How to use your Android phone as a hotspot
If your home Wi-Fi router starts working or you’re traveling to an area without internet access, setting up a mobile hotspot with your Android phone can help you get other devices back online quickly. . We’ll show you how to do that.
Your Android phone lets you share cellular data with other devices by broadcasting itself as a personal hotspot. It’s a quick and easy way to access the Internet when you don’t have access to standard Wi-Fi.
However, setting up your Android device as a mobile hotspot comes at a cost to battery life, so you can use it sparingly. For longer sessions, it’s best to explore less conventional methods such as USB tethering and Bluetooth.
Depending on your cellular plan, some carriers may prohibit you from sharing mobile data or require you to pay extra to connect devices. If in doubt, confirm before you start.
To note: The following tutorial demonstrates how to share your Android’s internet connection via hotspot, USB and Bluetooth on a Google Pixel running Android 12. The steps below may vary slightly depending on your device and system software version.
Enable Mobile Hotspot on Android
The first time you want to share the internet on your Android cell phone with other devices, you need to check the “Wi-Fi hotspot” settings of the device. This lets you change the default hotspot name, adjust the security level, and write down the Wi-Fi password. There are also a few settings you can use to improve battery life and extend compatibility. To do this:
1. Locate and open the Settings app through the home screen of your Android device. Or open the app drawer and search for it.
2. Press Network & internet > Access point and connection sharing to access your mobile hotspot and tethering settings page. Then select WIFI hotspot.
3. Adjust the following settings and enable the switch next to Use Wi-Fi hotspot:
- Access point name: Set up a recognizable network name for your Android’s hotspot feature. Otherwise, it will use the default device name.
- Security: Choose an available Wi-Fi security protocol such as WPA3-Personal, WPA2/WPA3-Personal and WPA2-Personal. WPA3 offers better security but may not be compatible with older devices. Stick to the default WPA2/WPA3 setting or select WPA2 if you’re having connectivity issues.
- Access point password: Write down the access point’s default password. This is a random string of alphanumeric digits, so feel free to modify it. However, do not use an easily guessed password.
- Automatically disable hotspot: Let your Android automatically turn off mobile hotspot to save battery when no device is connected.
- Extend compatibility: Allows older devices to detect and use your Android hotspot as a Wi-Fi connection. However, this may cause the battery to drain faster.
You can now connect to your Android phone’s hotspot from another device. The process is similar to connecting to a typical Wi-Fi network. On your PC or Mac, select the Wireless on the system tray or menu bar, select the name of the mobile hotspot and enter its password.
It is also possible to connect an iOS or iPadOS device this way. Simply go to the Wi-Fi selection screen to connect. You can also press the QR Code in the “Wi-Fi hotspot” screen and scan it using the camera of iPhone or iPad to join the hotspot instantly without inserting the password. Instead, use nearby sharing to allow other Android mobile devices to access the hotspot network.
Going forward, you can enable and disable hotspot for your Android device through the Quick Settings pane. Just swipe down from the top of the screen to open it (you may need to swipe down or sideways twice to reveal all the settings). Then press the Hotspot icon to toggle the feature or long press it to enter the “Wi-Fi hotspot” settings screen.
Again, your Android hotspot uses significant power to stay active. If you haven’t configured the device to automatically turn off the hotspot when no device is connected, remember to do so and avoid battery drain.
Enable USB tethering on Android
If you have a USB cable handy, you can connect your Android to a desktop or laptop via USB and share your cellular data plan that way. This speeds up the internet and prevents the phone battery from draining. However, USB tethering prevents you from connecting additional peripherals and can reduce laptop battery life.
1. Open the Settings app on your Android device and tap Network & internet > Access point and connection sharing.
2. Turn on the switch next to USB Tethering.
3. Connect your Android to your PC or Mac and disconnect from other wireless networks (or turn off the Wi-Fi module). It should automatically start using mobile data via USB.
Unlike a mobile hotspot, you don’t need to turn off USB tethering when you’re not actively using it.
Enable Bluetooth tethering on Android
It is also possible to share the Internet with a desktop or laptop on your Android phone via Bluetooth. This results in slower internet speeds and is somewhat complicated to set up and use. However, this significantly reduces battery consumption compared to using a hotspot network.
1. Open the Settings app on your Android device, tap Network & internet > Access point and connection sharingand activate the switch next to Bluetooth tethering.
2. Pair your Android phone with your desktop or laptop computer. In Microsoft Windows, you can open the The start menu and select Settings > Bluetooth and devices > Add Device. On the Mac, open the apple menu and go to System Preferences > Bluetooth. Make sure to put your Android in discovery mode during the pairing process (just go to Settings > Connected devices).
3. Configure your PC or Mac to start using Bluetooth. In Windows, right-click Bluetooth icon in the Windows taskbar and select Join the personal network. Or open Control Panel and select Hardware and sound > Devices and printers. Next, highlight your Android and select To connect to > Access point.
On Mac, go to System Preferences > Networkselect the More icon and add PAN Bluetooth.
To note: At the time of this writing, Apple has removed the ability to set up a Bluetooth Personal Area Network on Macs running macOS 12 Monterey and later. You should have no problem using Bluetooth tethering on older versions of macOS.
Uninterrupted internet connectivity
Knowing how to set up your Android phone as a portable Wi-Fi hotspot can help you in many situations. However, remember to use USB or Bluetooth tethering when battery life is an issue. If you’re having trouble following the instructions above, learn how to fix your Android mobile hotspot and get back online.