How To: Setup a Mobile Hotspot

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Android Smartphones Tethering

Hotspoting is one of the most important features for Android smartphone users who travel frequently, or simply want to enjoy the high-speed LTE networks on their devices. Hotspot also has a synonym, a more common and less marketed word, tethering, but wireless carriers have worked hard to promote the more marketing-friendly term.

Setting up a mobile hotspot will convert your smartphone into a portable Wi-Fi router you can use for your other devices with enabled Wi-Fi. You are no longer dependant on your next destination’s Wi-Fi availability. With your smartphone tethered, you stay connected everywhere.

First, there are a couple of things to keep in mind before you go tethering. Most carriers provide mobile hotspot at an extra charge, but there are ways, of course, to tether your phone free of charge, some of them require rooting your device first. You must understand that rooted devices are no longer eligible for warranty cases. Luckily, there are easier ways to create a mobile hotspot without rooting, or paying the extra charge.

Part 1

The first guide is for the hotspot wireless carrier activation via a built-in smartphone function.

Hotspot 1

Instructions

Step 1. Go to Settings. On the left, you will see WiFi and Bluetooth options; there must be a Hotspot option, tap it.

If Hotspot is not on the main list in your Settings, tap More button to get to the Tethering and mobile hotspot.

Step 2. Once you tap tethering, you will be able to access different settings for setting up mobile hotspot. Enter the name of the mobile hotspot network you are creating.

Step 3. Enable a password if you need one, change the network type and set whatever you need according to your preferences.

Step 4. Once you are done with the setup, you need to activate the feature. On most devices, the mobile hotspot settings screen has the activation checkbox.

Step 5. When you activate the tethering, your phone will be displaying hotspot status notifications. Most likely, you will be prompted to activate the service with your wireless carrier. The notifications will inform you of incoming connections to your device.

Step 6. Once you see a notification that your hotspot is activated, you can get to your laptop and connect to your hotspot network just like you usually connect to a home or office Wi-Fi network.

Part 2

The second guide is for people who prefer alternative ways.

The advantage of this second alternative way is you can get tethering without any subscriptions with the help of free, simple apps available on Google Play. Moreover, you do not need to strain your brain to root your Android device in order to get this cool feature. For too many of us, tethering becomes crucial when it comes to being mobile and productive. In addition, unrestricted tethering gives you some peace of mind when you are on the go, or simply need to move around and still stay connected without relying on some occasional open WiFi zone in a café.

wifi-hotspot

There are a number of free apps on Google Play that offer free tethering, but let us focus on the proven and functional:

PDANet

PDANet comes free of charge on Google Play and charges $15.95 to unlock its full functionality. The app has been on the market for a long time, providing tethering for Android, BlackBerry, Palm OS and iOS devices, the latter requires jailbreaking.

The app enables you to share the connection you get on your Android smartphone with your computer via USB or Bluetooth connection. Your PC, or laptop, will need a specific driver to cooperate with your smarpthone, but driver installation normally launches automatically.

You can browse the Internet, but you cannot access secure websites unless you unlock the fully functional PDANet and pay a one-time price.

Features

– Wired tethering via USB or wireless via Bluetooth for Windows and Mac OS devices
– Conveniently displays live data usage
– Does not require a rooted Android device to work
– Includes an SMS agent
– Implements special protocols to conceal the fact that you are using a free hotspot from your wireless carrier
– The app is free during the first 14 days; once the trial period expires, you will not be able to access secure websites without buying the fully functional license.

Pros

We believe PDANet is one of the best tethering apps available on the market for Android devices, which also supports Mac OS and Windows systems. One unquestionable advantage of this app is that it gets super-sonic updates every time wireless carriers release a new sneaking algorithm to expose those users who use tethering without a special hotspot payment plan. Considering how fast and accurate the PDANet developers keep their app up-to-date with the latest counter-actions from carriers, a $16 one-time charge does not seem such a big sum.

The app is easy to install and use; it does not require rooting your device; it is reliable and it has support options for customers who have purchased a license, so in case you run into trouble, you can count on PDANet technical support, too.

Cons

As good as it is, PDANet does have its weak spots. For example, you do not connect wirelessly via Wi-Fi, which is a surprise. The price tag may be somewhat expensive for some users. In addition, PDANet requires a desktop client installed on the device you are planning to connect to your mobile hotspot. It is not a Co per se, but you must remember that before you hit the road. Otherwise, you will have to go through the setup process when you are on the go, which may not be the best way to focus.

Alternatives

Fox-Fi offers a simple setup – you just download and install the app, but mind that it supports a limited number of smartphones. However, it does not require rooting to get the wireless tethering. With compatible devices, Fox-Fi works like a charm; you need to assign a specific SSID for your network and the WPA2 password. Once these simple formalities are out of the way, you can tap into your smartphone’s connection from your laptop.

Wireless Tether for Root Users is a free app and probably the biggest competition to PDANet. This app has a pocketful of aces: it is free, easy to use, and it provides free hotspot access. You can connect your devices via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, setup your own network, password and encrypt your connection, control devices that access your smartphone’s hotspot and more powerful features. As the name suggests it, you have to have a rooted Android smartphone to be able to use this magic app, which may be somewhat challenging for the less tech savvy users. One other disadvantage is this app works wirelessly only and bugs out more often than PDANet, or at least that’s what the users report.

Barnacle WiFi Tether is a free app that allows you to turn your smartphone into a mobile hotspot. It requires root access, too, and it shows data usage in real time. Barnacle supports Linux, which may be an advantage for those of you who use Linux on their PCs. The disadvantage of Barnacle is two-fold: it does a great job when it works, but when it stops you are left on your own with troubleshooting the bug. The support or knowledgebase is pretty much inexistent, so unless you are a tech wizard, you may face a major challenge.

EasyTether comes at $9.99 and requires a desktop client for your PC or laptop to be able to connect to the wireless mobile hotspot. EasyTether does not require root access, and it supports Windows, Mac OS and Linux systems.

WiFI Tethering by OpenGarden is free of charge that requires root access, supports Linux, and offers a forum and a FAQ section to users who need tech support. It does not stand out feature-wise, but it is a nice alternative to keep in mind.

Finally, for those of you who went further and installed a ROM of your choice, such as CyanoGen or MIUI, those ROMs offer built-in tethering applications or features that fully substitute the need for a tethering app altogether.