There are a lot of apps in Android which act differently depending on the internet connection. Such as apps which auto-upload photos to the could only when connected to Wi-Fi, and not when connected to broadband on a smart-phone.

Unfortunately, when such apps connect to a mobile hot-spot (limited data; tethering), they think it is regular (unlimited data) Wi-Fi, and work accordingly.

Is there any way for a tablet to notice when a Wi-Fi connection is from a mobile hot spot, and act as if it was connected to broadband?


If your tablet (or phone) devices are Android version 4.1 (or newer) then you can tell them that a particular wifi connection is a hotspot rather than broadband, which will let apps know that they should limit the traffic they use.

On the Android 4.1+ devices, if you go into Settings -> Data Usage and then press Menu (or press the "..." overflow button) you should see an option called "Mobile Hotspots".

Data Usage Menu

In here should be a list of all the wifi networks that the device has connected to recently, with a tickbox alongside that you can select to say that the network is actually a mobile hotspot. This tells your phone to treat that wifi network as if it is a mobile data (eg 3G) network instead of a broadband connection.

Mobile hotspots

  • Sorry for O.T... but ooooh... American Airlines do Wifi on board? :o Since when? :D – t0mm13b Aug 2 '13 at 14:38
  • Just to "unconfirm": I checked with 4.0.3, the option described is not there. So it really seems to have been introduced with 4.1. @t0mm13b that could also be the boarding area on some airport. Or the network for pilots who are tired sitting in the cockpit, wanting some comfortable first-class seat, and decided to remote-control the plane #D – Izzy Aug 2 '13 at 15:36
  • @Izzy LOL! "oops I banked too hard, pressed to hard on remote control - whoops, sorry, at least sick bags are present!!!!" :D – t0mm13b Aug 2 '13 at 15:38
  • 1
    @t0mm13b that'll be from an airport lounge (probably the Admiral's Club lounge at Heathrow as it looks like it was supplied by BT), I've got a lot of those sort of saved connections on my phone, done a lot of business travel in the last year... but I haven't been on a plane with wifi yet, unfortunately, so no liveblogging of pilot's mistakes from 40,000ft! – GAThrawn Aug 2 '13 at 16:43

In addition to the explicit option GAThrawn points out, Android 4.3 devices can automatically tell that a hotspot generated by another Android 4.3 device is a mobile hotspot, with the same effect as ticking that box yourself. Note that both the hotspot device and the receiving device must be running 4.3 (or later).

  • I connected my Nexus 7 tablet [Android 4.3] to my Galaxy S3 [i747; Cyanogen 10.1.2; Android 4.2.2] and the mobile hotspot was already selected. – lamcro Aug 7 '13 at 20:06

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.