mobile hotspotSomeone once asked me what the pros and cons were for using your smartphone as a mobile hotspot. Great question. But before I answer it, let’s do a quick review of what a mobile hotspot is.

A mobile hotspot refers to the ability some (make that most) smartphones have to broadcast a Wi-Fi signal that other devices can connect to. Each device connecting to your mobile hotspot thinks it is connected via Wi-Fi when in reality they are using the cellular data connection of your smartphone.

Here’s an example. Say you have an iPhone 5 and an iPad (the Wi-Fi only version). Then you go somewhere where a Wi-Fi signal is not available. Your iPad is Wi-Fi only so you’re out of luck, right? Wrong. A touch here and a touch there on your smartphone and your mobile hotspot is enabled and now broadcasting a Wi-Fi signal that your iPad can connect to. Your iPad doesn’t know the better of it. It thinks it is connected Wi-Fi but really your smartphone is doing all the heavy lifting via its cellular data signal.

Ok, now that we have that out of the way, let’s go back to the pros and cons of using your smartphone as a mobile hotspot. Here they are:

Pros

A mobile hotspot basically gives you Wi-Fi on-the-go. As long as your smartphone has a cellular signal, you can provide Wi-Fi for other devices.

There’s no need for individual data plans for all of your devices. In fact, there’s really no need to buy secondary devices (like an iPad with built-in 3G or 4G) when you can just get the Wi-Fi only version and connect it to your smartphone’s mobile hotspot.

Most mobile hotspots allow for multiple connections, usually 5 or 10 of them. So when you enable your mobile hotspot, your iPad can connect to it but so can your brother’s Kindle, your mom’s Kindle and your cousin’s iPod Touch.

Cons

The Wi-Fi served up by your smartphone’s mobile hotspot probably won’t be as fast as your home Wi-Fi. Although with newer 4G speeds, the difference in speed is slowly diminishing.

Enabling mobile hotspot puts a huge drain on your smartphone’s battery. Plan on having your smartphone plugged in when the mobile hotspot is enabled or expect the battery to fade out quickly.

Even though secondary devices connect to your mobile hotspot via Wi-Fi, your smartphone is actually using your data plan. Worse yet, everyone connected to your mobile hotspot is ultimately using your data plan. If you have a low data cap (like 1 GB), don’t let people connected to your mobile hotspot download large files or stream videos.

What’s your experience?

Did I miss anything? What’s your experience using the mobile hotspot feature of your smartphone? Leave a comment below and give me your feedback.

2 thoughts on “The pros and cons of using your smartphone as a mobile hotspot

  1. asudduth

    Probably goes without saying, but you only mentioned tablet/media devices (iPod, iPad, Kindle, etc) and of course there is no problem connecting any devices that use WiFi, including a laptop or desktop computer. (Did your home Internet service go out and you need to do something important? Use your phone as a hotspot!)

    • Great advice! (especially if you have Comcast for your Internet)

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