Find that your iPhone hotspot is not working? You’re not alone. Sadly, networking issues are a common problem in the world of smartphone tethering.
If your iPhone has failed to enable your personal hotspot, your iPhone hotspot is not discoverable, or you’re encountering any other hotspot problems, keep reading. We’re going to look at how to fix iPhone tethering.
1. Make Sure Tethering Is Enabled
It sounds obvious, but are you sure that you’ve turned on tethering in your iPhone’s settings? Even if it was previously enabled, you might have deactivated it by accident via the Control Center, or perhaps an iOS update turned it off without your knowledge. If it’s not turned on, your iPhone hotspot won’t be discoverable.
To check whether your personal hotspot is enabled, head to Settings > Cellular > Personal Hotspot and ensure the toggle is in the On position. You should see a message underneath that says Now Discoverable, along with the name of your hotspot network. If it wasn’t turned on, make sure you know how to use the hotspot feature in the first place, too.
(Note: The hotspot’s name exactly mirrors the name of your device. To change the name, you need to head to Settings > General > About > Name.)
While you’re in the hotspot settings, it’s also worth making sure that your hotspot password is correct. You can change the hotspot password by tapping on Wi-Fi Password.
2. If Tethering Settings Are Unavailable
For reasons that aren’t always entirely clear, some carriers disable tethering on their devices. The problem is most prevalent on locked devices that you’ve bought directly via a carrier’s shop, but it can happen on unlocked phones and tablets too.
This issue manifests itself in a number of ways. You might find that the tethering option is entirely grayed out in the Settings menu, or you might see an onscreen message that reads To enable personal hotspot on this account, contact [carrier]. Often, there will also be a spinning wheel alongside it.
Sometimes, a quick search on your carrier’s FAQs will solve the problem. The solution might be as simple as sending an SMS to your carrier to enable the setting.
Missing APN data can also be the culprit. If you know the codes, you can add them by going to Settings > Cellular > Cellular Data Options > Cellular Network > APN Settings.
However, on some occasions, the carrier might have permanently disabled the option on your account. For more information, you will need to contact your carrier’s support team and raise the issue with them.
3. Power Cycle Your Device
It’s always worth following the age-old advice of turning your device off and on again if your iPhone hotspot isn’t working. For a quicker solution, you can try turning on airplane mode instead. Enable it, wait 10 seconds, then disable it again.
You should also try to power cycle the device you’re trying to connect to your iPhone hotspot. Remember, the issue might be with the other device, rather than with your iPhone.
4. Try a Different Connection Method
Most people assume that in order to use to a personal hotspot, you need to use a Wi-Fi connection. That’s not true. You can also use Bluetooth or even a trusty USB cable to make the connection.
By trying alternative hotspot connection methods, you can rule out (or establish!) a problem with your phone’s Wi-Fi hardware. To use a different connection method, you’ll still need to enable your personal hotspot at Settings > Cellular > Personal Hotspot.
If you’re attempting to use Bluetooth, you need to pair your iPhone with the computer or mobile device you’re trying to share the hotspot with. On an iPhone, that means you need to go to Settings > Bluetooth and tap on the name of the device in question.
The process on your other device will be specific to the operating system. Refer to the manual, or see our guide on connecting your mobile device to a PC with Bluetooth for more guidance. If this is the first time that you’ve connected the other device, you may need to go through a PIN verification process.
Using a USB cable to connect to a hotspot is as simple as connecting your phone to a computer and selecting the hotspot from the list of available networks. USB also benefits from being the fastest type of connection. If speed is important to you, this is the best solution.
5. Reset Network Settings
iOS offers a built-in way to erase user data and restore settings to the factory defaults. However, you can also take a more granular approach by only removing certain kinds of data.
In the case of your iPhone’s personal hotspot not working, you only need to delete the network settings. To do so, head to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings. You will need to enter your passcode before the phone lets you proceed.
The reset process will remove all your Wi-Fi and carrier settings and delete your custom iPhone name. This will give you a blank slate to make sure there wasn’t an erroneous network setting causing the hotspot problem.
6. Sign Out of iCloud
Some people have also claimed that logging out of your iCloud account can resolve a personal hotspot that doesn’t work. It’s not clear why doing do so would fix a network issue, but it’s worth a shot if nothing else solved it.
To sign out of your iCloud account, go to Settings > [Username] > Sign Out. Make sure you log back into your account to re-enable the services.
7. Reset Your iPhone
The last-ditch solution is to wipe the operating system—along with all your user data—and reset the entire iPhone.
You can go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings to begin the process. Alternatively, you can also achieve the same outcome by using iTunes. Open the app on your computer and navigate to [iPhone name] > Summary > Restore iPhone. Make sure you’ve backed up your iPhone before doing this so you don’t lose anything.
Visit an Apple Service Center Next
If all else fails, you can head to an Apple Store (or Authorized Service Provider) and get the team to take a look. There’s a chance you’re facing a hardware issue. If you are, no amount of fiddling with settings or types of connection will solve your inability to connect to an iPhone hotspot.
To reduce your reliance on the mobile hotspot feature, take a look at how to find free Wi-Fi access almost anywhere. And for more help with iPhone troubleshooting, learn about the problems you can solve using the DFU mode.