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An iPhone hotspot is a straightforward way of providing your surrounding devices with an excellent internet connection, no matter where you are located at the time (well, for the most part). But what if you’re tying out the new hotspot feature and it’s agonizingly slow?
If your iPhone hotspot is slow, the carrier is generally your first culprit. However, you may have to tweak your settings and optimize your iPhone or it could be the background apps chewing up resources or your cell signal is bad.
Of course, there is always the possibility that the issue runs much deeper than that, and, in the worst-case scenario, you may have to reset your iPhone or contact your carrier. But, before you reach that point, let’s review potential fixes to get your hotspot working right.
Table of Contents
6 Potential Ways to Speed up A Slow iPhone Hotspot
1. Distance is Everything
When you turn on your iPhone’s personal hotspot, you’re essentially turning it into a router or a modem. When you use your home WiFi, you’re probably aware that the distance between the router and the device you’re using matters.
The farther away you’re standing, the slower and shadier the internet reception is. The same is true with your iPhone’s hotspot. In fact, though a hotspot is incredibly convenient, it often lacks the range of a good router, so your distances are even more limited.
Be sure to bring whatever connected devices you have nearer to the iPhone while the hotspot is up and running. The best part about this fix is it’s so simple to test.
If you’re standing right next to your iPhone and your service is still slow, you know to move on to the next fix.
2. Check Your Background Apps
This is one of the most overlooked fixes when it comes to hotspot troubles. The latest and greatest iPhones can do a lot of work and multitasking is often more seamless on an iPhone than it is on a standard, home PC.
However, that doesn’t mean it can do everything and, if it is doing everything, it may have so many background processes running that the hotspot service it provides is sluggish. Place your thumb at the bottom of the screen, in the center, and swipe up and to the right.
This will bring up a number of stacked windows that show how much you have open and running on your iPhone right now. You can sort through them from left to right and simply tap each one you don’t want open and swipe it up and off the screen. Simple as that.
Now, there’s a little-known feature on most smartphones today called (at least for Apple devices), Background App Refresh. What this means is that every app you have downloaded on your iPhone automatically refreshes itself over and over again.
- Go to your Settings (Gear Icon)
- Select General
- Select Background App Refresh
- Toggle off all apps you don’t want to refresh automatically in the background
- Or, turn off the entire process altogether
When you open the Background App Refresh Setting, you’ll see a notation that explains what Background App Refresh is and that it may reduce your battery’s longevity between charges. Anything that saps your battery is resource intensive and should be turned off while using your hotspot.
3. Maximise Compatibility
This is only something worth checking into if you have an iPhone 12 or newer and if any or one of the devices connected to your hotspot is older than an iPhone 12.
The Setting you need to look at is called the “Maximize Compatibility” setting and it’s located under your iPhone’s hotspot setting.
- Open up your Settings app again
- Scroll down to Personal Hotspot and select it
- At the bottom of the next screen, you’ll see “Maximize Compatibility”
- Be sure that the Maximize Compatibility toggle button is on (green)
That’s all there is to this little troubleshooting fix. Apple has a little notation below the Maximize Compatibility option that sounds bad. It says that “internet performance may be reduced for devices connected to your hotspot when turned on.”
That sounds bad. However, it’s a good thing for devices that are older and connected to your hotspot.
When your personal hotspot is on, you’re essentially providing connected devices with 5GHz WiFi. Older devices have trouble with it or can’t connect at all.
Switching the hotspot on allows older devices to connect at the 2.4GHz range, which is slower but far more stable and plenty fast for an older device. For instance, you can stream 1080p HD content easily while connected to a router with a 2.4GHz signal.
4. Get Rid of Automatic Updates
Automatic updates may seem fairly harmless. After all, it’s not as if Apple sends a daily firmware update for iPhones and iPads. What you may not realize is the iPhone is constantly reaching out for those updates.
As it does so, that’s a continually running background mechanism that you don’t need, knowing that there is an option to turn it off and that Apple doesn’t release firmware updates with extreme regularity.
- Back to the Settings app
- Scroll down and select General
- Select Software Update at the top of the screen
- Select Automatic Updates
- Untoggle both “Download iOS Updates” and “Install iOS Updates”
Once you turn it off, that’s one fewer process running along in the background, gobbling up resources unnecessarily. It may not make a huge difference in hotspot speed, but it will make a difference, especially if it’s combined with several other background processes being turned off.
5. Low Data Mode
Low Data Mode is a feature that’s buried in a feature so it’s likely you don’t even know that it’s there, much less turned on.
Low Data Mode basically chokes some of the automatic processes running in the background, such as automatic updates and various background tasks.
Now, since you’ve turned off automatic updates and Background App Refresh, there’s really no need for Low Data Mode to be on. Since an activated Low Data Mode can play games with your hotspot, you want to turn it off.
- Go to Settings
- Select Cellular
- Select Cellular Data Options
- Select Data Mode
- Choose the highest data option (Most often “Allow More Data on 5G)
Not only will this help when it comes to using the personal hotspot feature on your iPhone, but it will also help with your iPhone, period. Your iPhone will now have access to 5G, assuming it’s covered in your carrier plan.
6. Restart All Devices Connected to Your Hotspot
This includes your own iPhone. Once your iPhone is restarted, make sure that the personal hotspot is turned back on.
Now, everyone using your personal hotspot should turn off their devices, especially if you followed the above troubleshooting tips and turned off several background features.
Once their devices are powered back up, connect them to your personal hotspot, one at a time. You don’t want everyone jumping on your personal hotspot at the exact same time. Just let them do it one after the other.
You also have to be careful about having too many devices connected to your personal hotspot. This is especially true if those devices are pretty high-end and capable of gobbling up a lot of data in a hurry.
Or, if everyone is trying to run their own, 4k streaming program at the same time.
Restarting devices is always a good idea when you’re having problems. It’s the original troubleshooting fix for just about every piece of technology that’s been released since the late 70s. If you’re ever in doubt, restart.
All Things Considered
The personal hotspot feature is one of the best things any of the big tech companies have come out with, in terms of pure convenience. When you use it, you want to be sure you’re getting the best out of the feature.
If you are unsure of whether you can even use your personal hotspot, be sure to contact your carrier and see what your plan is.
If necessary, adding a personal hotspot to your plan is easy and instantaneous. With that being said, enjoy your new, faster, and more efficient hot spot!