Connect & use Wi-Fi Direct on Android phones

Wi-Fi Direct, also known as peer-to-peer or P2P, is a wireless technology that allows two devices, mobile phones or applications to quickly find and interact with nearby devices without needing to connect to a network or hotspot. It can establish a direct, peer-to-peer Wi-Fi connection without requiring a wireless router. Compared to Bluetooth, Wi-Fi Direct can help us connect two devices at a range beyond the capabilities of Bluetooth. Similar to Bluetooth, you need to introduce each Wi-Fi Direct capable device to the other and create a connection, just like how we pair two devices via Bluetooth.

wi-fi direct icon

Connecting two Android phones via Wi-Fi Direct

Today, we will use a Tecno mobile and a Huawei phone, both are Android powered, to show you the quick steps to pair two Android mobile phones. Keep in mind that the settings can vary by phone. As a result, you may see some difference on various phones or models.

On Tecno mobile phone, open Settings app, choose Network & internet.

tecno mobile phone network internet settings
tecno mobile phone network internet settings

Here we can see Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct and other options. We can’t however turn on Wi-Fi Direct without enabling Wi-Fi first. So touch the toggle besides Wi-Fi to turn it on first, as we have to turn this setting on to access the Wi-Fi Direct settings as well as share files wirelessly through Wi-Fi Direct. Note that you don’t need to connect your phone to a valid Wi-Fi network here. Wi-Fi Direct doesn’t require a wireless network or hotspot. Once we turned on Wi-Fi, tap on Wi-Fi Direct. It will then scan peer devices nearby automatically.

tecno mobile phone wifi direct settings search, invite, connect peer device

On the Huawe phone, run Settings, choose Wireless & networks > Wi-Fi. Tap the toggle to turn on Wi-Fi first.

huawei phone turn on wi-fi and Wi-fi direct in settings

Then tap the More menu (three dots icon) in the upper right, select Wi-Fi Direct from the expanded menu list. The mobile phone will start searching for available devices nearby. Whenever any Wi-Fi Direct certified devices found, they will be listed in the Available Devices section.

huawei mobile phone wi-fi direct settings accept connection request from other android phone

We can view available Wi-Fi Direct-certified devices on both smart phones. You can start the pairing from either device. In this case, we can request a connection from Tecno mobile or Huawei phone. Then receive an invitation to connect to another device on the other. When two phones connect directly through Wi-Fi Direct, they form a Wi-Fi Direct group using Wi-Fi Protected Setup.

In this case, the connection request was sent from Tecno mobile to Huawei phone, but the Huawei phone acts as the group owner for the Wi-Fi direct network, the Tecno phone acts as the client. When determining which device should be the group owner for the network, Wi-Fi Direct examines each device’s power management, UI, and service capabilities and uses this information to choose the device that can handle server responsibilities most effectively.

Once connected, you can use other compatible apps to print documents, share data, sync files, play games, and display content to another device from notebooks, netbooks, smartphones, tablets on the go.

Quickly find Wi-Fi Direct on all Android phones

Since the settings may vary by phone. You may find it difficult to locate Wi-Fi Direct from Settings on some Android devices. For example, on my itel S15 Pro, I have to browse to Settings > Network connection > Wi-Fi > Use Wi-Fi > Wi-Fi preferences > Wi-Fi Direct.

itel mobile phone wi-fi preferences wi-fi direct

Tap on Wi-Fi Direct, then search and connect nearby devices, mobile phones via Wi-Fi direct.

If you don’t know where is Wi-Fi Direct on your Android phone, you can do a search to quickly find it. Open the Settings app, there will be a search box at the top, simply type in wifi direct, the search result will be displayed below the search box, tap on it to quickly access Wi-Fi direct on your Android mobile.

Transfer data using Wi-Fi direct between Huawei phones

For data sharing between two Huawe phones, there’s no need for third-party transfer apps. Wi-Fi Direct allows you to directly transfer data between Huawei devices.

On the first Huawei phone, open Files app, the Gallery, or other supported apps to find the file you like to share, touch and hold to select it, then choose Share > Wi-Fi Direct. When another device is detected, touch its name to establish the connection and begin file transfer.

On the receiving Huawei phone, go to enable Wi-Fi from the Wi-Fi settings screen, touch Wi-Fi Direct to enable detection. When you receive an incoming file prompt, touch Accept to begin the transfer. The received file will be saved under Files in the Wi-Fi Direct folder by default.

File transfer apps use Wi-Fi Direct

Many file transfer apps nowadays make use of Wi-Fi Direct for wireless file sharing, such as Zapya, Send Anywhere, Xender.

In fact, many other file managers, explorers, transfer apps can also help Android users share files across different Android phones via Wi-Fi Direct. Many of them just do not help us automatically connect devices up via Wi-Fi Direct. As a result, we can go through above explained process to manually enable Wi-Fi direct on both phones and connect them before we can use more apps to share data, sync files, print documents, etc.

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