What Is A Mobile Hotspot? The Pros And Cons Unveiled

Someone 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.

What is a Mobile Hotspot | Should You Use it Often?

What You Need to Know About Your Phone’s Hotspot Feature

What You Need to Know About Mobile Hotspot | What is a mobile hotspot? The pros and cons of using your smartphone as a mobile hotspot
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 phone’s hotspot thinks it is connected via Wi-Fi network when in reality they are using the cellular data connection of your smartphone.

Here’s an example. Say you have an iPhone and an iPad (the Wi-Fi only version). Then you go somewhere where a public 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 personal 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.

Another noteworthy bit is the mobile connectivity, which is mainly 3G and LTE. LTE, also known as 4th Generation Long Term Evolution, is the upgraded version of the 3G and is 10 times faster than its predecessor. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s go back to the pros and cons of using your smartphone as a hotspot device.

Pros of Mobile Hotspots

Pros of Mobile Hotspots | What is a mobile hotspot? The pros and cons of using your smartphone as a mobile hotspot
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 personal hotspot.

Most personal hotspots allow for multiple connections, usually 5 or 10 of them. So when you enable your personal 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 of Mobile Hotspots

Cons of Mobile Hotspots | What is a mobile hotspot? The pros and cons of using your smartphone as a mobile hotspot
The portable Wi-Fi hotspot served up by your smartphone probably won’t be as fast as your home high-speed internet. Although with newer 4G speeds, the difference in speed is slowly diminishing.

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

Even though secondary devices connect to your hotspot feature via Wi-Fi, your smartphone is actually using your data plan. Worse yet, everyone connected via hotspot is ultimately using your LTE mobile 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.

How to Use Your Mobile Hotspot?

How to Use Your Mobile Hotspot? | What is a mobile hotspot? The pros and cons of using your smartphone as a mobile hotspot
To access your personal hotspot on your iPhone. Open up settings, click personal hotspot, and move the toggle to on. Your hotspot will appear, and it will allow you to set a password. Anyone can now access your hotspot through the mobile Wi-Fi options on their phone if they have your password.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use mobile hotspot courtesy of dottotech:

An LTE mobile hotspot allows smartphone owners to go online even if they are on the go. Its importance in today’s culture can’t be stressed enough especially for digital nomads, who need wi-fi hotspot for their work. With that said, take advantage of this technological breakthrough and have yourself a phone that is capable of being a portable wi-fi hotspot. Trust me, it will come in handy.

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

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2013 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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2 Comments

  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!)

    • Patric Welch

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

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