Many people do not realise that the smartphone in their pocket can do a lot more than just browse the web using a 3G signal or nearby Wi-Fi . A large number of contemporary handsets can be turned into Wi-Fi hotspots in their own right, pulling down data from a 3G network and allowing multiple devices to share this connection by generating a short range Wi-Fi signal.

If you have a smartphone that can be used as a personal Wi-Fi hotspot then you can connect a laptop, tablet or any other Wi-Fi enabled device to the internet. This makes it easy to get online and take full advantage of any generous data tariff which you may have available.

Those who have yet to pick up a smartphone that offers this feature will want a little information about which are the best mobiles to choose and which network providers have the 3G coverage and network speed to actually make this worthwhile. Here is a quick guide to help you get your footing in the world of personal Wi-Fi hotspots.

HTC One X

This is HTC`s flagship Android 4.0 smartphone at the moment and you certainly get a lot of phone for your money, with a 4.7 inch HD display, a quad core processor and an eight megapixel camera all present and correct.

The One X has been critically acclaimed and features the ability to broadcast its 3G connection via Wi-Fi to other devices. At the moment it is one of the hottest handsets around and should have the power to ensure that data speeds are fast in areas of good coverage.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus

The high end competition for the One X comes in the form of the Galaxy Nexus, which features a similarly sized 4.65 inch AMOLED display and the latest version of Android.

Wi-Fi tethering will be a real benefit to the tech-loving owners of this phone, who can also take advantage of full HD video recording and integrated DLNA for short range media streaming.

Apple 4S

It took some time for integrated Wi-Fi tethering to be an option on Apple smartphones, but now you can create a personal hotspot for yourself and your friends to use with the latest iPhone.

You can also enjoy the clarity offered by the 3.5 inch Retina Display and the prowess of the eight megapixel camera.

Network Providers

When it comes to network providers, there is a varying degree of support for Wi-Fi tethering which can occasionally be disabled in order to prevent particularly high levels of data usage being recorded by a small number of customers.

Major providers like O2, Vodafone and Everything Everywhere do offer some tethering to customers, but it is the Three network which is currently the only company willing to give users truly unlimited downloads through a tethered device. This should become even more useful when the iPhone 5 arrives later in the year, because its anticipated screen size increase will make media streaming even more appealing.