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How to Tether Laptop to Android Phone

Use your phone as a portable modem

  • Tethering allows you to use your phone as an internet modem
  • You can tether wirelessly or via cable
  • Carriers control access

If you’re away from your office and not able to use a dedicated 3G/4G modem or rent the use of a secure WiFi hotspot then your Android smartphone offers two ways for your laptop computer to access the internet so you can check email, VPN into your corporate computer network or complete online checkin for a flight.

Note: The usefulness of Portable WiFi Hotspot and Tethering functionality depends very much on the signal strength, reliability and speed of the 3G/4G data network used by your Android mobile phone. We have used it at remote office locations where there was only 2G mobile data and it took 10 minutes to send a small email attachment as well as in large cities where hundreds of megabytes of files were transmitted within a few minutes using a 4G mobile network.

  1. Portable WiFi Hotspot– Wirelessly connects your laptop to your Android smartphone so the laptop can access the internet. The advantage is no cable is required. The disadvantage is that it uses a lot of your phone battery, so how long you can use it depends on the charge level of your phone battery when you start.
  2. Tethering – A MicroUSB cable is used to connect your phone’s microUSB port to one of your laptops USB ports. The advantage of this method is that your phone battery gets depleted slower when tethered compared to used as a hotspot, as the phone recharges from the laptop battery. The disadvantage is that you have to carry a microUSB cable in your laptop case.

The following instructions are for the Samsung Galaxy S II running Android 2.3.X Gingerbread version.

Setting up a Portable WiFi Hotspot


  1. Open the Settings menu
  2. Choose the Wireless and network option
  3. Choose Tethering and portable hotspot at the bottom of screen
  4. Choose Portable Wi-Fi hotspot setting
  1. Read the introduction to WiFi hotspots and tick “do not show again”
  2. For Network SSID choose a unique name for your WiFi hotspot, not too long in length or commonplace a word
  3. Select WPA2 PSK for Security level
  4. Choose a good password. Not the word “password” or the same as your Network SSID.
  5. Save. Your WiFi Hotspot is now active with the checkbox ticked.
  6. Turn on your laptop or other device that needs WiFi and search for nearby WiFi networks
  7. Choose the Network SSID name you chose eg: “Sams hotspot”
  8. Enter the password you chose and Connect.
  9. Your laptop should now be connected to the internet wirelessly using your Android smartphone’s 3G/4G data access.
  10. When finished using the WiFi go back into the Android Wireless and Network settings and untick the checkbox for the WiFi Hotspot.

Setting up Tethering

  1. Open the Settings menu
  2. Choose the Wireless and network option
  3. Choose Tethering and portable hotspot at the bottom of screen
  4. Find your Micro USB cable, connect one end of the cable to your Android smartphone and the other end to the USB port of your laptop (which is already on and logged in to Windows/Mac OSX).
  5. Your laptop may now install some drivers (special software) to be able to communicate with the Android smartphone. If this fails contact your laptop help line, abandon tethering process and use the Portable WiFi Hotspot process instead.
  6. The USB Tethering option on the Android smartphone screen should now be un-greyed and say “USB Connected. Tick to tether”
  7. Tick the checkbox
  8. Tethering is now active
  9. Your laptop should now be connected to the internet through the microUSB cable using your Android smartphone’s 3G/4G data access.
  10. When finished go back into the Android Wireless and Network settings and untick the checkbox for Tethering.
  11. Unplug the microUSB cable from your phone and laptop, store it away safely in your laptop case.


Caution: Some mobile phone carriers (especially US carriers) block Android tethering and/or portable WiFi hotspot functionality, unless you pay them an extra monthly fee. Other mobile phone carriers such as those in Australia allow Android phones on their network to be tethered or used as portable WiFi hotspots without extra charge. Call your carrier to check if they allow Android phones on their network to use tethering and WiFi for free.

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