What is USB Tethering?

Here’s exactly what you are desperate for: All the information for USB tethering, what it is, How it works, and whether Is it different for Android and iOS devices.

This is the blog post that has everything you need to know about USB Tethering.

Ever found yourself in a Wi-Fi wasteland? Craving that sweet internet fix but surrounded by dead zones? Worry not, adventurous wanderer, for there’s a hidden tech trick in your pocket called USB tethering. It’s like transforming your smartphone into a mini Wi-Fi router, but with a trusty cable instead of invisible waves.

usb tethering cropped turned off image

Quick Summary

  • Share your smartphone’s internet through a USB cable to another device like a laptop or tablet.
  • Faster and more reliable than Wi-Fi tethering, especially in weak signal areas.
  • Lower battery drain on both devices compared to Wi-Fi.
  • No password or network setup is n
  • needed on the receiving device.
  • Encrypted connection for improved security.
other wireless connections with usb tethering turned onn in hands on android

How USB Tethering Works

Imagine your phone as a miniature internet gateway. It receives data like a chatty bird catching gossip on a wire. Then, your USB cable transforms into a secret tunnel, whisking that internet juice straight to your laptop or tablet, ready to fuel your online adventures. No need for passwords or network names – it’s like a direct handshake between devices.

image of usb tethering on smartphones

First, your phone acts as a gateway – it grabs internet data from the airwaves using cellular signals either its on Data roaming, kind of like how a bird gathers bits of information while flitting around.

Then, you plug your phone into another device with a USB cable. This creates a secret tunnel for the internet signal to travel from your phone to the other device.

The internet pours straight from your phone into your laptop or tablet this way. No need to search for network names or enter passwords. It’s like your devices are shaking hands through the cable to share the internet!

Comparing USB Tethering With WiFi and Bluetooth Tethering

FeatureUSB TetheringWi-Fi TetheringBluetooth Tethering
Speed10-100+ Mbps (matches phone data plan)10-20 Mbps (impacted by interference)2-3 Mbps
Range1-3 meters (limited by cable)Up to 10-15 metersUp to 30 meters (affected by walls/interference)
Best Use CasesHigh-speed tasks (streaming, downloads, gaming); stable connectionsSharing with multiple devices; moderate tasks (browsing, video calls, gaming)Occasional access; light tasks (email, messaging, browsing)
PopularityGaining adoption for speed and reliabilityClassic option; remains widely usedLeast used but offers wireless freedom
SecurityMost secure (encrypted wired connection)Less secure than wiredLeast secure
Battery DrainHigh on both connected devicesHigh on both devicesLower on phone; higher on connected device
SetupPlug-and-playRequires Wi-Fi network setup/passwordRequires pairing devices

Factual Comparison of USB Tethering on Android and iOS

Supported DevicesWindows laptops, Macs, Chromebook, Linux computers, Android tablets, other Android phones (varies on Android version and device manufacturer)Macbooks, iPads
Initial SetupPlug-and-play on most devices. May require manual configuration for older Windows versions (pre-Windows 7)Plug-and-play. Automatic connection with Apple devices.
Driver InstallationMay require specific driver installation for older Windows versions (pre-Windows 7)No driver installation required. Works natively.
Connection ProtocolsSupports various protocols like RNDIS, CDC Ethernet, and NCM (varies on Android version and device manufacturer)Primarily uses RNDIS protocol
Network ConfigurationMore control over network name, password, security settings (varies on Android version and device manufacturer)Limited configuration options. Uses default network name and password.
Connection StabilityGenerally stable when connected directly to the phoneMay experience occasional drops or reduced stability due to Wi-Fi interference (not applicable to direct cable connection)
Data ChargesApplies to both platforms, based on your cellular data planApplies to both platforms, based on your cellular data plan
Battery DrainHigher than Wi-Fi tethering, drains both phone and receiving device batteryHigher than Wi-Fi tethering, drains both phone and receiving device battery

Benefits of USB Tethering

  • Speed – USB tethering can reach internet speeds of over 100Mbps under optimal 4G LTE connections, compared to average Wi-Fi speeds of 50-60 Mbps. This makes tethering better for data-intensive tasks. Be sure that the speed of USB tethering depends on the device itself. If the device is getting 50 Mbps then USB tethering also gives you around 45-50 Mbps.
  • Power Efficiency – Connecting devices directly via USB cable rather than wirelessly can reduce power drain on both your phone’s battery and the connected device by up to 20%, depending on device capabilities. This helps conserve battery life. Moreover, when you are using it, your phone also charges a bit.
  • Ease of Use – Establishing a tethered connection takes seconds by simply plugging the USB cable between devices without needing to enter passwords, join networks or configure settings.
  • Enhanced Security – Traffic flowing through the wired USB connection utilizes your phone network’s encrypted protocols like TLS, adding security versus risks of open public Wi-Fi hotspots.

Drawbacks of USB Tethering

  • Mobility Limitations: I felt chained to my phone’s location to maintain the connection. Be prepared to stay within reach of your phone. Unlike the freedom of Wi-Fi, the tether of a cable binds you to your phone’s proximity. Be prepared to stay within arms’ reach.
  • Data Usage Oversight: It’s easy to blow through your cellular data plan unknowingly since it leverages your phone’s allotment. Monitor usage to avoid surprise overage charges.
  • Battery Drain: While lower power than Wi-Fi, nonstop tethering will rapidly deplete your phone’s battery. Have a charger handy for lengthy tethering sessions.
  • Short Session Suitability: For occasional or backup connectivity needs when Wi-Fi falters, tethering works well in small doses.
  • Evaluate Tradeoffs: The simplicity and speed of tethering comes with some restrictions. Assess your priorities and usage patterns to decide if it meets your needs despite the compromises.
usb tethering is turned on and usb is connected to my pc

When to Unleash the USB Tether

Reason 1: Traveling in Remote Areas

One of the biggest perks is being able to connect my laptop to the internet no matter where I am. On a recent trip with sketchy hotel Wi-Fi, I used tethering as a trusty backup. It allowed me to seamlessly research destinations, download maps for navigation, and update my social feeds through my phone’s mobile data. Tethering is a must when exploring off-the-grid locations!

Reason 2: Impromptu Workspaces

I often work remotely from coffee shops, parks or shared workspaces lacking secure business-grade internet access. For times when spotty public Wi-Fi stalled my progress, tapping into tethered connectivity enabled me to power through without disruption. The reliable throughput kept me productive.

Reason 3: Online Gaming & Streaming

Tethering really shines for real-time gaming, streaming movies or even video calls that require low lag without choppiness or buffering woes. It provided the speed boost I needed for winning intense online multiplayer matches. Though tight deadlines or tenth-place finishes were still on me!

Reason 4: Helping Friends in a Pinch

I felt like a hero recently when my friend’s internet abruptly stopped working before an important video interview. With no time to solve router issues, I swiftly set up a tethered connection on my phone. Within seconds of plugging in the USB cable, the issue was resolved and the interview went smoothly thanks to my on-the-fly mobile hotspot!


That concludes today’s blog post. In this installment, I’ve elucidated what USB tethering is, how to use it, and the distinctions between USB tethering on Android and iOS (iPhone) devices. Many individuals were perplexed by this term and its application on both platforms, so I’ve provided a quick table comparison for clarity. Additionally, I conducted a speed comparison between USB tethering and other methods of sharing the internet, including Bluetooth tethering.

I hope you found the information valuable. If you have any feedback, please share it in the comment section below. For any doubts or issues regarding the internet or network, feel free to contact us.

Subscribe on YouTube!
Did you enjoy this tip? If so, check out our very own YouTube channel where we cover Internet & Network, Tips and Tricks and APN Settings, and have a bunch of troubleshooting tips and how-to videos. Click the button below to subscribe!

Leave a Comment