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How to Turn Your Android Phone into a Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot

The "Mobile Hotspot" settings in Android.
Ben Stockton

Public Wi-Fi is freely available, but it does come with risks. If you enable the hotspot feature on your Android handset instead, you can create a portable Wi-Fi network and connect other devices to the internet.

Mobile Wi-Fi hotspots are useful in other situations, too. For example, if your internet connection goes down at home, you can switch to your hotspot and get your other devices back online in seconds.

Thanks to Android fragmentation, the steps to set up your mobile hotspot might vary, depending on your phone’s manufacturer and the version of Android it’s running.

Configure Your Phone’s Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot

Android has included some form of a Wi-Fi hotspot since 2.2 Froyo, so it should be available on your phone. However, you need to check with your mobile carrier to see if your plan allows you to share your data connection.

To create your Wi-Fi hotspot, open your device settings; you can do this from the apps drawer. Or swipe down on your display to view the notifications shade, and then tap the gear icon at the top right.

Tap the gear icon.

The next step varies depending on your device. On a Samsung device, tap “Connections”; otherwise tap “Network & Internet.”

Tap "Connections."

Tap “Mobile Hotspot and Tethering” on a Samsung device, or “Hotspot & Tethering” on other Android devices.

Tap "Mobile Hotspot and Tethering."

On a Samsung, tap “Mobile Hotspot” to configure it—don’t tap the toggle unless you’ve already configured your hotspot. On other Android devices, tap “Set Up Wi-Fi Hotspot” under “Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot.”

Tap "Mobile Hotspot."

On most Android devices, you configure your Wi-Fi hotspot in this menu. Choose a suitable network name, a password, a Wi-Fi security option, and then tap “Save.”

If you use a Samsung device, tap the hamburger menu at the top left, and then tap “Configure Mobile Hotspot” to access these settings.

Tap "Configure Mobile Hotspot."

You can then customize your network name, password, and Wi-Fi settings in more detail. When you’re finished, tap “Save.”

Tap "Save."

Enable Android’s Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot

After you configure your Wi-Fi hotspot, toggle-On the “Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot” (most Android devices) or “Mobile Hotspot” (Samsung).

Tap the "Mobile Hotspot" toggle to turn it on.

Android might warn you about increased data and battery usage; tap “OK” to confirm. Your Wi-Fi hotspot is now active and ready to connect.

Tap "OK" to accept the Android warning.

Once your mobile hotspot is active, it should appear the same as any other Wi-Fi network on your other devices. Use the password you selected during setup to connect.

You can also quickly enable or disable the feature from quick actions in the notifications shade. Swipe down on your display to view your notifications shade and reveal your quick actions. Tap “Hotspot” or “Mobile Hotspot” (depending on your device) and enable or disable it.

Tap "Mobile Hotspot" in the Notifications Shade.

If you plan to connect multiple devices to your Android Wi-Fi hotspot, you do need to keep your data usage in mind. On Android, you can monitor and restrict your data usage if you have a limited allowance.

RELATED: How to Monitor (and Reduce) Your Data Usage on Android

If you apply a data cap to your device, Android automatically disables your data connection when you reach the limit.

Tethering Restrictions and Third-Party Apps

You can create Wi-Fi hotspots with third-party apps available in the Google Play Store, but most people shouldn’t have to bother with these. The built-in Android hotspot method works fine for most people who need to set up a Wi-Fi network to use with other devices.

However, if your carrier doesn’t allow you to tether other devices to your phone, the standard Android hotspot method might not work for you. Your carrier might also place restrictions on data usage for devices that connect via hotspot.

Apps like PdaNet+ offer a work-around, but you might find you need a rooted phone to bypass tethering restrictions on your Android phone completely. And keep in mind this probably violates your carrier’s terms and conditions.