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How to set up mobile hotspot on Android

Don't be left stranded with an internetless computer.
By
August 9, 2022

Have no internet? Actually, you do. It’s in your pocket. You can turn your Android phone into a mobile hotspot and share your connection with other devices. This post will show you the ins and outs of setting up a mobile hotspot on Android, so let’s get started.

More: The best cellphone plans for every type of user

Editor's note: Please take the time to get to know your mobile carrier and the service plan you have purchased. Not all plans allow tethering and hotspot services. In such cases, doing this can incur additional charges and go against your terms of service. Also, some carrier-branded phones may have disabled hotspot capabilities altogether. We'll try to get you up and running with a few techniques today, but it may simply not be possible on your device.

QUICK ANSWER

Mobile hotspot can be activated on Android by heading to Settings > Network & internet > Hotspot & tethering > Wi-Fi hotspot, and toggle on Use Wi-Fi hotspot.


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Also: Some of the steps in this article were put together using a Google Pixel 4a with 5G running Android 12. Steps might vary depending on your hardware and software.

How to set up a mobile hotspot on Android

Mobile hotspot button on Android Quick Settings.

You have likely seen the hotspot button in your device’s quick settings drawer. While that is the fastest and easiest way to turn your mobile hotspot on and off, you will want to take a moment to configure things first.

Here’s how you configure a hotspot connection on Android:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Go into Network & internet.
  3. Select Hotspot & tethering.
  4. Tap on Wi-Fi hotspot.
  5. This page has options for turning the hotspot feature on and off. Additionally, you can change the network name, security type, password, and more.
  6. Follow instructions to customize the hotspot feature to your liking.
  7. When ready, toggle on Use Wi-Fi hotspot.

The hard part is over. All there is left to do is to turn on the hotspot feature. There is a handy toggle in the Wi-Fi Settings, or you can use the notification shade’s quick settings, as seen in this section’s main image.

Next: These are the best mobile hotspots you can buy

Set up mobile hotspot via USB

Sony Xperia 1 III USB C
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

It’s also possible to set up a mobile hotspot using your Android phone’s USB connection. Just keep in mind this won’t work with every Android device. If yours supports it, here are the steps to do it.

How to set up USB tethering on Android:

  1. Use your Android phone’s USB cable to connect it to your computer.
  2. Wait a bit for your computer to set up the connection.
  3. Open the Settings app.
  4. Tap on the Network & internet option.
  5. Select Hotspot & tethering.
  6. Toggle the USB tethering option on.

The same process can activate Bluetooth tethering, but we don’t recommend it over Wi-Fi or USB because it’s much slower. If you still want to do it, connect other devices to your tethering source via Bluetooth instead of performing step number one. You can see all mentioned options in the screenshots from the previous section.

Need something stronger? These are the best Wi-Fi routers available right now

Set up a mobile hotspot with a third-party app

Google Play Store on smartphone stock photo 1
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Any recent smartphone should come with hotspot capabilities built-in, but this wasn’t the norm in the past. Those of you using older smartphones might not have a tethering/hotspot option at your disposal, in which case you might depend on using a third-party app. Two of our favorite options are PdaNet+ and Portable Wi-Fi hotspot.

FAQs

Not always. Carriers can tell when data is being used by your smartphone natively, or if it’s being routed through the hotspot feature. Some plans will use your data allotment. Others offer a dedicated amount of data just for hotspot purposes. Some plans don’t allow using the hotspot feature. You’ll have to look into your data plan for more details.

It depends on what you’re doing. Connected devices will pull all the data they need from your phone’s hotspot. This means you should use very little data for tasks like writing emails. The story won’t be the same if you stream or download significant amounts of content.

It’s not recommended to use a phone’s hotspot capabilities to replace traditional internet services. This will run your phone hot constantly, and the battery will die very quickly. Additionally, it can cost you a lot, as cellphone plans don’t typically offer unlimited hotspot data plans. That said, it’s an excellent temporary solution for trips, working from coffee shops, and other similar scenarios.

Using the hotspot feature, you can share your phone’s internet with up to 10 devices.

What’s next?

You might also want to consider getting a dedicated mobile hotspot. These can use cellular network data and create a Wi-Fi network wherever there is a signal. These can usually handle more devices at once, don’t use your smartphone’s battery, and are overall better performers. Check out our recommendations for both hardware and service plans.