How to Use My Android Phone as a Hotspot
The mobile hotspot function first became available on Android devices with the release of Android 2.2, also called Froyo. Subsequent releases, including Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), continue to support mobile hotspots. Although the function isn't available on every phone, it is supported by at least a few phones from all four major carriers: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon. HTC, Motorola, Samsung and LG all make phones capable of creating a mobile hotspot. If you're away from a Wi-Fi connection, you can use the portable hotspot function on your Android smartphone to share your connection with a laptop or tablet, making it easy to keep up work while on the go. Enabling the hotspot creates a Wi-Fi network that anyone within range can use to connect to the Internet. This connection uses your data plan, so be warned that overuse can lead to bandwidth throttling or hefty overage charges. Keep strangers from leeching off your bandwidth by securing the hotspot with a password.
Press "Home," "Menu," "Settings" on your compatible Android phone.
Tap "Wireless & Networks" and then "Tethering and Portable Hotspot." Check the "Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot" option. A Wi-Fi symbol will appear on the status bar and notifications panel to indicate that your phone is now broadcasting a signal.
Tap "Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot Settings" and then"Configure Wi-Fi Hotspot." Change the SSID -- the network name -- if you want to.
Select "WPA2 PSK" under the Security settings. Enter a secure password for the hotspot connection. For the strongest security, use a mix of numbers and letters at least eight characters long and avoid words found in the dictionary. Tap "Save."
Open the Wi-Fi settings on your tablet or computer. Choose the SSID that corresponds with your mobile hotspot and enter the password you created to connect to the new network.
Close the hotspot when you're finished using it to preserve battery life. Open the Settings application and tap "Wireless & Networks" and then "Tethering & Portable Hotspot." Uncheck "Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot."
Tips & Warnings
- AT&T Mobile requires a compatible smartphone (see "AT&T Wireless Support: About Personal Mobile Hotspots" in the Resources) and a 4GB DataPro data plan. If you exceed the amount of data offered by your data plan, AT&T will charge you an additional fee for each gigabyte used in excess of your plan.
- T-Mobile users need a compatible phone and a data plan of at least 2GB as well as a subscription to the SmartPhone Mobile Hotspot feature. See "T-Mobile: Supported Devices: Smartphone Mobile HotSpot" in the Resources section for a list of compatible devices.
- Creating a hotspot with a Verizon Wireless plan requires a subscription to a data package that includes Mobile Hotspot. The addition of the Mobile Hotspot feature adds an extra 2GB of data to your regular data package. Some of the Verizon phones that support the mobile hotspot functionality include devices like the HTC Rezound, Motorola Droid Razr and Samsung Galaxy Nexus.
- Sprint subscribers must add the Mobile Hotspot feature (for an additional charge) to use the hotspot functionality. Compatible devices include the Samsung Conquer 4G, HTC Evo 4G and Samsung Galaxy S.
- If you're using an older device without mobile hotspot capability, a third-party program can give you the same effect, but requires a rooted device.
- Exceeding your data plan can result in expensive overage charges. Consider downloading a data usage monitoring app, like My Data Monitor, Onavo or PhoneUsage from Google Play to help keep an eye on how much data you're consuming.
References & Resources
- Google: Android 2.3.4 User's Guide (PDF)
- T-Mobile Support: Smartphone Mobile Hotspot
- Verizon Wireless: Data Packages
- Sprint: Add Mobile Hotspot to Your Phone or Tablet
- The Android Soul: Best Android Data Usage Apps for Monitoring 3G/2G/Wi-Fi Usage
- AT&T Wireless Support: About Personal Mobile Hotspots
- T-Mobile: Supported Devices: Smartphone Mobile HotSpot
- Computerworld: Wi-Fi Tethering: Smartphones with Mobile Hotspot Capabilities
- Google Project Hosting: Android Wi-Fi Tether