How to use your smartphone as a Wi-Fi repeater

How to use your smartphone as a Wi-Fi repeater

Creating a Wi-Fi hotspot has become a popular way of sharing your mobile data connection with others. But what if you wanted to share your Wi-Fi connection (the one to which your phone is already connected) with other devices and effectively extend your Wi-Fi coverage? In this article, we take a look at the various ways in which you can use your smartphone as a Wi-Fi repeater/Wi-Fi extender.

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Why use your smartphone as a Wi-Fi extender?

While we understand that there are more robust ways to extend the range of your WiFi network, (a Mesh Wi-Fi - like Google Nest, for example), it is not pragmatic to invest in a Mesh network in case you will only need to occasionally use it. For one-off use cases, it is cheaper to simply convert your smartphone into a Wi-Fi repeater. 

The primary function of a Wi-Fi repeater is to extend the coverage of a Wi-Fi network to areas with weaker reception. For example, if you’re having a party on your terrace and your router’s Wi-Fi signal does not quite reach you, you can place your smartphone closer to the terrace - but not far enough from the router. Once the smartphone acts as a repeater, it can let you access the internet via the same router even though it is not technically in range.

Depending on the smartphone model you own, there are several ways of turn it into a WiFi extender. Let’s take a look at some of those methods.

Method 1: Extend your WiFi using the Wi-Fi hotspot on your phone

The easiest way to turn your smartphone into a Wi-Fi extender is to use the Wi-Fi hotspot feature. The problem with this option, however, is that not all smartphones let you turn on Wi-Fi and Hotspot at the same time. For such devices, there are other workarounds described here and here.
 
On smartphones that do support this feature, when you turn on the hotspot while it is connected to your Wi-Fi network, it effectively acts as a Wi-Fi repeater and the hotspot shares your Wi-Fi connection (and not the mobile data).

I have managed to get this working on three smartphones I have with me: Google Pixel 3, Xiaomi Mi 10i, and the Poco M3 (check screenshots).

WiFi hotspot together
Many smartphones now allow you to keep a Wi-Fi hotspot on while connected to another Wi-Fi network / © NextPit

Here’s how you too can do this.

  1. Make sure your phone is connected to your WiFi network (ideally on 2.4Ghz as it has a much longer range than 5Ghz networks) and verify that the internet connection works.
  2. Open Settings -> Network and internet > Hotspot & tethering, tap on Wi-Fi hotspot.
  3. Tap on ‘Hotspot password’ to see the default password. You can also choose to change the password to something you can easily remember.
  4. Tap OK.
  5. You can now turn the Wi-Fi hotspot on by toggling the switch.
  6. For quickly turning on/off the Wi-Fi hotspot, you can access the Hotspot option from the drop-down menu.
  7. Take the phone/ device you want to connect to this newly created Hotspot.
  8. Make sure the Wi-Fi is on and let it scan for networks.
  9. When you see your Hotspot in the list, tap connect and enter the password, and voila, you’re connected!
  10. You will now be able to connect to your Wi-Fi connection indirectly via this newly connected hotspot.
Enable WiFi Hotspot
Some phones let you share your Wi-Fi connection (not mobile data) using the Wi-Fi hotspot feature/ © NextPit

In case your smartphone does not support simultaneous Wi-Fi and hotspot connections, it’s time to move to other options. The first of these methods warrants that you enable Developer options on your phone. Please read our detailed guide on how to enable developer options on Android before you proceed further.

Method 2: Toggle the “Enable Wi-Fi Coverage Extend Feature” from developer options

Once you have enabled developer options, open the Developer options menu and look for an option that says “Enable Wi-Fi Coverage Extend Feature". Note that not all smartphones will have this option. If you do not find this menu on your phone, it’s time to move to method 3.

If your phone does have this option, once you enable this, your phone will be able to stay connected to a Wi-Fi network and act as a hotspot simultaneously. You can then follow the steps mentioned above (in method 1) to turn your smartphone into a Wi-Fi extender.

Method 3: Use a Wi-Fi extender app

If you have exhausted the first two options, it’s time to move to the third option which will require you to download a Wi-Fi repeater app from the Google Play Store. On my Samsung Galaxy M02s, I downloaded an app called, well, Wi-Fi Repeater and I was able to turn it into a Wi-Fi repeater in minutes. Here’s how.

Note: The only con with this option is that you will need to manually configure every single device to connect to this network (over and above entering the Wi-Fi password)

  1. Make sure the phone you want to act as a Wi-Fi extender is connected to a Wi-Fi network.
  2. Download and install the Wi-Fi Repeater app from the Google Play Store on the phone.
  3. Open the app and tap on the large Wi-Fi icon to start the Wi-Fi Hotspot.
  4. Take note of the IP address and HTTP Port numbers shown on the screen.
  5. Take the phone you want to connect and connect it to the Wi-Fi hotspot (use the password shown on the screen).
  6. Once connected you may see a message saying that the network does not have internet connectivity.
  7. To fix this, tap the Settings icon next to the Wi-Fi network to open Network details.
  8. Tap the Edit icon on the top right corner. Leave the password column as is and tap on Advanced options.
  9. Tap on Proxy and then select Manual. 
  10. In the section named Proxy hostname, enter the IP address shown on the screen of the phone acting as a Wi-Fi repeater. Enter the HTTP port number in the Proxy port section and tap Save.
  11. That’s it! You have successfully transformed your phone into a Wi-Fi repeater!
Wi Fi repeater proxy
Using the Wi-Fi repeater app isn't as daunting as it looks. / © NextPit

Note: Even after you enter the IP address and proxy, some phones may still report that the Internet isn’t working. But try opening websites using a browser and check if that really is the case.

A similar process can be done to connect devices like your computer or tablet to this repeater phone.

Method 4: Use Bluetooth tethering

The last option in your book to extend your Wi-Fi is by using an option called Bluetooth tethering. We generally do not recommend this option as the connectivity speeds offered in this method are low compared to the methods outlined above. However, this can be used as a last resort in case none of the methods mentioned above work for you. 

To learn how to extend and share your Wi-Fi connection using Bluetooth tethering, please take a look at our article that talks in detail about this topic.

Well, that is it! We have just shared with you four different methods using which you can turn your smartphone into a Wi-Fi repeater. Do let us know if these steps worked for you or if you know of any other methods to convert your Android smartphone into a Wi-Fi repeater.

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