Galaxy Nexus Update Improves Portable Hotspot Feature

Verizon pushed out the first official update to the Samsung Galaxy Nexus this week, fixing several bugs and improving overall performance. Perhaps one unsung improvement is the Galaxy Nexus can finally operate as a full-fledged portable hotspot.

The portable hotspot feature allows users to share the Galaxy Nexus’ wireless Internet connection with up to 10 other Wi-Fi devices. That means a single Verizon 4G LTE subscriber can be the hero for a room full of Internet-less laptop users at a meeting or conference. More often, Verizon’s portable hotspot users simply connect their own laptops and iPads to their smartphones to avoid paying for multiple wireless subscriptions. Verizon charges $30 per month for the portable hotspot feature, which is on top of data, voice and messaging fees.

(Read: Galaxy Nexus Review)

The HTC Thunderbolt was the first Verizon phone with 4G LTE and came with a free portable hotspot trial, allowing users to get hooked on using the blazing fast service on all of their devices. The portable hotspot feature worked quite well on the HTC Thunderbolt, but it wasn’t perfect. The occasional random drops were bearable considering the service was free.

Once the trial was over I began paying the $30 per month fee. I burned through as much as 17GB in a single month as I used my Thunderbolt as my primary Internet connection while traveling for a couple of weeks. I watched entire three-hour baseball games, uploaded videos to YouTube and worked on my laptop all day long.

All of that changed after I upgraded to the Galaxy Nexus almost six months ago. I couldn’t use the Galaxy Nexus to surf on my MacBook long enough to get through a cup of coffee. Sometimes toggling the hotspot off and on would fix the issue, but it was easier to track down a Wi-Fi password or use my iPhone 4S as a portable hotspot. More recently, I’ve resorted to using my iPad ‘s rock-solid 4G LTE portable hotspot feature, which also runs on Verizon’s network.

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Side by side, the iPad trounced the Galaxy Nexus’ hotspot in terms of reliability. Until Wednesday afternoon. I fired up the portable hotspot feature immediately after upgrading my Galaxy Nexus. I connected both my iPhone and MacBook Air via Wi-Fi, and used the connection to work online for more than five hours. My MacBook Air lost Internet access twice, but I was able to get back online after reconnecting to the Nexus’ network.

While a single session from a single location isn’t enough to restore complete faith in the Galaxy Nexus’ portable hotspot feature, it’s a very positive sign. If you cancelled the portable hotspot feature due to performance issues you may want to give it another go after upgrading to Android 4.04.

Nexus series phones are supposed to showcase the latest Android operating system and features. Offering a ‘vanilla’ experience, Nexus phones are void of manufacturers’ skins and carriers’ apps, which are often impossible to remove. Many Nexus customers are after a pure Google experience, which typically includes rapid system updates.

Comments

  1. Nick says

    Xavier -

    Thanks for the post! Glad to know that I am not alone, the 4.0.4 has taken the feature on the nexus from 60% to 95%, but I still get disconnected every 1/2 hour or so most of the time. Verizon is no help either, they told me it’s bad coverage in my area, despite 3 to 4 bars of 4g coverage. Sigh. I wish I kept my no-contract AT&T plan, and just got the unlocked gnex, or S3, or maybe even iPhone 4S. I use the hotspot at least once a week for work, can’t have it crashing all the time.

    Nick

    • Flavio says

      My Galaxy Nexus has 4.1.1 and still works much less reliably as a portable hotspot than the iPhone. Often I have to turn off and then back on the portable hotspot to bring back the connection, or sometimes even restart the whole phone.

      Flavio.

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