On your Android smartphone, you will usually find both USB and Bluetooth tethering features listed in the same menu as Wireless hotspot. Bluetooth tethering is not as popular as Wi-Fi hotspot sharing, but it has its advantages and your smartphone has this feature built-in. This guide shows you how it works, as well as its advantages and disadvantages.
We are in the sharing age. Everybody has something to share. One of the things that modern smartphones share is their mobile Internet subscription, and usually that is via Wi-Fi hotspot. We share our Internet with our other devices, and we share with devices owned by family and friends too. Not a lot of people know that they can share their smartphone’s Internet via Bluetooth.
Internet tethering is the act of sharing your device’s internet with one or more devices. There are different media for internet tethering. They include:
- Wi-Fi hotspot
- USB tethering
- Bluetooth tethering
These days, it is more common to tether laptops and gadgets via Wi-Fi. If you have a smartphone mobile hotspot functionality, you can simply share your mobile internet with your PC and other gadgets via Wi-Fi hotspot.
However, the option to tether via Bluetooth is also available on some platforms. Yes; it has some advantages over Wi-Fi tethering, as well as disadvantages. USB tethering is also possible, but does anyone still do that these days? It is good that you know it is there though, as you just might find it helpful some day. So, let’s have a look at what Bluetooth tethering has to offer us.
Advantages and disadvantages of Bluetooth Tethering
- Low power consumption. Bluetooth is more power-efficient than Wi-Fi, so your batteries will last much longer if you tether via Bluetooth. Modern smartphones are very energy efficient sharing Internet via Bluetooth because they use what is called Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to achieve it. BLE is a standard that is explained in our article, Understanding Bluetooth Profiles.
- No passwords! You do not need to enter a password for Bluetooth tethering. Once your devices are paired, that’s it. As long as they both support Bluetooth tethering and it is enabled, you are good to go. Your connection is secure.
- Bluetooth tethering is slower than Wifi tethering. Wi-Fi lets you transfer data at much higher speeds than Bluetooth. Bluetooth 2.0 limits you to just 3 Mbps. If you have Bluetooth 3.0 though, that provides theoretical data transfer speeds of up to 24 Mbps, which is not bad really. Of course, whether you tether via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, your service provider’s capacity is also a factor in what speeds you get in reality. Most devices today use Bluetooth 4.0 and newer, so you do get good speeds.
- Limited number of connections. Another disadvantage of Bluetooth internet tethering is that it allows only one device to be connected at any time, unlike Wi-Fi where multiple devices can connect at the same time.
Is Bluetooth tethering the same as hotspot?
Mobile Hotspot tethering is the act of sharing your mobile phone’s Internet connection with another device e.g. laptop, tablet, smartphone, etc. But instead of using WiFi, Bluetooth tethering uses a Bluetooth connection for the sharing. So, yes; it is a hotspot, but a Bluetooth hotspot.
Is Bluetooth tethering free? Does Bluetooth tethering cost money?
Sharing your smartphone’s Internet via Bluetooth tethering attracts no additional charges beyond the cost of your data bundle.
Is Bluetooth tethering safe?
Yes; sharing your Internet via a Bluetooth hotspot is safe and secure. It requires that your mobile device be paired with the device you are sharing with. This provides a safe connection.
Is it better to use WiFi or Bluetooth for hotspot?
In principle, WiFi tethering allows for faster connection speeds. It also supports sharing to multiple devices. Bluetooth hotspot allows you to share to only one device at a time, but it has the advantage of using up less power.
How to set up Bluetooth tethering
- Pair both devices – the one you want to share from and the one you want to share to.
- On the device you are sharing to, open the Bluetooth menu, and tap the settings icon beside the name of your host device.
- In the menu that pops open, enable internet access.
- The host device will prompt you to approve this request. Do so.
- That is it. From now on, you will be able to use the data on the host device on the other device by connecting them via Bluetooth.
Now you know how Bluetooth tethering works, you never have to be stranded ever again. Put the information to use should the need ever arise. Here is how to share Internet over Bluetooth from phone to PC.
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Founder of MobilityArena. Yomi’s journey in mobile started in 2001. Besides obsessing over mobile phones, he also started creating WAP sites (early mobile-friendly websites created with WML). He began writing about phones in 2004 and has been at it since then. He has owned over 200 devices, from Symbian, Palm, PocketPC/Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, to Android, iOS, and KaiOS operating systems.