Smartphones are now well equipped for online use, with large displays that show webpages off brilliantly and 4G connections that speed up the process no end. Many services, like newspapers and social networks, now offer apps that tailor what they offer to the mobile arena, meaning that most casual online use can be done from your handset.
Nevertheless, there may be times when you’re out and about and need to use a laptop or tablet online. It’s these occasions when your smartphone can still come to your aid, acting as a mobile modem in a process known as tethering. Here we look at the best ways to do it.
Most high-end smartphones are capable of creating their own Wi-Fi hotspots, so other devices can be connected to them in the same way you would hook them up to your home Wi-Fi network. However, you can also use a USB cable to attach a smartphone to a laptop and make use of its mobile data connection.
Other gadgets can be used, such as a Bluetooth USB dongle, which can be plugged into a computer to share the phone’s internet connection. Whichever method you choose, any of these gadgets can be picked up with very little expense at all.
Most leading mobile platforms now support tethering as a native feature, often allowing the function to be accessed through the Settings menu. However, this can be made quicker if you’re using Android as you’ll be able to download the Hotspot Toggle Widget, which allows you to place a simple control on your homescreen that will switch your handset’s mobile hotpot on and off.
There are several other apps that can be used to manage tethered connections on your handset, such as FoxFi, which lets you change the name of the network that your handset creates along with the password needed to access it.
How to use it
Remember that connecting a device to your smartphone via tethering means you’ll be using the handset’s mobile data and that this could incur big costs from your network provider. Keep an eye on what it is you are doing and use the connection sparingly; going over your data limit can be an expensive business.
Also, data speeds could be significantly slower than they would be over a regular Wi-Fi connection and could be interrupted if you move outside of an area with good 3G or 4G coverage. If you’re on a train and need to do some work on your laptop you could be in for annoying, intermittent coverage as you travel. Nevertheless, heed the instructions above and tethering should see you being able to enjoy excellent online performance when you’re out and about.