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How to Use Your Smartphone as a Hot Spot

If you are out somewhere and find there’s no Wi-Fi connection for your laptop or you don’t want to run the risk of using a public Wi-Fi network, you can always press your phone into service as a Wi-Fi hot spot. Using your phone this way is often called tethering, and it’s usually quick and easy to set up, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

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What You Need to Know About Tethering

Different carriers and plans have different rules about tethering. To avoid unexpected charges, always check before you use your phone as a hot spot. Tethering is typically included, but it will count against your data allowance. 

Even with supposedly “unlimited” data plans, there are some limitations. Web browsing should not be a problem, but if you want to stream video to your laptop using your phone as a Wi-Fi hot spot, for example, you may run into restrictions. Throttling is common when certain data limits are reached, so check the fine print on your plan.

For tethering to work well, you will need a strong mobile data connection on your phone. When your phone acts as a hot spot, it works just like a mini router and appears as a regular Wi-Fi network option, so it’s vital to set a password, or anyone can connect and use your data. 

While it is typically slower than regular Wi-Fi, a strong 4G or 5G signal will allow for relatively fast speeds. Using your phone as a hot spot will also rapidly drain the battery, so it’s smart to snag a portable charger and be aware that it can cause your phone to get very warm.

How to Set Up Your iPhone to Be a Wi-Fi Hot Spot

It’s a cinch to set up tethering on your iPhone. Here's how:

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Open Settings and tap on Personal Hotspot, or Cellular then Personal Hotspot.Toggle on Allow Others to Join and set a Wi-Fi Password.Once activated, you can connect to your iPhone on another device, just as you would any Wi-Fi network, by looking for your iPhone’s name through the Wi-Fi menu and entering the password you chose.

You can also connect a device to your iPhone via USB or Bluetooth and use its data connection, but all the same restrictions apply. If you have the right USB cable handy, USB tethering is a good alternative to Wi-Fi. Bluetooth requires you to pair devices and tends to slower or less reliable than the other two options.

How to Set Up Your Android Phone as a Wi-Fi Hot Spot

It’s easy to set up tethering on an Android phone, but the precise steps can differ from device to device. Here’s what to look for:

Open Settings and tap on Network and Internet  (or Connections on a Samsung phone).Tap on Hotspot and tethering to see your options.You should see Wi-Fi hotspot at the top, or maybe Mobile Hotspot, and you can tap it to toggle it on and pick your hot spot name and password.Once it’s turned on, you can connect to it on another device, just as you would any Wi-Fi network, by looking for the name you chose and entering the password.

Some phones allow for USB or Bluetooth tethering as an alternative to Wi-Fi, but both will still use your phone’s data connection, and the usual restrictions apply. If you have the correct USB cable and your phone supports it, USB tethering works well. Bluetooth requires you to pair the devices and is slower than Wi-Fi.

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