Here’s how to do port forwarding with your iPhone hotspot:
Port forwarding with an iPhone hotspot is not a straightforward matter.
For the most part, port forwarding doesn’t work with carrier networks, so you’ll need to find an adequate workaround instead.
You can use VPN services or apps from the app store to find a way to effectively forward ports.
So if you want to learn all about port forwarding with your hotspot on your iPhone, then this article is for you.
What Is Port Forwarding?
Before we get into the mechanics of port forwarding with an iPhone hotspot, I should probably cover the basics.
What is port forwarding?
It’s a term that describes how a router manages traffic on its own network.
Let me explain.
If you have Wi-Fi at home, then any device connected to your Wi-Fi network is ultimately communicating with your router.
That’s the device that manages everything.
So far, it’s all pretty simple.
Port forwarding is the technique your router uses to distinguish between the different devices on your home network (port forwarding also works on non-home networks, but this example is simplified).
Basically, your router has a public-facing IP address. This is the address the rest of the internet uses to connect with you.
But, that address doesn’t connect directly to your phone or laptop or whatever is on your Wi-Fi.
Instead, the rest of the internet gets stopped by your router.
From there, your router uses ports for each device on the network.
The port allows the router to keep track of which device is which, and it then creates IP masks for your devices.
These are temporary addresses that allow your device to connect to other devices on the internet while maintaining some privacy.
Port forwarding is the name of this whole process whether done with your home router or iPhone.
In case that’s still a bit on the technical side, let me explain it another way.
Imagine you live in an apartment complex and you don’t have a car.
So, you order an Uber.
Instead of giving the Uber your exact address, including the apartment number, you just give them the street address and meet them at the entrance to the complex.
In this case, they know where your apartment is, but they don’t know exactly where you live.
This is similar to what port forwarding does. Internet traffic can find your router (the overall complex), but it can’t find your exact device.
Your router uses port forwarding as a middleman to maintain the connection without giving away your device’s real IP address.
Why Do You Need Port Forwarding?
Based on everything I explained so far, port forwarding is the means by which two devices can establish a connection even when they are on private networks.
I’ve emphasized privacy so far, but there’s really more involved in port forwarding, especially on iPhone.
One of the primary reasons to use it is to make a device on your network accessible to others.
More specifically, you can use something called a static IP address with port forwarding so that others can connect to a device at will.
To simplify, let’s look at one of the most common reasons to do this: gaming servers.
Let’s say you want to host your own Minecraft server.
In order to do that, you’ll need a static IP address and port forwarding on your network.
The static IP address is something you get from your internet service provider.
Since IP addresses can actually change very rapidly, the static IP gives you a designated address that can then be provided to any of your friends who will also connect to the server.
Still, the Minecraft server is sitting inside of your private network.
So, you need port forwarding to manage traffic that connects to the server. This is where things can get complicated, as there are a lot of options.
But, at the most basic level, you can assign a port to your Minecraft server.
With port forwarding, your router will automatically connect traffic to the server when they use the right IP address and port number.
This is a specific example, but port forwarding works similarly for many other occasions.
If you want to host your own website, port forwarding is necessary.
Also, if you want to set up remote desktop connections so you can connect to your own computer when you’re away from the house, port forwarding is a viable way to make it work.
Ultimately, if you need port forwarding on your iPhone hotspot, you probably have a specific task in mind, so let’s get into some of the ways you can make that work.
Achieving Port Forwarding With Your iPhone Hotspot? (2 Ways)
Now, we can really get into the thick of it all.
If you need port forwarding on your iPhone hotspot, things are going to get a little weird.
The main issue is that your hotspot is most likely connecting to an LTE carrier network, and this makes port forwarding more complicated.
Think about how port forwarding is really working.
It’s assigning ports to each device on your private network.
But, how big is a carrier network?
How many devices are on it?
Port forwarding isn’t robust enough for that level of traffic management.
So, your iPhone’s carrier network use something called NAT(Network Address Translation) instead of port forwarding.
To skip another long-winded explanation, you can think of NAT as port forwarding on steroids.
They work pretty differently, but the NAT protocols are what allow these massively enormous networks to distinguish between each connected device.
So, port forwarding isn’t available on carrier networks and iPhones by default. Instead, you need a workaround.
The first thing you can try is contacting your carrier. They might offer port forwarding services.
If so, that’s the easiest solution.
If that isn’t available, these two workarounds are worth considering.
#1 Use a VPN
In a lot of cases, VPNs allow for port management.
It won’t necessarily work the same way as port forwarding, but it effectively gets the job done.
You can assign a port if you need to, and that allows you more freedom in how you configure your hotspot network.
Keep one thing in mind.
If you do this, connections through the assigned port will be slower.
You’re adding a VPN to the equation, and extra steps tend to slow down connections.
You don’t really need to know a lot about VPNs to make this work. Instead, shop around for VPN service providers.
Make sure they allow you to manage ports, and you’ll be good to go.
#2 Check for Apps
You can also use apps from the App Store to manage ports.
Each will work in its own way, so you might need to do some extra reading to accomplish your task.
But, there are apps that can very likely help.
As an example, Port Forwarding Wizards provides port forwarding resources for iPhones.
It’s certainly worth exploring. Shop around, and you can probably find what you need.
If you’re looking to learn about port forwarding with an Android hotspot, read our guide here.