Turn Your Cell Phone into a Wi-Fi Hotspot

Share your phone's internet connection with your laptop and other devices

Thanks to your smartphone's data plan, you've got internet access wherever you go. If you'd like to share that internet access wirelessly with your other devices, such as your laptop and other Wi-Fi capable gadgets (such as tablets and portable gaming systems), your phone likely has that feature built in. Here's how to turn your cell phone into a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot on Android, iPhone, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry.

I've previously detailed how to use your Android phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot and how to do the same with the iPhone, but never covered the two other major mobile operating systems, Windows Phone and BlackBerry. Since a lot of professional users own BlackBerries and Windows Phones, this article will sum up those instructions, and I'll recap in short the Android and iPhone instructions just so everything's in one place.​

Note that besides these phone settings, you'll also probably need a tethering option (a.k.a. mobile hotspot) on your mobile data plan (about $15 a month extra on most plans, although ).

Turn on the Wi-Fi Hotspot Feature on Your Android Cell Phone

Smartphones and tablets running Android 2.2 and above have a built-in Wi-Fi data sharing feature. With it, you can share your phone's data connection with up to 5 other devices at once, wirelessly. The precise location of the Wi-Fi hotspot setting might differ depending on your particular phone and OS version, but in general, to enable the Wi-Fi hotspot feature, go to Settings > Wireless & Networks > Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot (it might also be called "Tethering and Mobile HotSpot" or something similar). Tap that, then check or slide the mobile hotspot feature on.

You'll see the default network name for the hotspot and should set a password for the network (as with the iPhone vulnerability, you should choose a unique, long password for your network). Then, from your other device(s), simply connect to the new wireless network you just created.

See the original article for more tips and even how you might be able to do this if your carrier has restricted the Wi-Fi hotspot feature on your phone. (I.e., how to do share the internet access for free.)

Turn on the Personal Hotspot Feature on Your iPhone

On iPhone, the mobile hotspot feature is called "personal hotspot." Depending on your wireless carrier, you can connect up to 5 devices over Wi-Fi to share your iPhone's data plan.

To turn it on, go to Settings > General > Network > Personal Hotspot > Wi-fi Hotspot and enter your own password of at least eight characters (as noted above, you shouldn't use the default iPhone hotspot password, since it can be cracked in seconds). Then slide the Personal hotspot switch on.

From the other device(s) connect to your personal hotspot as you would a new Wi-Fi network.

See the original article for more tips and details on the iPhone's personal hotspot feature.

Turn on Internet Sharing on Windows Phone

On Windows Phone, this mobile hotspot feature is called, simple, "Internet Sharing" (don't you love how everyone has different names for the same things?). To start sharing your Windows Phone's cellular data over Wi-Fi, flick left to the App list from the Start screen, then go to Settings > Internet Sharing and turn the switch to on.

In the Internet sharing screen, you can change the network name, set the security to WPA2, and enter your own password (all recommended).

Turn on Mobile Hotspot on Your BlackBerry

Finally, BlackBerry users can share their mobile internet connection with up to five devices by going to Manage Connections > Wi-Fi > Mobile hotspot. By default, BlackBerry will require a password to secure the connection.

You can go to Options > Network and Connections > Mobile Hotspot Connections > Options to change the network name (SSID) and security type, and control, even more, details about the network, including wireless band (802.11g or 802.11b), allow or disallow data exchange between connected devices, and automatically shut down the network. See BlackBerry's help page for more details.