The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 can act as a personal hotspot, a portable internet connection that can be shared to the millions of iPad, Nexus 7 and laptops we use, and let them connect to the internet anywhere there is a cell phone signal.
Whether you call it a personal hotspot, portable hotspot, Mobile hotspot or just tethering — we’re talking about using the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 to connect other devices to the internet. Our smartphones signal and internet connection for data can be shared and essentially deliver faster speeds than many home networks to your laptop or tablet, no matter where you are.
It’s a concept and feature many users still don’t understand, but below we’ll explain just how easy it is to use your Galaxy Note 3 (or any Android phone really) as a personal hotspot and internet connection.
The most common and preferred method is to use WiFi tethering. Essentially sharing your phones connection over WiFi to any of your devices. Whether this be your laptop, or sharing it with tablets in the car for your kids. It’s similar to how you connect to the Starbucks WiFi on an iPad, only it’s using your phones connection. Alternatively there’s also wired USB tethering, so your Galaxy Note 3 can charge while it shares that connection to your Macbook, or laptop of choice.
The easiest way to do this requires users to have an account through their carrier with support for the hotspot function, which sadly will usually cost an extra $15-$20 a month unless you’re on some of the recent high limit data plans. Many of the mobile share plans however have hotspot enabled, just make sure you don’t use it all and go over the limit. It’s the easiest way around, but it’ll cost ya.
Below we’ll explain where to go in settings to enable the personal hotspot, how to change the name and add a password so others can’t use it if you’re in public, then how to actually connect your laptop or tablet to your Galaxy Note 3 hotspot.
To enable a wireless personal hotspot you’ll start by heading into settings by tapping the gear-shaped settings icon, or swiping down and hitting settings in the notification pulldown bar. The first tab on the Note 3 is connections, and it’s one of the first options.
Settings > Tethering and hotspot > and swipe the on/off switch to turn it on.
This will turn on tethering with all of the default settings, so you’ll want to change them and add a password if you’re in public so others can’t use it too. Next you’ll tap “configure hotspot” and change the name from Note 3 to something more personal, and make sure to add a password. WPA2 is the most secure, enter the password, and hit save.
Now when you head back to the original settings hotspot page it will show the name, and any connected devices. Alternatively you can manage what devices are allowed to connect, for added security and connectivity control. Let the kids tablet connect while on the road, or whoever you’d like.
Your iPad or laptop can now simply search for a WiFi connection just like you always do, find the Note 3 with the name you created, enter the password and you’re set. You’re now using its internet connection on another device. Again, if you don’t have an unlimited data plan be careful, as you can quickly use your entire months limit and get stuck with huge overage charges.
In the same Tethering and hotspot menu in settings, you’ll notice there’s also a “USB tethering” option below the WiFi hotspot on/off switch. Instead of sharing the connection over WiFi where anyone can connect, USB tethering uses the micro-USB cable provided with your Note 3. Plug this into your laptop, and into the Note 3, and you can share the internet connection via USB. This is faster, more secure, usually more stable, and will even charge the Galaxy Note 3 at the same time.
Using USB is our preferred method for tethering and using a hotspot function, not to mention it charges up your device at the same time to keep you full of battery for a days work.
If your carrier happens to be one that wants to charge $10 or $20 for the hotspot function, or it doesn’t come free with your carrier plan, there are a few other options. In the Google Play Store you can find “Tether without root” apps that once setup, will enable USB tethering to share the internet connection all for free. Our favorite is Klink, since it’s a simple wired connection, but Easy Tether Pro and other options are also available.
Some third party options require root access (Android’s version of Jailbreak) and some don’t. Unless you’re an advanced user the tether without root options are your best bet.
Last but not least, it’s a good idea to add a data usage reminder or alert so you don’t spend all of that 5GB data plan. Head into Settings > connections > data usage and set the slider at an appropriate limit.