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

Many Android smartphones and tablets offer the ability to set up a Wi-Fi hotspot so that other devices can use your phone's internet connection. This guide shows how to enable and use this feature on a Samsung smartphone and a Google Pixel as examples; the instructions should apply to most current Android phones and software versions.

On Your Samsung Smartphone

To turn on the Wi-Fi hotspot, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings > Wireless & networks. On a Samsung phone, tap Connections > Mobile Hotspot and Tethering.

  2. 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
  3. To find the password and instructions for the hotspot, tap Mobile Hotspot. Use this password to connect your other devices to the hotspot, just as you would connect them to any other Wi-Fi network..

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

Be selective about with whom you share your Wi-Fi hotspot. Also, bear in mind that data processed through this Wi-Fi feature counts against your monthly allotment of mobile data.

On Your Pixel or Stock Android Smartphone

Follow these steps to enable a hotspot on a Pixel or stock Android:

  1. Go to Settings > Network & Internet.

  2. Tap Hotspot & tethering > 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

When the hotspot is activated, connect your other devices to it as you would any other Wi-Fi network:

  1. On your device, find the Wi-Fi hotspot. It might 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

You might 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.

In this case, try using an app such as Elixir 2, which 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, FoxFi does the same thing.

Be aware that, in many 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, follow these recommendations:

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