Fix Personal Hotspot (Wi-Fi Tethering) not working on iPhone and iPad

Personal Hotspot or Wi-Fi Tethering is a feature found in iPhones and iPads with cellular connectivity that allows you to share the cellular 4G or 5G data with other devices over Wi-Fi. Even though it’s just a toggle in the Settings app, sometimes the feature does not work reliably.

In this article, we’ll explore several workarounds to troubleshoot Personal Hotspot not working on the iPhone and iPad.

Troubleshoot Wi-Fi Tethering problems on iPhone and iPad

Fix Personal Hotspot (Wi-Fi Tethering) not working on iPhone and iPad

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Various problems may arise when trying to use Personal Hotspot on your iPhone or iPad. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Unable to turn on the hotspot
  • Personal Hotspot option not available
  • Unable to join the hotspot
  • Clients getting frequently disconnected, etc.

Here, we’ll go through a few troubleshooting steps that may help resolve some of the popular or common Personal Hotspot (Wi-Fi tethering) issues. It’s recommended that you follow through with these steps sequentially and try to connect to the Personal Hotspot after every solution/workaround until the problem is hopefully resolved.

Note: The below steps only apply to iPhone or iPad devices as Personal Hotspot host or client devices. If your device runs Android, you can refer to our dedicated troubleshooting article for the same.

Determine whether the hotspot “host” or a “client” device has a problem

This is quite easy to figure out whether the hotspot sharing device (host) or any of the clients is having an issue with Personal Hotspot.

If you’re unable to create a personal hotspot on an iPhone or iPad, or even though it’s created successfully, multiple clients are facing issues while trying to join it, most likely the issue resides with the host iPhone or iPad.

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On the other hand, if the hotspot is successfully shared and most clients can join it, the issue is likely with the particular client that is unable to join reliably.

Once you’ve identified the source of the problem, which is either the hotspot creator (host) or the particular client, follow the troubleshooting steps applicable to your situation. For example, if you’re having an issue with the host iPhone or iPad, you may perform only those steps applicable to the host and not the clients.

Fix Personal Hotspot issues on the host

If the device that is sharing the Personal Hotspot has a problem with hotspot creation, you may try the following workarounds to fix it.

Ensure cellular data connectivity is available

Make sure that the hotspot device has Internet connectivity over cellular data. To verify this, do the following:

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap on Wi-Fi.
  3. Turn off Wi-Fi.
  4. Go back to the Settings app main screen.
  5. Go to Cellular/Mobile Data.
  6. Turn on Cellular/Mobile Data.
  7. Open Safari and navigate to a web page (e.g., Google). Alternatively, you can also open an Internet speed test tool like Ookla or Fast.com.

If the web page loads successfully, or a speed test shows a decent upload/download speed, it means the cellular data connection on the hotspot device is working fine.

If the Internet connection is unreliable, wait for some time for the connection to be stabilized. Alternatively, check with your network provider and ensure you have a valid Internet plan on the SIM card associated with the host iPhone or iPad.

Additionally, you might also want to ensure the following settings are configured properly:

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Ensure Data Roaming is enabled

If you’re on a roaming network, you might not be able to use cellular data if Data Roaming is turned off. To turn on data roaming, go to the Settings app, navigate to Mobile/Cellular Data >> Mobile/Cellular Data Options, and ensure Data Roaming is turned on.

Check your Cellular Plan (Data Plan) Limit

If you’re on a limited data plan, you can check if you’ve exceeded your periodic quota. To check your current data plan, open Settings, go to Cellular/Mobile Data, and tap on your current Cellular Plan or Data Plan, if there is one. Verify the daily/monthly quota or the data balance you have.

If you’ve used up your Cellular Data quota and need more data, contact your cellular carrier to upgrade your current data plan.

If there’s no data plan available, log in to your provider’s official app and check your data plan. Alternatively, you can use your provider’s USSD code for checking data balance or contact your provider directly.

Ensure Personal Hotspot is enabled on the host iPhone or iPad

To verify that the hotspot is turned on properly on the hotspot device, do the following:

  1. Open Control Center by swiping down from top-right or swiping up from the bottom on your Home Screen.
  2. Tap and hold the connectivity section of the Control Center to reveal additional options.
  3. Tap the Personal Hotspot icon and ensure it’s set to “Discoverable”.

Note: Some cellular data plans from AT&T, Sprint, and other providers, may not support Personal Hotspot. If the Personal Hotspot option is disabled or unavailable in the Settings app, ensure that Cellular Data is turned on. If you’re still unable to see the Personal Hotspot option, make sure your current data plan includes mobile hotspot use, from your carrier.

After this, try to connect to the hotspot from one of the client devices to see whether the hotspot works fine. If not, proceed with further troubleshooting below.

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Turn off & Turn on Personal Hotspot

If the client devices are still unable to discover or connect to the hotspot, try to disable and re-enable Personal Hotspot.

  1. Open Control Center by swiping down from top-right or swiping up from the bottom on your Home Screen.
  2. Tap and hold the connectivity section of the Control Center to reveal additional options.
  3. Tap on the Personal Hotspot icon multiple times to toggle between “Off”, “Not Discoverable” and “Discoverable” status.
  4. Finally, tap the Personal Hotspot toggle and set it to “Discoverable”.

Ensure “Allow Others to Join” is enabled

If you want to share your hotspot with a device that isn’t registered with your Apple ID, you must additionally enable another setting.

  1. Go to the Settings app on the host iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap on Personal Hotspot.
  3. Turn on Allow Others to Join.

On the client devices, try to connect to the Wi-Fi hotspot using the credentials configured on the host device.

Ensure Wi-FI on the hotspot sharing device is turned off

Normally, when you turn on Personal Hotspot, it should automatically disconnect any existing Wi-Fi connection on the device. If your hotspot issue still persists, do the following to turn off Wi-Fi.

  1. Open the Settings app on the host iPhone or iPad. by swiping down from top-right or swiping up from the bottom on your Home Screen.
  2. Tap on Wi-Fi.
  3. Turn off the Wi-Fi toggle.

Stay on the Personal Hotspot screen until the client(s) connect

After the hotspot has been turned on on the iPhone or iPad, stay on the same screen and prevent the device from sleeping, until at least one client has tried to connect to the hotspot.

Change SSID & Password of the Personal Hotspot

Sometimes, you can get other devices to connect to a personal hotspot by changing the Wi-Fi SSID and password required for connecting to it.

Start by changing the SSID name for the hotspot. To do this on your iPhone or iPad, open the Settings app, go to General >> About >> Name, and change the device name to something simple and small.

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From one of the client devices, try to connect to the hotspot Wi-Fi network with the new SSID. If it still doesn’t connect, proceed further.

Next, remove the hotspot password completely. To do this, open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad, go to Personal Hotspot >> Wi-Fi Password, and delete the password

Then, use a simple password without any special characters and having a length of 8 characters. Finally, tap Done from the top-right corner to save the changes.

After changing the SSID and password, if you’re still unable to connect, continue for more troubleshooting steps below.

Ensure Maximize Compatibility on the hotspot device (iPhone 12 or later) is turned on

If your hotspot device is iPhone 12 or later, there is an additional setting that you might want to give a try if only a few of the devices won’t connect to the hotspot. By turning on Maximize Compatibility mode, the hotspot reverts to a slower but more compatible 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi network as opposed to the default 5 GHz network. Thus, older devices that do not support the 5 GHz bandwidth, will not be able to connect to the hotspot network.

To ensure Maximize Compatibility setting on iPhone, iPad is turned on:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap on Personal Hotspot.
  3. Turn on Maximize Compatibility, if not already turned on.

Ensure the iPhone or iPad has the latest software

Installing the latest software updates on your iPhone or iPad can help solve many software-level issues, including those involving Personal Hotspot. Follow the steps below to ensure your iPhone or iPad has the latest software updates installed.

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  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap on General, then tap on Software Update.
  3. If a software update is available, tap on Download and Install, and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the system update.

Ensure Carrier Settings are updated

Similar to updating software updates, you may also want to ensure your mobile carrier settings are updated. Usually, if your carrier releases updated settings, you’ll be notified via the Settings app. If you’ve dismissed the update notification and want to install the updated settings manually, follow the steps below:

  1. Make sure your device is connected to Wi-Fi or a cellular network.
  2. Tap Settings >> General >> About.
  3. If there is a carrier update available, follow the on-screen instructions to install your carrier update.

The carrier settings should be installed now.

Ensure Low Data Mode & Low Power Mode are turned off

Usually, Low Data Mode and Low Power Mode should not inherently interfere with hotspot connectivity with clients. But, after connecting to the hotspot, if the clients are experiencing poor Internet performance, turning off these two options might be helpful.

Low Data Mode is designed to limit the use of cellular data on iPhone and iPad. It restricts automatic updates and background tasks. And, it might also cause the Personal Hotspot feature to work unreliably. To disable Low Data Mode:

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Go to Cellular/Mobile Data >> Cellular/Mobile Data Options.
  3. Turn off Low Data Mode, if already turned on.

Low Power Mode on the other hand limits some of the software features that consume more power from your iPhone or iPad battery. To turn off Low Power Mode, do the following:

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Scroll down and tap on Battery.
  3. Turn off Low Power Mode, if already enabled.

Restart the iPhone or iPad

Sometimes, a simple device restart is all it takes to fix Wi-Fi and hotspot issues. Follow the steps below to restart your iPhone or iPad.

  • To know about restarting a particular iPhone model, check Apple’s KB article: Restart your iPhone.
  • To know about restarting a particular iPad model, check Apple’s KB article: Restart your iPad.

After trying these workarounds on the Personal Hotspot host device, you should be able to get the hotspot working, allowing other devices to connect to it without any issue.

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Fix Personal Hotspot issues on client device

The following steps are applicable to iPhone and iPad specifically, but if you’re connecting a Mac or PC, you can still follow this troubleshoot guide and perform similar steps.

Turn off & Turn on Wi-Fi

On the client devices, try to turn off and turn on Wi-Fi again, and then try to connect to the hotspot. To turn Wi-Fi on a client iPhone or iPad off & on, do the following:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap on Wi-Fi.
  3. Turn off Wi-Fi if it is turned on, and then turn it on again.

Now, try connecting to the hotspot once again.

Ensure you’re connecting to the right SSID

Sometimes, the client device may not be selecting the SSID that corresponds to the intended hotspot’s SSID. And so, the SSID you’re trying to connect to may have a different set of credentials. Do verify that you’re connecting to the right SSID.

For this, check the hotspot provider for the correct Wi-Fi SSID. If there are two or more networks available with the same or similar SSIDs, ask the hotspot provider to change the SSID name for the hotspot (for specific steps, find the relevant section in the current article).

Ensure you’re entering the correct password

Along with the WI-Fi SSID name, also ensure that the Wi-Fi password matches with the corresponding password set on the hotspot device. If the password is long or complex and you’re unable to connect, request the hotspot provider to use a simpler password.

Refer to the steps provided earlier in the article to know about changing the password for the Portable Hotspot on iPhone or iPad.

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If you’ve tried all these steps and are still unable to set up or connect to Mobile Hotspot on your Android device, you can perform a few relatively advanced solutions that might work for you.

Try connecting to the Internet via USB or Bluetooth

If you’re trying to use your Personal Hotspot with a single Mac or PC, you have an option for sharing the Internet connection of the iPhone or iPad via USB (USB Tethering) or Bluetooth (Bluetooth Tethering).

Apple has a detailed KB article on the steps required to enable Personal Hotspot over USB or Bluetooth.

Reset the Network Settings on iPhone, iPad

Resetting the network settings on the hotspot host or client devices may sometimes resolve the issues you’re facing with Personal Hotspot. Follow the below steps to perform a Network Reset on iPhone or iPad.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Go to General.
  3. Scroll down and tap Transfer or Reset iPhone/iPad.
  4. Tap on Reset >> Reset Network Settings and follow the on-screen instructions.

Factory Reset your iPhone or iPad

Hopefully, by now, your Personal Hotspot issue should be resolved. But, if you’re still facing the issue, you can probably Restore your iPhone or iPad to factory settings, and find out if that resolves the issue.

Take it to Apple

As a last option, if all else fails, you can take your device to Apple Support and let them diagnose the issue. If your device is covered under warranty, you can get it repaired at no cost.

Let us know which solution helped you resolve your device’s Personal Hotspot issue. For more tech tips & tricks like these, stay tuned to 7labs.

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