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Best Smartphone Apps to Find Your Mobile Signal Strength

on May 19, 2016

There's got to be an app for that, right?

So, we've already covered finding your nearest cell phone tower. But the question is this: Are there any magical smartphone apps that can instantly give full bars, great signal, and faster internet?

And can this app also summon unicorns to our doorsteps, magically turn all things into fluffy marshmallows, and finally deliver the inner peace we've been looking for?

For non-sarcastic people, that means no.

But, but, but, what about this you say:

Ah, yes. So you spend hundreds on a smartphone or cellphone, get stuck with a 2-year contract with high monthly fees, and a sticker--

Yes. A STICKER will surprisingly boost your bars & party like it's 1999.

Sadly, the answer is still no.

However, there are legitimate smartphone apps that can tell you exactly just how poor your signal is and even the nearest cell tower locations. 

But first a little lesson.

The Horrible Truth About Cell Phone Bars

They're subjective across all carriers.

What's 1 bar on T-Mobile might be 3 bars on Verizon might be 2 bars on Sprint might be full bars on AT&T despite having the EXACT same signal and performing at the EXACT same speeds. 

There's no standard. Each carrier can determine what's 1,2,3, full bars on their own service. So who's telling the truth? Or here's a better question for you, do you trust them?

Luckily, there's a better way to measure your cell phone signal and that's by looking at decibel gain.

Cell phone signals are measured in dB (decibels). They're essentially radio waves, the AM/FM kind that are great at traveling long distances but easily get interrupted and lead to spotty service. That's when a cell phone signal booster comes in handy

Anyway, all cellular devices operate within this standard:-50 dB to -120 dB frequency.

-50 dB is considered full strength (full bars). -120 dB is considered a dead zone (no service).

dB readings are not subjective, all cell phone signal in US & Canada need to operate within this range to work. The closer you are to -50 dB, the better your signal. The closer to -120 dB, the worse your signal. And your smartphone has the ability to display dB readings.

Recommended Smartphone Apps to Find Signal Strength 

1. OpenSignal

Probably the most complete of the all the apps. Tests wi-fi & cellular signal speeds. Best thing is the network rank which shows the best carriers that serve your area with a robust coverage map. And the speed test shows download & upload speeds and ranks them whether you have enough for decent web browsing, video, and VoIP calls. Highly recommended.

Download: For iPhone | For Android

2. Root Metric's Coverage Map

Another good one to download. Good coverage map (probably Google Maps) with comparisons to other carriers and their respective upload and download speeds. 

Download: For iPhone | For Android

3. Sensorly

Like the others, a very good app that shows network speeds with a detailed coverage map.  

Download: For iPhone | For Android

Other Smartphone Apps to Find Signal Strength

Two Steps Beyond's Coverage?

It's only available for iOS & iPhone, and it's $2.99. However, unlike the others, it's usable offline, meaning you don't have to be connected to the web for it to find cell towers, because they're already stored (& updated!) in the app.

Download: For iPhone

Akvelon's Signal Finder

So where the heck are your closest cell towers? This app uses Google Maps and shows actual and possible cell towers near your area. Hasn't been updated in awhile and recent reviews aren't so good, so your mileage may vary with this one. 

Download: For iPhone | For Android

Finding Accurate dB reading on your iPhone & Android Device

Besides using apps, you can also your smartphones to access your dB reading. Remember, anything towards -50 dB is great signal and anything towards -120 dB is a dead zone.

For iPhone Users

  1. Go into Phone Mode

    How to access db cell signal on iPhone, Step 1
  2. Dial and Call *3001#12345#*

    How to access db cell signal on iPhone, Step 2
  3. You'll enter Field Test Mode

    How to access db cell signal on iPhone, Step 3
  4. Drag down your notifications bar and you will see your dB reading in the left-hand corner.

    How to access db cell signal on iPhone, Step 4

For Android Users

  1. Access Settings

    How to access db cell signal on Android phones, Step 1
  2. Then General

    How to access db cell signal on Android phones, Step 2
  3. Go to About Phone

    How to access db cell signal on Android phones, Step 3
  4. Network or Status

    How to access db cell signal on Android phones, Step 4
  5. You should see your dB Value

    How to access db cell signal on Android phones, Step 5

Once you have a dB reading, then you know just how accurately good, average, or bad your signal strength is. -50 dB to - 79 dB is very good signal. -80 dB to - 99 dB is an average signal. -100 dB to -120 dB is below average or poor signal.

And if you walk around the perimeter of your house, you can generally tell the location of your cell tower because your dB reading will dip towards -50 dB. How's that for two birds and one stone?

For more reading, check out our guide on finding cell towers and for people suffering from poor signal, our ultimate guide on cell phone signal boosters is a great place to start.

Need help? Email us today ( or give us a call at 1-800-568-2723. A cell phone signal expert will gladly assist you in getting better signal instantly.

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