It’s hard to believe in 2019, but some places still don’t provide Wi-Fi. But what if you need to work in, say, a steadfastly traditional pub, cattle-class train or even on the beach? As long as you have an Android phone or iPhone with data to spare, the world is your office. Here’s how to use your phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot.
However, a couple of notes before we begin. First, and this is an obvious one, you’ll need to make sure that your phone has a healthy 4G signal and plenty of battery. Using your phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot does consume more battery power than normal.
Secondly, and most importantly, if you have a data allowance at the lower end of the spectrum (2GB or below per month, say), you should only use your phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot in emergencies. If not, you could end up having to pay hefty data add-ons.
Use your Android phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot
Using an Android phone as a hotspot for your laptop is straightforward. However, the process varies slightly from handset to handset, so if the steps I give below don’t match what you see then use them as a rough guide rather than exact instructions.
First, head into Settings. Then tap on “Network & Internet” or, if that isn’t shown on your phone, a setting along the lines of “Wireless & networks”.
If you see a screen as above, select “Hotspot & tethering”. However, at this point some phones show “Personal hotspot” as an option. You can jump straight to this rather than follow the next two steps.
If you see the below screen, it’s time to get the hotspot up and running by tapping “Set up Wi-Fi hotspot”.
Android hotspot: setting the password
If you followed the final step above, the pop-up below will appear. The first thing to do is choose the name of your hotspot (as you can see, I’ve been very imaginative with mine). You then need to set a complex password of at least eight letters.
Once you’re done, tap Save. This will bring you back to the “Hotspot & tethering” menu, where you need to toggle the “Mobile Wi-Fi hotspot” to on.
As you can see, it usefully says that the Wi-Fi hotspot is active and ready to be used. A new icon (a dot surrounded by two circles) will also appear at the top of the phone to let you know that you’re broadcasting a hotspot.
Now crack out your laptop or tablet. Open up the list of available Wi-Fi networks in the usual way (by clicking the Wi-Fi icon at the top of the screen if you’re using a Mac, or at the bottom right if you have a Windows machine). Your hotspot should be listed there in all its glory…
Click on it, enter the password you set earlier and start working. Remember that you can use your smartphone normally while the hotspot is active, but, obviously, you’ll need to keep it close to your laptop.
There’s no need to go through all these steps every time you want to use your Android phone as a hotspot. Once it’s set up, you can drag down from the top of the screen and select “Hotspot” from the shortcuts.
Use your iPhone phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot
The process is very similar if you’re an iPhone user. To get started, open the Settings app and tap Mobile Data. On the page that appears, select “Personal Hotspot”. The following page will appear…
Next to “Wi-Fi Password” will be an automatically generated password for your hotspot (I’ve blurred mine out here), above a list of ways you can connect.
If you want to change the password to something more memorable – but still complex – tap on the password field and then enter it into the box that appears.
All that’s left to do is return to the Personal Hotspot page and switch it on.
And that’s it: you can now open your laptop or switch on your tablet, go to the list of available Wi-Fi networks, select your hotspot (it will appear as “iPhone”) and then enter the password you set earlier.
Alternatively, as you can see from the screenshot above, you can connect your phone to your machine via USB for an even more secure wired connection, or even connect via Bluetooth.
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