Android to Android Tethering over Bluetooth

I have a Galaxy Nexus (GNex hereafter) phone and a Nexus 7 (N7 hereafter) tablet. Since the N7 is WIFI only, it’s not much use on the bus unless I use some kind of tether back to my phone. Until recently, I’d simply created a WIFI hotspot on my GNex and the N7 would happily pick that up. However, this method of tethering has several drawbacks :

  1. It’s not battery friendly – both devices need to run their WIFI full time.
  2. It’s a broadcast – the hotspot’s SSID can be hidden of course, but anyone sniffing the airwaves will still see my hotspot and may attempt to hack it. Unlikely that they’d succeed, given that it’s WPA2, but still.
  3. I have to manually turn on the hotspot on my GNex and wait 20 seconds for my N7 to see the connection and get an IP address.
  4. I have to manually turn off the hotspot on my GNex.
  5. I also have to remember to turn back on WIFI on the GNex, or it’ll just use 3G all day thereafter, because turning on a hotspot automatically turns off your WIFI.

Lately, I wondered if there was a better way to do things. Could I use Bluetooth and just leave the service running full time?

Well, since both my devices run Android’s latest “Jelly Bean” release, I thought it would be a doddle to set up. I was wrong, sadly, because there’s a fairly obscure setting you have to set up before hand. However, once you know about that, it’s very simple. In the hope it helps you, here’s the full step by step :

First, and most obviously, turn on the both device’s “Bluetooth” setting.


You’ll need to do that on both devices.

Then, pair them up by clicking “Search for devices” on one of the devices and clicking on the name of other device. You’ll be asked to verify a PIN number. It doesn’t matter what the PIN number is, as long as it’s the same PIN number on both devices.

Now, on the GNex, here’s the bit that caused me a headache. Go to Settings, choose More… then choose Tethering & Portable Hotspot. In there, you have tick Bluetooth tethering. If you don’t, the tether will (silently!) fail and you’ll be left, like me, scratching your head.


Okay, now you’re ready to use the GNex’s internet via Bluetooth. All you have to do is tell the N7 to actually use it.

On the N7, go to Settings, then click on the word Bluetooth (not the toggle – the word). Finally, click on the name of your GNex you paired earlier. To get it all working, choose Internet Access.


That’s it. Assuming that your GNex has some kind of internet access, then so now will your N7 tablet, via Bluetooth.

I’ve only just completed this myself and initial impressions are that the browsing on my N7 is significantly slower than over WIFI (despite my GNex using WIFI). Obviously, there’s a bandwidth limitation when using Bluetooth – but at around 2Mbits, that shouldn’t hinder web page rendering. Both devices are Bluetooth 3 capable, although the GNex apparently has hardware capable of Bluetooth 4. However, from what I could find, all Bluetooth devices communicate at around 2Mbits unless they use other technology to create high-speed channels, such as Bluetooth 3’s HS capability, which simply creates a WIFI 802.11 channel – which would kind of defeat the purpose of this anyway!

Here’s the advantages of this set up, assuming the speed issue is all in my head :

  1. Low power Bluetooth will preserve battery on the N7.
  2. The devices will pair up when they see each other, so no manual steps to get internet access on the bus. (I need to confirm this – I have a sneaky suspicion that I still need to tell the N7 to use the GNex internet each time they reconnect – which would devalue this for me quite a bit)
  3. I can keep WIFI enabled on the GNex and this tether will simply use that faster connection if it’s available.
  4. I’m not advertising an available WIFI hotspot to everyone on the bus!

Time will tell. I’ll use it for a few days and see how it goes.

  • Alan Clement

    Thanks for this Neil.  Top work.
    I ran a speedtest for each of the configurations and it does appear that going through bluetooth to the phone when connected to wifi it is severely restricted speed-wise.  The good news is that going through bluetooth on to the phone on 3G it is almost as quick as the phone is itself going straight out to 3G.  Not sure why that would be, but as I would only use it while I’m on the road, that’s fine by me.  Also, it does seem that you will need to enable internet over bluetooth on the N7 each time.  No biggie really – since the hotspot on the phone drains way more battery than the bluetooth running, it’s a small price to pay.

    • Neil Broadley (Scaine)

       I’ve been using this on the bus for the past week now and it’s been rock solid. Speed wise, it may be a touch slower, but not noticeably so. I do indeed have to “start” the internet connection on the N7 each time I want to use it (assuming the devices have ever been out of bluetooth range of course), but it’s much easier and quicker than starting a WIFI tether on my phone, if only for the fact that I can now just keep the phone in my pocket – it’s the N7 that starts the connection now.

      All in all, I’ll be sticking with this setup – it’s pretty much pain-free.

      • Phil Morris

        Hi Neil, Found your site from a google search – was trying to do the same thing with my nexus 7 tablet and Galaxy s3.

        To ‘fix’ the auto connect to internet issue – I use Tasker App with the 3rd Party Bluetooth Auto Connect plugin.

        I have a task running on the nexus 7 that detects when not on Wifi – and auto connects via bluetooth to my phone (devices previously paired).

        Not sure if on your phone that you need to manually start the bluetooth tether option – on mine you do – but there is a fix for this too – from the same makers of the above plugin. It auto starts the bluetooth tender option on phone start.


      • Neil Broadley (Scaine)

        Nice one. I’d personally be a bit reluctant to use this, as I’m often sitting next to my tablet in the house with my phone in my pocket, so in that scenario, I’d rather the tablet use the house WIFI, rather than Bluetooth tethering to my phone. Although it does sound like Tasker can handle that, so it’s something I think I might have to look into.

        It’s the tethering option that annoys me the most. Why does it randomly switch itself off? It’s not just reboots either – it seems to be a timed option, or perhaps a battery saving mechanism (switch it off when battery is <10% or similar). Pretty annoying.

      • Phil Morris


        The task also disconnects the bluetooth connecting if the tablet can connects to a wifi network.

        With me – at home – connects to wifi – leave home (connects to phone), then at work connects to wifi dropping bluetooth connection until leave to got home.

  • greg waldrop

    Will this charge my verizon account? I called. They don’t know either. They said if it didn’t say anything about terms and condition don’t worry about it
    So will someone let me know anything?

    • Neil Broadley (Scaine)

      Hi Greg. Yes, it will very much charge your Verizon account. You’re taking your tablet device and using the data plan on your phone. So you’re using your phone’s data plan to provide internet access.
      Worse than that, because the tablet just sees an internet connection, it will possibly do things that ordinarily it wouldn’t. It may, for example, try updating its apps – which can result in big downloads.
      To be fair, the same is true if you’d used your phone to make a WIFI hotspot, but just to be clear, regardless of how you connect to your phone for internet, it’s definitely your phone’s data plan that is impacted.

  • BobBaldwin

    This worked great!! Thanks for your post!

  • Abhi

    hey m not getting the option of profiles (Internet connection)….. plz help me…

    • Hans Beckenbaur

      I had this problem – if you unpair and then re-pair the devices then the new options should show up.

      • lew

        I have same problem.
        I unpaired then re-paired them and still didn’t get the option to select Internet Access (the only options are rename and unpair ). Any idea?

      • Neil Broadley (Scaine)

        Don’t know how I missed your post until now, Lew. Just unpair your devices, then repair them again. You should be able to tick the “Internet Access” option once again.

      • Inoreenyan nyan

        I’m having the same problem. I repeated it many times. But no “Internet Access” popping up. Please help. I’m using Alcatel onetouch glory 2, and Onetouch tab 7HD

      • Neil Broadley (Scaine)

        Not sure how I can help, Inoreenyan. Your alcatel is running Android 4.1 so the instructions above should work. I wonder if your telco might be blocking tether – I hear that’s quite common in the States, so maybe elsewhere too. Sorry!

  • michael

    I am trying to bluetooth tether my Galaxy 2 tab (android 4.0.3 ics) to my Galaxy S phone (android 2.2, can’t be officially updated) but neither seem to have a bluetooth tethering option in the settings menu.
    Is that right?
    If so i guess i just need to stick to battery-draining but effective wifi tethering…

  • Wayne

    Thank you very much for this. I had the same trouble getting a bluetooth tether established between my N7 and a Motorola (both with latest Android). If Motorola have instructions about this on their website, they are very well hidden. Your instructions set me straight in 2 minutes. Thanks again.

  • shahid

    Thanx a lot

  • Michael Quinlan

    Great post! I just got a Nexus 7 and wanted to use my Galaxy Nexus for tethering. When I realized I could to Bluetooth tethering instead of Wi-Fi, a quick Google search less me here. Like Phil, I have my setup automated, but I’m using the Secure Settings plugin (since I already have it) on the Nexus 7.

  • ionFreeman

    Right now, we’re on New Jersey transit, my wife’s playing Where’s my water with our three year old on my nexus 7, and I’m writing this on my S4, thanks to your post. We did this on the way down, to, and the S4 did stop sharing its Internet connection over Bluetooth. I had to go in and check the box again.

  • Matt

    Thank you for this post! I couldn’t get this to work on my own — I didn’t realize I needed to enable bluetooth tethering on the phone. I have the same Gnex+n7 setup.

  • Pingback: Internetverbindung via Bluetooth -

  • Nero Tux

    Doesn’t work with Acer Iconia A1-810 Kitikat

    • wolf tatoo

      Does not work for my A1-810 too!!

  • chhotu

    suppose i have galaxy core device which is registered on some wi fi network, and i also i have other device(pc/mobile) which is not registered on wi fi. so how can share the wi fi connection to unregistered phone via Bluetooth threatening while accessing connection on registered device…..
    as because if Bluetooth therning is done the wi fi connection auto goes on swich off…

  • Ajay Gavit

    Internet access profile is not showing me in pair devices in my sony xperia C.why?

  • Carl

    Just a “thank you” message. I would never have thought of that “silently fail to connect without explanation unless you activate tethering on a completely different screen” thing without the pointer in this article. Much appreciated.

  • JG Games

    Excellent, I know this is an old post but very useful. For years I used foxfi/pdanet. Which works but not on every app. So many times I didn’t get Internet access on say “Samsung Milk music” or “Google play music” but yet I’d get Internet access to play games like “Clash of clans”. This left me puzzled for years! Since I’ve converted my Galaxy Note 10.1 gt-n8013 tablet to be my car media center, it annoyed me that I had to download all my music and podcasts and couldn’t use Google maps for traffic updates. After reading this post I realized I didn’t even need foxfi or pdanet! Just pair the Galaxy Note 10.1 to my Galaxy Note 5 and turn on blutooth tethering and Internet access and it works perfectly! Thanks so much!

  • Sam Szymonik


    I’m a little late to this post but I really liked it I didn’t realize AndroAndrod these type of capabilities. What I was thinking on the other hand since the Wi-Fi connection is slow is using a Nexus 7 tablet as a GPS instead of my phone the larger screen would be much better for navigation. It would be able to reroute on Google Maps as long as it had an internet connection I could disable all the other apps and updates and all it would be used for is a GPS. I’m going to try it out soon and see how it works with connecting to two Bluetooth devices at the same time that being my hands-free device in my car. With Google advancing Android auto into a standalone app I am wondering how this would work on my Nexus 7 tablet. This would be a great way to add Android auto into your car and minimize on the cost. However I am waiting on Google to implement Android auto as a standalone app.