How-To

Does Chromecast Need WiFi? (Use Smart PHONE Data Instead!)

The majority of people using Google Chromecast are casting from the comfort of their own home and have a reliable WiFi signal from their home router.

But what if for some reason you don’t have WiFi in your house? Or what if you’re out camping?

Can you still use Chromecast? Does Chromecast actually need WiFi in order to work?

Does Chromecast need WiFi?

Chromecast does not need WiFi in order to work, you can cast using your Apple or Android phone as a hotspot instead. To use Chromecast without WiFi you’ll need two devices, one to act as the hotspot and the other to cast with. You cannot use the same device for both!

Again, you must use two separate devices – this is the key.

One of the devices (preferably a smart phone) will act as the hotspot. You can think of this phone as replacing your router.

The other smartphone will be used to cast from.

(NOTE: with the latest Chromecast model, the one with the remote, you DON’T need two smartphones. You can follow all the exact steps below, using a single smartphone!)

new chromecast model

Step-by-step instructions

Before we get started I want to be clear about a few assumptions I am making. First is that you have a power source and a TV/monitor with an HDMI port available.

You’ll need both of course in order to power the Chromecast device on and to cast.

And second is that you have two smartphones (although I think a tablet might work too). One will be the hotspot, the other will be used to cast.

Ok great, now that we have that out of the way let’s get to it.

Factory reset your Chromecast

If you just bought your Chromecast and you’re using it for the first time you can skip this step. If not, read on.

You’ll need to factory reset your Chromecast in order to use your phone as a hotspot otherwise your Chromecast will keep trying to connect to your home’s original WiFi network.

To reset the Chromecast press and hold the small button on the device for 20 seconds or so. The Chromecast will first blink orange and then it will turn white and stay white.

reset chromecast to cast without WiFi

Once it stays lit, the device has begun to reset. This reset process typically takes about a minute and thirty seconds in total.

Setup hotspot on one of the devices

Now pick one of your two smartphones as the hotspot and turn it on.

Apple and Android are a bit different in terms of how to activate the hotspot but either way both are pretty easy. Keep in mind that no matter what, the phone being used as a hotspot will need a sim card!

Without a sim card, you can’t use the phone as a hotspot.

It’s also worth checking what kind of data plan you have with your cell phone carrier before you do this. My Verizon plan, for example, has unlimited free data and throws in a lot of free hours of hotspot time as well.

You don’t want any surprise bills.

Once you have the hotspot phone set up you can think of this device as your “wireless router” for now on.

How to setup hotspot on Apple iPhone

To setup your hotspot on your iPhone or iPad simply go to Settings and then click on Personal Hotspot and Allow Others to Join. Toggle it to On.

A password for the hotspot password should be on the same page – copy it on your phone or take a separate note of it.

Now on your other phone that you’re using to cast, pull up the WiFi menu and find your “router” phone’s hotspot you just enabled and enter the password you took down.

You should be connected! To test this, you can try to pull up your Safari browser and search something on Google. If the internet works, you’re good to go.

How to setup hotspot on Android phone

If you have an Android phone, setting up your hotspot is just as easy but ultimately will depend on which phone you have and the version of Android that you’re running.

In most cases you can open the pull-down shade and turn on the hotspot there. If not, it is probably buried in the settings somewhere.

For example if you go to Connections and then Mobile Hotspot and Tethering you can turn on Mobile Hotspot. Alternatively you might just have Settings and then Tethering.

You could also just search the device for the words “hotspot” or “tethering”.

Setup Chromecast on the other device

Now take the other smartphone (again, Apple or Android is fine) and download the Google Home app. On Apple iPhones you’ll find this in the App Store and on Android phones it will be in the Google Play Store.

Once Google Home is installed follow the guided steps to connect your Chromecast.

When you get to the “Name your home” step, choose “Add another home”.

add another home to cast without WiFi

Then allow “Location Access” and your phone should look for and successfully locate your Chromecast device.

Then proceed through the next few steps and eventually you will land on the “Connect to WiFi” screen. Since you turned on your other phone’s hotspot in the step before you should see it as one of the options in the WiFi list.

Go ahead and select your hotspot from the WiFi list and enter the hotspot password then “Connect”.

There are a few more simple steps you can click “Next” on and then you should be done!

Here is a great tutorial of all of these steps in case you prefer to watch a video:

Streaming with Chromecast using hotspot!

That’s it! Now you should be ready to cast to your TV/monitor using your other phone as your hotspot/router.

What’s great about this setup is that going forward any other device that is connected to your hotspot can now cast to your screen.

So if you’re with friends and one of them has an iPhone they want to cast with, they can simply connect it to your hotspot and then cast away.

As a reminder, the phone that you’re using as a hotspot CANNOT also be used to cast, it must be a different device that casts.

Think of the hotspot phone as a router only at this point and nothing more (unless you have the latest Chromecast model – the one with the remote).

Now, on the “non-hotspot” phone, you should be able to cast YouTube, YouTube TV, Netflix, Hulu and more by simply opening one of those respective apps and hitting the cast icon at the upper right hand corner.

At this point you should be successfully using Chromecast with just your cell phone’s mobile data!

Conclusion

No, Chromecast does not need WiFi in order to work, you can use a cell phone as a hotspot instead.

The catch is that you’ll need two smartphones (iPhones and/or Android phones both work!) – one to setup as the hotspot and the other to cast from.

You can think of your hotspot phone as the wireless router, replacing your home router.

Unless you have the latest Chromecast model, the one with the remote, in which case you can use a single smartphone!

But before you get started make sure to factory reset your Chromecast by holding the small button on the side for 20 seconds or so.

With your hotspot successfully set up on one of the phones, download the Google Home app on the other and setup your Chromecast with it.

That’s it, you should be able to successfully stream YouTube, YouTube TV, Netflix, Hulu, etc. without needing WiFi!