How to Use Your Phone as a Hotspot
Use your cell phone to set up a hotspot for easy Wi-Fi access.
Your phone’s Wi-Fi hotspot essentially works like a portable modem and router, giving you internet access while you’re on the go.
Also known as tethering, a phone’s Wi-Fi hotspot uses wireless data to provide a connection for laptops, tablets, and other devices. It’s easy to set up and requires only a hotspot data plan for it to work.
A phone hotspot isn’t as powerful as a standalone hotspot, nor as affordable as a home internet plan. But it comes in handy for short trips and quick fixes—able to connect up 10 to 15 devices at a time while usually hitting speeds in the range of 15 Mbps to 1,000 Mbps (the latter only if you have a 5G phone).
Read on to learn how to make your phone a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Instead of relying on a hotspot, you can also check to see if you can get a better, cheaper, or faster home internet connection. Use our zip code tool to find out what’s available in your area.
How to turn on a phone hotspot on an iPhone or iPad
Switching on your phone’s hotspot is quick and easy with an Apple iOS device.
Note: If you don’t already have a cellular plan that allows for hotspots, you’ll need to contact your provider to set it up.
Step 1: Go to Settings > Personal Hotspot. Or (depending on the type of iPhone you have) go to Settings > Cellular > Personal Hotspot.
Step 2: Hit the toggle button to turn on the Personal Hotspot. If you don’t have a cellular plan with hotspot data, you may have to tap a button that says Set Up Personal Hotspot, which will prompt you to call your provider.
Step 3: Toggle on the function that says Allow Others to Join.
Step 4: Write down the password. You can change the password by tapping on the text, tapping X to erase it, and typing in a new password of your choice.
Once you’ve turned on your iPhone’s hotspot, you can connect another Wi-Fi enabled device to it by looking up the name of your hotspot on your device’s Wi-Fi menu and typing in the password.
Hotspot internet speeds can vary depending on the cell service available in your area. Take a speed test to figure out how fast your connection is.
How to turn on a phone hotspot on Android phones
Setting up a hotspot on an Android phone depends slightly on what kind of phone you have. But the instructions are more or less the same regardless of the phone.
Usually you can find the hotspot by searching in your phone for “hotspot” or “tethering.” After you’ve turned on the hotspot, connect to it on another device that needs internet by selecting the name of your hotspot in the device’s Wi-Fi menu and putting in the password.
As you set up the hotspot, make sure you’ve switched on your cellular data, which the hotspot uses to provide a Wi-Fi connection.
Step 1: Go to Settings > Connections > Mobile Hotspot and Tethering > Mobile Hotspot. Tap to switch it on. You can turn it off the same way.
Step 2: Make sure the Wi-Fi sharing option is switched on—otherwise you can’t connect other devices.
Step 3: To change the hotspot name, password, and other settings, tap on the Mobile Hotspot menu.
Step 1: Go to Settings > Network & Internet > Hotspot & Tethering.
Step 2: Tap Wi-Fi Hotspot to turn it on.
Step 3: Tap Wi-Fi Hotspot to edit the name of your hotspot.
To change your password, go to Advanced > Hotspot Password. If you want, tap Hide My Device to keep others from seeing your hotspot listed publicly. In the Advanced menu, you can also switch the AP Band to 5 GHz to improve your network connection.
Google Pixel phones
Step 1: Make your way to Settings > Network & internet > Hotspot & tethering.
Step 2: Toggle next to Off (to enable) or On (to disable).
Pro tip: Tethering through Bluetooth or USB
iPhones and Android devices let you tether other devices using USB or Bluetooth connections. You can tether only one device this way—as opposed to 10 or potentially even more on a hotspot. But it will do a better job of preserving your phone’s battery power.
To set it up, go to Settings > Mobile Hotspot & Tethering. Instead of selecting the mobile (or Wi-Fi) hotspot, hit the button that allows for USB or Bluetooth tethering. For USB tethering, plug a USB cable into your phone and plug the other end into your device to get the internet connection.
Step 1: On your Home screen, go to Settings > Network & internet > Tethering. Or it could be listed under Settings > Networks > Tethering.
Step 2: You’ll see a switch to turn on the hotspot, which will be labeled either Wi-Fi Hotspot or Mobile HotSpot (depending on the model of LG phone). Tap the button to turn it on.
Step 3: Go to Configure Mobile HotSpot to adjust settings like the name of the hotspot and the password. Then hit Save.
Step 1: The menu options for Huawei phones are all worded slightly differently, but the directions are pretty much the same. Access the hotspot and switch it on by going to Settings > Wireless & Networks.
Step 2: In Wireless & Networks, you will find a section called either Personal Hotspot or Tethering & Portable Hotspot. Just look for the word “hotspot,” and it will lead you to the button to switch it on. You’ll also find options for setting up the name, password, and more.
Pro tip: Use a tethering app to avoid fees and throttled speeds.
It doesn’t work as reliably as your phone’s hotspot, but it won’t put a dent on your monthly hotspot data cap or require you to upgrade your phone plan if you aren’t automatically allowed to set up hotspots. Just make sure to look over your cell provider’s terms of service to make sure it doesn’t conflict with your phone contract.
What is a phone Wi-Fi hotspot?
A phone Wi-Fi hotspot is an internet access point built into your smartphone, providing a Wi-Fi connection for other devices within its range. It works similarly to a wired internet connection like the one you have at home, only it uses wireless data from your cellular provider to get you internet access.
Make your phone a hotspot when you are . . .
- Staying in a vacation home
- Working at a restaurant or coffee shop
- Looking for Wi-Fi while your home internet is down
Just keep in mind that your phone’s Wi-Fi hotspot isn’t an adequate replacement for home internet. Hotspot data usually costs a lot more and the speeds aren’t as fast, so you’re still better off with a wired internet plan if you need a setup for day-in, day-out use. Or you can get a dedicated mobile hotspot.
Do you need a dedicated hotspot device other than your phone?
If you need internet regularly while traveling or working outside the office, it may be worth investing in a mobile hotspot separate from your phone’s hotspot.
While phone hotspots are easy and relatively cheap, standalone hotspots connect more devices, hit faster speeds, and often have a wider range. More advanced 5G hotspots have Wi-Fi 6 capability, helping them maintain an efficient connection while supporting a large number of devices. Also, having a separate hotspot means you won’t drain your phone’s battery.
Best phone hotspot plans
|Plan||Price||Hotspot data||View plans|
|T-Mobile Magenta MAX||$85.00/mo.*||40 GB (then reduced to 3G speeds)||View Plan|
|AT&T Unlimited Extra||$75.00/mo.||15 GB/mo.||View Plan|
|Visible||$25.00/mo.||Unlimited (limited to one device, with speeds up to 5 Mbps)||View Plan|
Data effective as of post date. Pricing and speeds are subject to change. Not all offers available in all areas.
*AutoPay Discount included: -$5/mo. per line
To use your phone’s hotspot, you’ll need a cellular plan that gives you hotspot data. Thankfully, plenty of phone plans give you just that. Major cellular companies often give you more hotspot data for your dollar, but MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) like Mint Mobile and Visible also have decent hotspot deals.
Expect to pay anywhere from $25 to $85 per month for a phone plan with hotspot data. Also, keep an eye out for your hotspot’s data cap—you usually can use only a finite amount of data per month before your speeds are slowed to a crawl or your hotspot connection is cut off entirely.
Can’t afford a hotspot? No worries—you can usually find free internet on the go at hotels, restaurants, and public facilities. Here’s how to find free public Wi-Fi hotspots.
Phone hotspot requirements
To set up a hotspot on your phone, you’ll need the following:
- A smartphone with hotspot capabilities
- A phone plan that allows you to set up personal hotspots
Android phones generally let you connect up to 10 devices simultaneously. For Apple, the maximum number of devices you can connect depends on the iPhone you have and what your wireless carrier allows.
How do I find my phone hotspot password?
To find your phone’s hotspot password, go to the hotspot menu under your phone’s settings. You’ll see a button that allows you to enable and disable the hotspot along with a section for configuring passwords and changing the name of your hotspot.
Author - Peter Holslin
Peter Holslin has more than a decade of experience working as a writer and freelance journalist. He graduated with a BA in liberal arts and journalism from New York City’s The New School University in 2008 and went on to contribute to publications like Rolling Stone, VICE, BuzzFeed, and countless others. At HighSpeedInternet.com, he focuses on covering 5G, nerding out about frequency bands and virtual RAN, and producing reviews on emerging services like 5G home internet. He also writes about internet providers and packages, hotspots, VPNs, and Wi-Fi troubleshooting.
Editor - Cara Haynes
Cara Haynes has been editing and writing in the digital space for seven years, and she's edited all things internet for HighSpeedInternet.com for five years. She graduated with a BA in English and a minor in editing from Brigham Young University. When she's not editing, she makes tech accessible through her freelance writing for brands like Pluralsight. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span.