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How to get free mobile hotspot from your Android phone

While most carriers now offer some sort of unlimited plan, but most of these have some restrictions (which is the textbook definition of irony, but I digress). The most common restriction is tethering data: while users can use their data on their phones for whatever they desire, using that same data bucket while connected to computer is either not allowed, or has limits.

There are features in Android that let carriers check if a user has paid for tethering or mobile hotspot — different carriers use those terms interchangeably — and disable the feature if the user doesn't have the feature on their plan.

There are some ways around this. Certain applications in the Play Store claim to help users bypass the carrier restrictions, and use their data however they intend. In our test case, we're evaluating applications while using a Pixel 2 XL and Cricket Wireless's Unlimited plan without official tethering.

EasyTether Full for Windows, macOS and Android tablets

EasyTether Full (opens in new tab) allows users to tether their laptop, desktop or tablet over USB or Bluetooth in order to share mobile data with the second device. Before trying to share data for the first time, users will need to download the necessary drivers or tablet-side application (opens in new tab).

The drivers and tablet application can be downloaded to the phone application and moved over via USB cord. Unfortunately, the tablet-side application does not allow data to be shared with a Chromebook, and ChromeOS does not allow for drivers to be installed by the user. Because of this, EasyTether will not work for Chromebook users.

Magisk manager for Chrome OS and everything else — Root required

Covering 98% of all users makes EasyTether simple to recommend, but there are some situations where it wouldn't be sufficient. Besides not being available to ChromeOS users, EasyTether also wouldn't work for users who want to connect a game console to their mobile data, or for anyone who needs to connect more than one device at once.

In these cases, the only working solution we found was to root the phone and install Magisk Manager. Within Magisk Manager, navigate to the package installer and scroll down to the package titled "Tethering Enabler." Press the down arrow within that block to download the package, and it will install. Once this is done, reboot your device, and you'll be able to use the hotspot feature as normal.

Other options

It seems like a bit of a cop out, but the best option may be a different plan or carrier. Writing this guide made me finally try MetroPCS after using Cricket for about two years, and I'm glad I tried them. T-Mobile — which owns MetroPCS — has much better coverage in Indianapolis, with my phone working perfectly in areas that were previous dead spots.

Another solution would be using a different phone

I was hesitant to try MetroPCS in my rural hometown, but I found out that T-Mobile has expanded their coverage there as well. It's not good by any definition of the word, but I can make phone calls, get text and instant messages and stream music (but not video). That's much more than I could say the last time I tried to use T-Mobile's service in my hometown. MetroPCS has an unlimited plan with tethering for the same price as my current Cricket plan, and I will be moving my personal line over soon.

Another solution would be using a different phone. I spent the better part of 2017 using the OnePlus 3T. One of the most handy features (for me) of Oxygen OS is that it doesn't have the hooks the carriers use to check if a user has paid for the tethering feature. Because of this, tethering just works whenever the user turns it on, regardless of whether the user has paid for tethering or not.

I also tried other applications from the Play Store that may or may not work. Some users on other carriers and with other phones have had success, but I did not. All of these applications have free tiers though, so they're worth a shot:

Did any of these methods work for you? Let us know down below!

20 Comments
  • FoxFi and PDAnet are the same thing, are they not? In my case, I do have tethering with my T-Mobile plan but it's metered and 802.11 wifi only. I prefer 802.11AC 5gHz band but it won't let me use that. However the PDAnet code I paid for eons ago to use on my Palm Pre also unlocks the Android version and I use that with a USB connection which is faster than the allowed wifi and also claims to hide my usage from T-Mobile. Not sure that works but I did use it to install the Creators Update for my Windows 10 laptop and eventually used 50Gigs of data total this month. Works great.
  • I paid for FoxFi back a few years ago, but on more recent phones/carriers it didn't always work. Blocking tethering, and limiting speed, were the main reasons I ditched Cricket.
  • My last 3 phones, purchased direct from the manufacturer (via Amazon) worked on tethering without any issues.
    I'm not a big data user, but once in a while it's nice to have it, when you are out on the road and need to look something
    up and don't want to pinch zoom the screen and what not.
    Yeah, the unlimited use types would probably abuse it, but data is data, and people should be able to use it as they want.
    But, the carriers make the rules
  • I checked foxfi/pdanet a few days ago when I got my new pixel 2 XL. It can work over wifi now but you have to have the app on both devices
  • I purchased the unlocked LG G6+ on Amazon and it doesn't check with Cricket for the hotspot feature.
  • I am on Cricket and use an unlocked from Samsung Note 8. Native tethering works fine without jumping through hoops.
  • Quick Question - If I am using a paid wi-fi, can I use hotspot ability to share with other devices ?
  • Techione, If your device is a laptop, then you could install a 2nd USB wifi adapter and use it as your open hotspot. While your primary WiFi adapter connects to the paid service. Else, if your using all mobile devices, using these apps in the article, you maybe able to share data using Bluetooth. In either case you have to have two adapters. One that connects to the WiFi service, and another adapter that your other devices connects to.
  • You could if your device allows for BlueTooth tethering. Generally your wifi antenna will only receive or broadcast not both.
  • Windows 10 has Hotspot. Check your laptop's settings.
  • I started using EasyTether back in the days of the Blackberry Storm. It always worked reliable tethered via USB on my windows and Linux laptop. A couple years ago I bought FoxFi because I wanted Wi-Fi capabilities and it worked flawless. With both I was never bothered by Verizon for tethering. Actually, I used my old "dumb" phones as modem (oh, those transfer speeds!) and big V didn't care either.
    Then, last year, I hooked into the new unlimited with Hotspot included and had no more use for tethering apps. But, again, both worked perfectly fine!
  • Hey, I would like to add something that you could include in this article! I actually figured out a new method myself for how to get the hotspot up and running on Samsung phones, especially on AT&T. Here's links to my two YouTube videos if anyone is interested:
    Newer, S8 and Note8 video: https://youtu.be/f8n6-ZrdIQg
    Older, S7 video (first one, still works): https://youtu.be/w3usivgCFSc
  • playback disabled in the video link fyi
  • I thought there was some court ruling years ago saying service providers couldn't block tethering on mobile phones? On my past phones, I've had to jump through all sorts of hoops to get my phone to tether but my GS7 on Verizon does it from the factory with no problems. Hell, my Comcast TV went out an hour before the SuperBowl and my S7 saved our party. I turned on the mobile hotspot, connected my Roku to it, then watched the game on a streaming channel. Worked perfectly.
  • Build Prop Editor (only if you're rooted)
  • Net.tethering.noprovisioning=true
    Tether_dun_required=0 Then run a VPN over your hotspot to encompass all devices.
    Iptables, and iproutes will need to be altered thru terminal to accomplish this but your carrier won't be able to differentiate what device your data is coming from
  • Watch "turning on mobile hotspot at&t lg g4 g5 without Root. https://youtu.be/3nFmloc3Cis Works great on my LG G5, AT&T. I have unlimited data plan, but not the plus plan, it's ridiculous that the phone companies want to charge more for Wi-Fi hotspot.
  • How do you change these settings?
  • I bypass the carrier check by starting the hotspot activation 2 seconds after reinserting the SIM card on my Pixel. The hotspot and mobile data activate at the same time allowing the connection. Took some practice to get the timing correct but works like a charm, I keep the SIM tool under the phone case and do this anytime my kids tablets need wifi on the road. No root or third party apps to deal with...
  • How is that even a thing? I never heard about something as stupid as blocking tethering. If I'm paying for data, I should be able to use it however the heck I want. If some carrier is greedy enough to want more money to enable it, just ditch it...