How to turn your Android smartphone into a mobile WiFi hotspot

One might think that Wi-Fi is such a widespread technology that no matter where you go, you will have access to a free hotspot and the internet. Unfortunately, while Wi-Fi is indeed very popular, it is far from being available everywhere. You might encounter situations when you need internet access, but there is no wireless network nearby. When that happens, you can use your smartphone, and your 3G or 4G data plan to share its internet connection. You do not even have to use a cable. This tutorial covers all steps required to share your Android smartphone's mobile network connection with other devices and turn it into a mobile wireless hotspot:

NOTE: For creating this tutorial, we used a Motorola Nexus 6 smartphone with Android 7.1.1 Nougat. The procedures are similar on all Android-powered devices, so you should be good to go even if you are running a different version of Android on your device.

When and why would you want to use a mobile hotspot?

The number of possibilities is large, but they all boil down to a single problem: you need internet access and do not have any wireless or wired network to connect to. Usually, all mobile network operators have mobile internet coverage wherever there is cellular signal so that you can make use of this instead of Wi-Fi.

Creating a portable hotspot on your Android smartphone allows you to share the its mobile data connection via Wi-Fi so that other devices can connect to the internet through it.

Of course, using your mobile data plan can incur additional charges. Make sure that you have enough traffic left on your monthly plan, or switch to an unlimited mobile data plan if you need to use this feature often.

Note that you cannot connect to any wireless networks on your smartphone while the hotspot is active since it uses the Wi-Fi antenna to allow other devices to connect to the hotspot.

Step 1. Open the Android mobile Wi-Fi hotspot settings

The first thing you have to do is open the Settings screen. Tap on the "All apps" icon on your smartphone's home screen. You can usually find it at the center of the bottom row, looking like a grid of dots.

When the list of all your apps opens, look for the Settings icon: the symbol is a wrench or a cogwheel, most of the times.

The first part of the Settings screen on Android is usually the "Wireless & networks" section, and this is what we are looking for: tap More to access the additional wireless settings.

Then, tap on "Tethering & portable hotspot" to start setting up your hotspot.

Step 2. Configure the Android mobile Wi-Fi hotspot settings

On the "Tethering & portable hotspot" screen you get access to the hotspot's configuration, to its On/Off switch and also to other tethering features. If you already configured your Android's mobile hotspot settings, you can go ahead and simply enable it to use it. However, if this is the first time you have done this, before actually turning on the mobile hotspot, you should first tap "Set up Wi-Fi hotspot" to configure the hotspot settings.

On this screen, you can do three things:

  • Give the hotspot a name: enter it in the "Network name" field. This is the network that you will connect to, on your computer and other devices
  • Choose the type of security used for the hotspot. In the Security drop-down menu choose None to disable security, and the connection will not require a password (this is not recommended!). We recommend that you choose the other type of security, WPA2 PSK and enter a password that is at least eight characters long. You might want to check the Show password box to make sure that you have typed just what you wanted.
  • Select the network band that the mobile hotspot will broadcast on. This lets you choose to broadcast the mobile Wi-Fi hotspot on the 2.4GHz or the 5GHz radio frequency. However, note that you get this option only if your device has a wireless chip that supports 5GHz. For best compatibility with most mobile devices, you should use the 2.4GHz band.

When you have finished configuring all the settings, tap Save to save and apply them.

Step 3. Turn the Android mobile Wi-Fi hotspot on

Once you are done with the setup, tap "Portable Wi-Fi hotspot" switch to turn the hotspot on.

Once you turn the mobile Wi-Fi hotspot on, some Android devices might display a notification about it. Others, like the Motorola Nexus 6, only show a small hotspot icon on the signal bar at the top of the screen.

Now you can connect your devices to the newly created wireless hotspot.

How to turn off an Android mobile Wi-Fi hotspot

Turning off the mobile hotspot is just as easy as turning it on. You need to follow the same steps you did when you turned it on:

From your smartphone's main screen, tap All apps (the six little dots icon), then Settings. Look for More, under "Wireless & Networks" and tap on it. Then tap "Tethering & portable hotspot," and finally tap again on "Portable Wi-Fi hotspot" to turn it off.

We suggest turning the hotspot off when you are not using it, to save power and decrease mobile data traffic.

Conclusion

Setting up a portable hotspot is easy on Android, and it can be a lifesaving feature: whether your router malfunctioned or you are somewhere with no access to Wi-Fi, it can let you use your smartphone's data plan to access the internet on other devices. If you have any questions regarding hotspots on Android, let us know in the comments. Also, if you had any funny stories where a mobile hotspot got you out of a sticky situation, please, share them with us.