How the iPhone Personal Hotspot Saved My CES

In early January, I attended CES 2023 for the first time in two years (and 18th overall). After checking into my hotel and setting up my computer so it would be ready to go after the events of my first evening, I realized there was a problem connecting to the Wi-Fi in the hotel room. The connection either wouldn’t work at all or was slow as molasses. Figuring that it was just “high time” for guests to connect online, and that I would likely have better luck later that evening, I gave it a go. big mistake. During the entire 7-day trip, the internet never worked reliably enough to do anything from my room.


I panicked. As someone who does a lot of the work writing and posting content and uploading a lot of photos and videos from the show, not being able to connect has set me back more than I could have. And my schedule was too jam-packed (and my sleep was seriously deprived) to bother requesting a room switch (and potentially facing the same issue in another room anyway. Used to be). For a reporter at the biggest trade show of the year, it was like being thrust into the plot of a horror movie.

So, what did I do to avoid the dreadful experience? End of my horror story, and the hero who saved me from being choked to death by unusable Wi-Fi, was my iPhone and Personal Hotspot via wireless carrier plan. Let me explain


What is iPhone Personal Hotspot?

Close-up of the iPhone Personal Hotspot option on a MacBook.

Personal Hotspot is a feature that comes standard on every iPhone, including the best iPhones and many of the best Android phones out there like the Pixel 7 Pro. This allows you to wirelessly connect the phone to another iPhone, iPad, Android device, or, like in my case, a MacBook Pro M1 computer (or computers from other brands). Once connected, you can take advantage of the phone’s cellular network and go online. You can surf web pages, stream videos, check e-mail, and more while connected to the Personal Hotspot. But while doing so, you are using the cellular data of that device, not Wi-Fi. It’s also easy to share Personal Hotspot from iPhone to Android devices, it should be noted, and vice versa.

Personal Hotspot to the rescue

Using Personal Hotspot on an iPhone is simple: see How to use Personal Hotspot on my iPhone article for detailed directions. It’s equally simple from Android devices. But before heading to the Streaming Fest, I had a few things to take care of.

The first is that Personal Hotspot uses cellular data, which can add up quickly, especially with intensive tasks like uploading videos. My plan includes 25GB of data, but it’s technically unlimited. This means that once I exceed 25GB, speeds slow down to compensate until my next billing cycle, at which time the 25GB at 5G speeds resumes once again. It’s still more than enough to stream video (an hour-long movie in HD would use about three gigs), let my son use the hotspot for his iPad on road trips, and occasionally power up my computer. Connect to work for a few hours if I’m in a jam. The jam at CES was huge enough to warrant the decision.

A week after my return, based on updated stats in my carrier app, I used about 9GB of cellular data during the show. It wasn’t all from the hotspot, but it did include all the work I did from my hotel room (thankfully, the press room Wi-Fi worked at both convention centers.) I still had 16.5GB of data left for final use Was. Day 11 of my billing cycle. Having a good plan ensures that you don’t have to worry if you ever end up in a scenario like mine. However, if you have a smaller data plan, it’s important to consider that and use Personal Hotspot sparingly, for light tasks or emergencies only.

Second is battery life. Use your phone as a personal hotspot Can drain your phone’s battery faster than other apps, that’s why power is the key. Had no problem working in my room as I left the phone plugged in. On the go, I used a portable battery pack to boost the phone as needed.

Third, if Personal Hotspot isn’t working – and let’s face it, sometimes Personal Hotspot can be finicky – you can connect the phone to a computer via USB and then connect to its cellular wireless data. Can I suggest always keeping a spare cable (and USB-A-to-USB-C adapter if needed) in your bag in case you ever need it. Thankfully, I didn’t have to resort to a wired connection. But as long as you have cable, it’s just as simple to do. Bluetooth is another option that drains the battery much more slowly but can also make connections slower. For my tasks, which involved uploading videos, large photos, and posting to sites, I couldn’t afford anything but blazing-fast speeds.

In my desperation attempt to meet the deadline, I connected my MacBook Pro M1 wirelessly to the iPhone 14 via Personal Hotspot and got to work. The connection was flawless. I uploaded video files at half-a-half-gig in minutes, photos in seconds, and was able to get my work done without a hitch.

Personal Hotspot is an under-rated iPhone feature

MacBook with iPhone, backpack and camera.

In the past few years, technology has surpassed anything I could have ever imagined. Yet having consistently reliable Wi-Fi anywhere and everywhere remains an issue. In a day and age where we talk of Wi-Fi speeds, mesh networks, powerful routers, 5G, WiFi6, and network extenders, the truth of the matter is that sometimes network just don’t work,

In my case, at CES, it just didn’t work at the worst possible time. Without the iPhone Personal Hotspot, I would have spent more time using the better Wi-Fi signal on the main level than I did sipping red wine in the lobby bar, or fueling up with too much java in the hotel coffee shop. I should be. The same will be the case for Android users, who may find the hotspot feature on their devices keeps them tied down even for a day.

The Personal Hotspot feature is one of the more underrated features for smartphones from both Apple and Android. It can come if you are in a jam. With these tips and using them sparingly, you may find that Personal Hotspot may even be your saving grace one day.

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