How to Tether Your Android Phone for Free

Turn your Android into a personal Wi-Fi hotspot

What to Know

  • Toggle Mobile Hotspot on, select a network name and password, and save.
  • Connect your device to the network you created as you would any other Wi-Fi network.
  • Use the Mobile Hotspot toggle to turn your new hotspot on or off.

This article explains how to turn your smartphone into a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot and share your connection with a laptop, tablet, or another device. The directions below should apply regardless of phone manufacturer.

Before setting up tethering, check your carrier's terms. Some carriers have no restrictions, whereas others require a supplemental plan, offer it at low speeds, or block tethering altogether.

Setting Up a Mobile Hotspot

Most phones offer USB tethering, Wi-Fi hotspot, and/or Bluetooth tethering. Using a Wi-Fi hotspot is the easiest, most convenient, and most commonly used option of the three. Here's how to set it up.

  1. Go to Settings > Connections > Mobile Hotspot and Tethering.

    Depending on the Android version and manufacturer, you might see something like Tethering, Mobile Hotspot or Tethering & portable hotspot instead.

  2. Toggle Mobile Hotspot on.

    Android Mobile Hotspot and Tethering
  3. Choose a network name and password.

  4. Tap Save.

    Choosing a hotspot network name and password
  5. Connect your computer, tablet, or other device to the network you just created as you would any other Wi-Fi network.

    Alternatively, you can share your connection via Bluetooth. First, pair the two devices over Bluetooth. Then, turn on the Bluetooth toggle switch. Finally, connect your devices using a USB cable, then toggle on USB tethering.

    Using an App

    If your carrier blocks tethering, try a third-party app. For example, PdaNet+ is a free mobile app with a companion desktop app that shares a smartphone connection over Bluetooth, USB, or Wi-Fi. Depending on your carrier, you might not be able to download the app directly, but the app maker offers a way around that. See the Google Play listing for the app for other possible restrictions.

    PDANet+ on Android

    Rooting Your Smartphone

    Free and unrestricted tethering is one of the many benefits of rooting a smartphone. Rooting a phone could void the warranty or, if done incorrectly, render the phone unusable. In most cases, though, the good outweighs the bad. Once your smartphone is rooted, you won't have any restrictions on apps (such as the Wi-Fi Tethering app from OpenGarden) that you can download.

    Types of Tethering

    There are three ways to share an Android smartphone's Internet connection: USB, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi.

    • Bluetooth is the slowest and allows sharing with one device at a time.
    • A USB connection is faster, plus the laptop simultaneously charges the smartphone.
    • Wi-Fi sharing is quick and supports sharing with multiple devices, but it drains the battery and you'll need a wall charger or portable battery back.

    Extra: Tethering Tips

    Tethering is best in scenarios where an alternative secure connection is not available. When you're finished tethering, be sure to turn it off in Settings. Turn off any connection you're not actively using, such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, which will save battery life. Also, tethering uses data, so it's best used for short periods if your plan doesn't include unlimited data.. If you need to tether your phone to your laptop's data connection, check out our article on setting up a reverse tether.

Was this page helpful?