How to Use Your Android Phone As a Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot

Share your phone's internet connection with up to 5 other devices

The Wireless Connection
The Wireless Connection
Introduction
Mobile Hotspot settings on Samsung Galaxy S9

Hotspots offer more convenient capability than tethering, where a data connection is shared with a single computer using a USB cable or Bluetooth — possibly with the help of software like PdaNet. Just as the iPhone can be used as a Wi-Fi hotspot, many Android smartphones and tablets offer similar features. With a Wi-Fi hotspot, your mobile data connection on your Android device can be shared wirelessly with up to five other devices, including other cell phones, tablets, and computers. The Wi-Fi data-sharing feature is built into most Android devices. 

Instructions in this article focus on "stock" Android on a Google Pixel and a Samsung Galaxy S9. Other devices' interfaces and processes may differ depending on who made them: LG, HTC, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.

Turn On the Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot Feature on Your Samsung Smartphone

If you aren't restricted from using the Wi-Fi hotspot feature on your Android device, enable it.

Be selective when using a smartphone as a Wi-Fi hotspot, and with whom you share the password. Data processed through this Wi-Fi feature uses your monthly allotment of mobile data usage.

To turn on the Wi-Fi hotspot:

  1. Go to Settings on your Samsung phone. From the Home screen, press the Menu button, then tap Settings.

  2. In the Settings screen, tap Wireless & networks. On a Samsung phone, tap Connections, then tap Mobile Hotspot and Tethering.

  3. Turn on the Mobile Hotspot toggle switch. The phone becomes a wireless access point and displays a message in the notification bar when it's activated.

    Connections, Mobile Hotspot and Tethering, and Mobile Hotspot toggle on Samsung Android phone
  4. To find the password and instructions for the hotspot, tap Mobile Hotspot. Use this password to connect your other devices to the hotspot.

    To change the default password, tap Password and enter a new password.

  5. Connect your other devices to the hotspot to go online.

Turn On the Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot Feature on Your Pixel or Stock Android Smartphone

If you aren't restricted from using the Wi-Fi hotspot feature on your Android device, enable it:

  1. Launch the Settings app, then tap Network & Internet.

  2. Tap Hotspot & tethering, then tap Wi-Fi hotspot.

    Network & Internet, Hotspot & tethering, and Wi-Fi hotspot buttons on Google Pixel
  3. Turn on the Wi-Fi hotspot toggle switch.

    Wi-Fi hotspot toggle ON for Pixel
  4. Optionally, change the hotspot name, password, and other advanced settings such as automatic shutoff and the AP Band.

Find and Connect to the New Wi-Fi Hotspot Created

When the hotspot is activated, connect your other devices to it as if it were any other Wi-Fi router:

  1. From each device with which you want to share Internet access, find the Wi-Fi hotspot. Your computer, tablet, or other smartphones may notify you that new wireless networks are available.

    To find the wireless networks, use your Android phone and go to Settings > Wireless & networks > Wi-Fi settings. Then, follow the general Wi-Fi connection instructions for most computers.

  2. Establish the connection by entering the password for the Wi-Fi hotspot.

Enable Wi-Fi Hotspot for Free on Carrier-Restricted Plans

The default procedure for the universal Wi-Fi hotspot feature found in Android works if you have a device that supports hotspots and a data plan to pair with it. However, you may not get internet access on your laptop or tablet after you connect because some wireless carriers restrict Wi-Fi Hotspot access only to those who pay for the feature.

Another way to use your Android as a hotspot is with an Android widget app, such as Elixir 2, that toggles the Wi-Fi hotspot on or off on your home screen. This makes it possible to access the hotspot feature directly and without adding extra charges from your wireless provider. If Elixir 2 doesn't work, a free app called FoxFi does the same thing.

Although these apps circumvent carrier restrictions, in most cases bypassing carrier limitations constitutes a terms-of-service violation in your contract. Use these apps at your discretion.

Tips and Considerations

When using the Wi-Fi hotspot on your Android phone and other devices, follow these recommendations:

  • Turn off the Wi-Fi hotspot feature when you no longer need shared Internet access for other devices. Leaving the feature activated drains the cell phone battery.
  • By default, portable Wi-Fi hotspots are set up with WPA2 security and a generic password. If you use a hotspot in a public place or are concerned about hackers intercepting your data, change the password before broadcasting your signal.
  • Different devices and carriers use different methods to activate the mobile hotspot feature. Some carriers require the use of a stand-alone app, instead of the stock Android capability, to share your data plan with Wi-Fi users. Check the specific instructions for your device manufacturer or your service provider.