Instant Hotspot vs Personal Hotspot on iOS: What’s the Difference?

All modern smartphones support the connection of cellular data to other devices. And depending on the brand and operating system of your smartphone, you can find the internet tethering function, which is marked by names like Wi-Fi hotspot, internet hotspot, portable hotspot, etc. On iOS, Personal Hotspot is the fixed name for the Internet tethering function of iPhones and iPads. However, there is also something called Instant hotspot .

These two terms can be very confusing at times. Are they referring to the same internet sharing function? Or their functionalities are completely different. And what makes one moment and the other personal? In this article, we are going to explain everything you need to know about iOS Instant Hotspot and Personal Hotspot.


As mentioned earlier, Personal Hotspot is the function that supports internet tethering function of your iPhone and iPad. When the personal hotspot is activated, you can share the cellular data of your iPhone or iPad with any Wi-Fi enabled device: computers (Windows, Linux, Mac), smartphones (Android, iOS), etc.

Instant Hotspot is a special (read: better and faster) medium that only Apple devices (Mac, iPhone, iPad and iPod touch) use to connect to the personal hotspot of an iPhone or iPad.

Think of it as a VIP tethering channel where Apple devices that meet certain requirements can use the iPhone’s internet connection without entering a password.

Instant Hotspot is one of the many features of Apple’s continuity framework —A system that promotes the seamless exchange and synchronization of data between Apple devices.

To explain the differences between Instant and Personal Hotspot, let’s highlight how both work.

This is how the personal hotspot works

One of the key differentiators between Personal Hotspot and Instant Hotspot is that the latter does not require authentication while the former does. The personal hotspot works more like connecting a wireless device to your regular WiFi router. Do you know how to turn on your router before devices can connect? Personal Hotspot is based on a similar concept.

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Before a device (not from Apple) can use the cellular data of your iPhone, the personal hotspot must be activated manually. Second, the connecting devices will definitely be asked to enter the hotspot’s password.

To set up a personal hotspot on your iPhone or iPad, go to Settings> Personal Hotspot and turn on “Allow others to join”.

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Then tap WiFi Password to set up a password.

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To join this shared Wi-Fi network on a non-Apple device, you need to open the device’s Wi-Fi menu, find the hotspot, and enter the network’s password to connect.

For Apple devices, Instant Hotspot eliminates the authentication process and streamlines the steps required to join other Apple devices’ personal hotspot.

This is how Instant Hotspot works

Instant Hotspot enables you to remotely activate an Apple device’s personal hotspot. Say you have a MacBook and an iPhone, because example, and they both use the same Apple ID. The MacBook can activate your iPhone’s personal hotspot. The best part is that you don’t even have to touch your phone. You could charge your iPhone anywhere in your room and activate its personal hotspot with the click of a mouse from your Mac without leaving the couch.

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That basically defines instant hotspot. It is a personal hotspot that you can join “immediately” without a password – even though the network is secured.

If there are two Apple devices with the same Apple ID account nearby, you will be notified that the personal hotspot of one of your devices is available. To use the device’s cellular data, all you need to do is click Join.

Instant hotspot vs. personal hotspot ios

Alternatively, you can go to the Wi-Fi status menu and click on your device’s name (under the Personal Hotspots section) to remotely enable its hotspot.

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Instant Hotspot vs. Personal Hotspot: Requirements

You can manually activate the personal hotspot on almost all iPhone models, regardless of their iOS versions. However, to remotely activate Personal Hotspot from other Apple devices using Instant Hotspot technology, your iPhone must be running iOS 8.1 or later. In addition, the connected Apple devices must be running at least iOS 8 (for iPhone) or OS X Yosemite (for Mac).

Software requirements aside, the Apple devices must be nearby and the following conditions must also be met for Instant Hotspot to work:

  1. Each device must be signed in with the same Apple ID.
  2. Bluetooth must be activated on each device.
  3. WLAN must be activated on each device.

Requirement # 2 is not mandatory for MacBooks. You can join a personal hotspot even if Bluetooth is disabled on the host device.

Find the spot

And there you have it; Instant hotspot and personal hotspot demystified. The terms do not describe two types of hotspots. No. Personal hotspot is the feature that allows you to connect your device’s cellular data to other devices. Instant Hotspot describes how your Apple ID devices activate and join your iPhone (or iPad) personal hotspot remotely without authentication. Leave a comment below for any further clarification.

Next Up:

Does your iPhone’s personal hotspot switch itself on? Read the guide linked below to learn what to do to prevent this from happening.

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