2. Tap Personal Hotspot.

  3. Move the slider to off/white. This disconnects any device that was tethered to the iPhone.

If you're the iPhone user in this scenario, you'll want to keep Personal Hotspot off except when you're using it, since that conserves battery life.

While not required, the iPad user should probably also turn off their Wi-Fi to save battery. Open Control Center and tap the Wi-Fi icon (second from the left in the top bar) so that it's not highlighted.

It's possible, in some situations, for Personal Hotspot to disappear from your iPhone, preventing you from tethering an iPad to it. Learn how to get it back in How to Fix iPhone Personal Hotspot on iPhone & iOS.