Ever faced a situation like you are in a place with no cafe, mall or airport nearby and you need to get connected to the internet urgently from your laptop for some work? Well, do you know that you can use your cell phone as a wireless router to offer internet access to your laptop, tablet and other wifi devices to help you out in such cases?

That is, you can connect to the internet by the cellular signal on your phone and then share that connection with your laptop.

Nowadays, the majority of the smartphones have a built-in mobile hotspot feature. However, you will require to perform specific configuration settings to enable this feature.

You can generate internet connection for upto 5 devices using the mobile hotspot on your 3G phone and for upto 10 devices on your 4G LTE smartphone.

In this article, we will be discussing how to turn your cell phone into a mobile wifi- hotspot on your Android, iPhone, Blackberry and Windows phone.

So, let’s commence our discussion with Android.

How do I make my Android a hotspot?

Smartphones and tablets having Android 2.2 or higher versions have a built-in wifi data sharing feature.

With the help of a wifi hotspot, you can share your mobile data connection on your android devices with upto 5 more devices (like cell phones, tablets, laptops).

Turning on the portable wifi hotspot feature on the android device

The steps to turn on the wifi hotspot on your Android device are as follows:

  • Press the Menu button on your device when you are on the home screen and go to Settings.
  • On the Settings screen, tap Wireless and Networks option.
  • Beside the option for Portable Wifi hotspot, click the check mark to turn on the hotspot
  • Tap the Portable wifi hotspot settings option to adjust and check the settings, in case you do not know the default password created for the hotspot. You will need it for connecting the other devices.
  • In the Wifi hotspot settings, you may reset the default password, security level, router name (SSID) and manage the users connected wirelessly to your mobile.

Connecting to the newly created wifi hotspot

Connect your device to the hotspot just like you do for any other wifi router.

Your device is likely to notify you when new wireless networks are available. If not,  for an android phone, you can find them under:

Settings → Wireless & networks → wifi settings

Enter the password, you had earlier noted, for establishing the connection.

Can I turn my iPhone into a wifi hotspot?

iPhone has a feature named Personal Hotspot which turns the iPhone into a portable wifi hotspot and allows sharing of cellular data connection wirelessly with other devices.

This feature is present in iPhones running iOS 4.3 or higher versions.

Personal Hotspot is also known as ‘tethering’. Personal Hotspot allows sharing the cellular data connection with nearby devices via Wifi, Bluetooth or USB.

Turning on the Personal hotspot

It is very easy to turn on Personal Hotspot once it is enabled on your data plan. The steps are:

  • Tap Settings
  • Click Personal Hotspot and move the slider beside it. It turns green.

On iOS 6 and its previous versions, you need to proceed this way:

Go to Settings → Network → Personal Hotspot → Move the slider

Turning on the Personal Hotspot using Continuity

There is another feature on Apple devices called continuity, introduced in iOS 8 and Mac OS X 10.10 (Yosemite). This allows these devices to know when they are near to each other, permits to share features as well as control each other.

Assuming both Wifi and Bluetooth of your iPhone are turned on, you can proceed in the following way to turn on the Personal Hotspot

  • Click the Wifi menu on the Mac, considering your Mac and iPhone are close to each other
  • Under the Personal Hotspot section, find the name of the iPhone.
  • Click the name of the iPhone.
  • Personal Hotspot will be enabled, and your Mac will be connected to it, without even touching the iPhone.

Connecting the devices to the Personal Hotspot

Connecting other devices to the Personal Hotspot via wifi is effortless. Ask the users, who want to connect to it, to turn on the wifi on their devices and find the name of your iPhone (as displayed on the Personal Hotspot screen).

Instruct them to select it and provide them the password (written on Personal Hotspot screen of your iPhone).

Once other devices are linked to your iPhone’s hotspot, you will find a blue bar on the top of your screen and the lock screen. In iOS 7 and its higher versions, it shows a number too which denotes how many users are currently connected to your hotspot.

How can I use my Blackberry as a wifi hotspot?

BlackBerry users can also use their phone as a wifi hotspot. For this, they need to follow the steps given below:

Manage Connections → Wifi → Mobile Hotspot

BlackBerry needs a password by default, to secure the connectivity.

You can also change the network name (SSID), security type, allow or block data exchange between connected devices and automatically close the network. For this, you need to go to:

Options → Network and Connections → Mobile Hotspot Connections → Options.

If the BlackBerry device is on CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) network and if a call is initiated or received during this time, the smartphone suspends the Mobile Hotspot session until the call ends.

How to turn my Lumia into a wifi hotspot?

The mobile hotspot feature on the Windows phone is known as “Internet Sharing”. To share your Windows phone’s mobile data over wifi, you need to:

  • swipe right to the App list from the Start screen
  • Settings → Internet sharing
  • Turn the switch on

You can also modify the network name and set the security to WPA2 in the internet sharing screen. It is recommended to reset and enter a password, created by you.

Pros and Cons of a mobile hotspot

Pros

There are many benefits of using a cell phone as a wifi hotspot. Some of them are mentioned here.

  • You can provide wifi to other devices as long as your mobile has a cellular signal.
  • You do not require additional data plans for all the devices individually as you can offer the internet connection to all of them from your smartphone’s hotspot feature itself.
  • Most of the smartphones support multiple device connections today.
  • Your laptop or tablet can access internet in cases where there are no public wifi hotspots like the ones in cafe or airport etc.

Cons

Almost everything in this world has both positives and negatives. Likewise, using mobile hotspots also has certain disadvantages. They are

  • The speed of the portable wifi hotspot will generally be slower compared with your home’s high-speed internet.
  • Enabling your smartphone as a hotspot negatively affects the battery life of your phone and drains it rapidly.
  • When other devices are connecting to your smartphone, your phone is basically consuming its data plan only. Therefore, if you have a low data cap, it may soon get finished.

Are Tethering and Hotspot same?

In your smartphone, you may find the option “Mobile hotspots and Tethering”. The terms ‘tethering’ and ‘hotspot’ are often confused with each other.

Do you know their difference? Let us take a look.

Tethering is the process of using one device as a modem to access the internet from another device. Generally, the wired mode of accessing the internet is referred to as tethering.

For example, you connect your smartphone with your laptop via USB cable and the internet connection on the phone is shared between both the devices. However, it can also be done wirelessly (Wifi or Bluetooth).

On the other hand, a Wifi hotspot is a wireless access point that provides internet access to the devices connected. The devices can be your laptop, cell phone, PC or tablet.

When you use your cell phone to create a hotspot, it is portable and also allows multiple devices to connect to it.

Though mobile hotspot is an approach to tethering, both are slightly different. Let’s see how they differ.

Security

Tethering via wired connections, compared with hotspot, is undoubtedly more secure as the devices are connected through cables. The communication cannot be intercepted here.

But, connections through hotspots can be intercepted by attackers using software such as Wifi sniffers. Also, just because a hotspot needs a password for obtaining the connection does not necessarily mean it’s safe.

That is, it is possible that your online traffic is being monitored somewhere else. In addition to this, the risk of leaking sensitive information like login credentials and passwords prevails too.

Battery

Using hotspots more negatively affects the battery life of the device than using tethering.

Connectivity protocols and requirements

Tethering uses Network Address Translation (NAT) for sharing internet. In this case, the device sharing the internet has the public IP address. And, the other devices connected via tethering have private IP addresses.

This technique is called NAT as different devices are being identified from the point of view of a single public IP address.

Mobile hotspots supplied by different telecom providers consist of an adapter or device that allow the users to connect to the internet from anywhere.

Costing

Tethering is costlier than mobile hotspots. In the case of tethering, you may require to pay for each kilobyte of data sent over the cellular network. This may pile up to a massive bill for your cell phone if your rate of using the internet is very high.

But for hotspots, you need not worry about the data usage and use it as much as you want. Here, the owner of the hotspot pays a monthly service fee to the ISP. The best method is pay-as-you-use where you pay for the data you use and refill when necessary.

Conclusion

With cell phones turning into wifi hotspots, you need not worry anymore of going to places where there’s no Wifi. Nowadays, smartphones are indeed ‘smart’ as they can help us to get on the internet in this way.

Different cell phones follow various steps to turn themselves into a wifi hotspot. This option may be named differently in different smartphones. For example, it is available as ‘Personal Hotspot’ in iPhone but as ‘Internet Sharing’ in Windows phone.

We have already discussed the steps of turning cell phones of Android, iPhone, BlackBerry, and Windows into a wifi hotspot in this article.

Though hotspot is helpful in places where you urgently need an internet connection on your laptop or tablet with no wifi nearby and also, facilitates connection for multiple devices, yet it has few drawbacks.

It can degrade the battery life of your device and may have some security vulnerabilities. If you have a low data cap, your data plan may soon get exhausted.

Now a days, most of the phones come with this beautiful feature of mobile-hotspot built-in themselves.

WIFI hotspot means using a cell phone as a wireless router to offer internet access to a laptop, tablet and other wifi enabled devices.