The Most Effective Ways to Improve Your Cell Phone Signal
Poor cell phone signal affecting your calls and internet? After surveying hundreds of thousands of people and countless hours of research and testing, we feel we have enough experience to definitively list the 13 best ways to improve your coverage & reception:
01. Cell Phone Signal Booster
Cell phone repeaters (also known as cell phone antenna boosters or cellular amplifiers) take existing weak cellular signal from the outside and amplify 4G, 4G LTE, and 3G signal up to 32X for any phone and any carrier. When it comes to improving your cell phone signal, they work great, especially when you’ve got no phone signal in your house or car.
Think of it like a megaphone for your cellular service: making signal louder for your cell phone antenna to pick up.
Here's a quick overview of cell phone boosters:
- Improves 4G, 4G LTE & 3G for any phone, tablet, hotspot, etc. on any carrier
- Amplifies cell phone signal to AND from the cell tower
- One-time purchases with no monthly fees
- No need to be connected to internet or WiFi to work
- All boosters sold by Wilson Amplifiers are pre-approved by the FCC & all carriers
The Best Cell Phone Signal Booster for Home
- Up to 5,000 sq. ft. of coverage under best conditions
- Up to +65 dB of gain, with 21 dBm uplink and 12 dBm downlink
- Multiple accessories for maximum coverage and customization (sold separately)
- Complete coverage for multiple rooms or midsize home for all carriers across multiple devices
- Outdoor yagi antenna and indoor panel antenna configuration, with stylish fabric front
The weBoost Home MultiRoom is designed to cover several rooms, an entire floor, or a whole midsize, one-story home with boosted cellular signal. As its name suggests, you can expect multiple rooms of coverage with the unit assuming decent outside signal. Assuming flawless outside signal, you can expect up to 5,000 square feet of coverage, but in most situations you can expect 2,000-3,000 square feet of indoor coverage. If you live in a rural area with very weak outdoor signal, expect significantly reduced coverage. In fact, if you’re in an area with next to no signal, this is the lowest grade signal booster you should ever consider buying.
It features a nice, clean look, with an indoor antenna that won't stand out amid your existing home decor.
The weBoost Home MultiRoom boosts signal for all major North American carriers. Should you ever change carrier, the weBoost Home MultiRoom will still work. It also supports all Sprint bands for the first time on a weBoost unit.
If you live in an extremely weak signal area, or have a really big house you want to cover, consider its sister product, the weBoost Home Complete.
- FREE shipping, no minimum purchase.
- 90 Day money back guarantee.
- Lifetime support.
The best Cell Phone Signal Booster for Car
- Up to +50 dB of gain - the max allowed for a mobile signal booster in North America
- Highest uplink output of any vehicle booster
- Works for all phones and all carriers
- Boosts 698-716 MHz, 729-746 MHz, 777-787 MHz, 824-894 MHz, 1850-1995 MHz, 1710-1755/2110-2115 MHz cellular radio frequencies.
- Sleek, metallic exterior designed to displace excess heat for peak performance
- Custom bracket for under seat or in-truck mounting options
- Easy to use SMB connectors
- Better talk, text, and data speeds guaranteed
The weBoost Drive Reach is the newest, most powerful vehicle booster from Wilson Electronics.
A slim outside antenna picks up signal. An indiscreet inside antenna (usually Velcroed to the driver seat) broadcasts signal inside. You have to be about an arm's length to get the boosted signal, so it's best for your typical sedan, truck, or SUV.
This is the best booster no matter where you live, as not only does it reach farther to the cell towers for rural areas, but it does a better job handling more noisy, urban environments than other signal boosters on the market. Highly recommended.
- FREE shipping, no minimum purchase.
- 90 Day money back guarantee.
- Lifetime support.
The best Cell Phone Signal Booster For Small Commercial Buildings or Large Homes
Powerful small medium business solution:
Boosts Voice, Text Messages, 4G, LTE & 3G Data
Affordable pro signal booster:
Coverage up to 25,000 sq ft at currently discounted prices.
- Up to +70 dB Gain.
There are many cellular solutions for buildings with a range from 25K to 100K sq ft. This model happens to be the tweener for large homes and small commercial buildings with coverage up to 25,000 sq ft.
The Pro 70 Plus has several different antenna and ohmage configurations, so there's certainly a kit tailored to your exact situation out there.
- FREE shipping, no minimum purchase.
- 30 Day money back guarantee.
- Lifetime support.
It’s important to note that the quality of improvement is dependent on the outside signal strength. In general, if you can use your phone a little ways outside your house but not inside, then a cell booster will work, because building material is the number 1 cause of poor cell phone signal.
Cell phone signal boosters bypass all those internal and external obstructions.
02. Use Your WiFi Network
WiFi calling uses your broadband landline internet instead of cellular service to make calls and connect to the web.
As of now (September 2019), all major carriers including AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint support WiFi calling on most newer smartphones such as Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Google Pixel, LG phones, and other iOS & Android devices.
If you already have landline internet in your home, connecting your WiFi calling-compatible cell phone should be able to help maintain a steady connection.
Keep in mind, if your WiFi internet speeds are spotty or horrible to begin with, then it won't be much help either, because now you have another device hogging your bandwidth.
Also, satellite internet users from HughesNet, Viasat, and DISH won’t find much use with WiFi calling because of the high latency, unless you’re into telegraph line time delays.
A femtocell (also known as microcell or network extender) is a piece of equipment which depends on having a broadband landline internet to convert landline internet to cellular signals and vice versa.
It’s like having a personal mini cell phone tower.
While femtocell is the proper broad term, each carrier likes to brand their own femtocell names. You'll see things like AT&T Microcell, Verizon Network Extender, T-Mobile CellSpot or Sprint Airave or Magic Box. These are merely brand names, and are all femtocells by nature.
These devices can cost from $100 to $300 along with a possible monthly subscription fee on top of your landline internet bill. Also, you'll also need a minimum speed up to 10 Mbps download & 5 MB Mbps on your landline internet for it to work decently.
When compared to a cell phone signal booster, they cost a little less upfront, but require a longer term financial commitment. If you live in an area that's likely to get a new cell tower in your area, these are a good investment. However, if you live in a very rural area (with spotty landline internet to begin with), or if the building material makeup of your home is the primary factor for your weak signal, those aren't getting better anytime soon, and a traditional cell phone signal booster is probably a better option.
There're also a few other things to consider when considering a femtocell.
The good news:
If you're a long-time subscriber with continual reception problems, contacting your carrier may result in a free or discounted femtocell. You'll have to persuade a bit, so get that bartering cap on or call Aunt Sally the Haggle Queen to help.
Usually, long-time customers in an area with known cell phone problems have more success with getting a free or discounted unit.
Now the bad news:
Carriers are moving away from femtocells, because they'd rather have customers use WiFi calling. That means no more discounts or possibly devices in the near future since carriers don't want to eat the cost unless it's worth the investment.
But still, until that time comes, if you already have landline internet and don't mind sacrificing your home internet speeds to help improve your cell reception, it's worth a look.
04. Mobile Hotspots
Mobile hotspots (also known as 4G routers, mobile WiFi routers, LTE modems, etc.) are cellular routers that use 4G data instead of landline WiFi to connect to the internet.
Popular mobile hotspot routers include the Nighthawk LTE Router, Jetpack MiFi, and Linkzone. Popular manufacturers are Netgear, Linksys, TP-Link, Huawei, Pepwave, and Cradlepoint.
While mobile hotspots can be used as an alternative for home internet, it’s mostly used for people on the go who need connections to multiple devices and already have good inside cellular signal.
Besides, you already own a mobile hotspot. Most modern smartphones ( iOS and Android) are also capable of becoming hotspots for other devices.
So… if a mobile hotspot device and cell phone are essentially using the same technology, why bother with one?
If a hotspot comes with an antenna or extension port for an antenna, then it may be capable of providing better signal to your cell phone.
However, compared to a cell phone signal booster, a mobile hotspot does not boost any signal whereas a cell phone booster amplifies incoming signal up to 32X. In fact, many hotspot users also get a signal booster to work in tandem with their 4G router.
05. Find a Cell Phone Tower Near You
"How do I find a cell tower near me?" That’s a question we often get at Wilson Amplifiers.
After all, knowing the closest Verizon cell tower near you or AT&T tower location a mile or two away from your house helps tremendously when it comes to getting the best reception. The closer your phone is to the tower, the better the signal strength.
Here are some methods in locating the nearest cell tower:
Websites (Good, But It's Technical & Not User-Friendly)
LTE Discovery (Recommended): For Android
Network Cell Info (Highly Recommended): For Android
These are our recommended apps to help find cell tower locations and coverage quality.
OpenSignal features a compass that points in the direction of your carrier's cell tower and also has a cell tower map.
RootMetrics shows signal quality around your area; however, it does not have a cell phone tower map finder. Still there’s a heatmap around your location with real-world signal strength results from end-users.
Both LTE Discovery and Network Cell Info are powerful, in-depth, and user-friendly enough to show the best cell service in your area. They’re highly recommended apps used by most professionals.
While these apps don’t exactly show you how to boost network signal on Android or iPhone, they’re fairly accurate in determining the general location of your tower and providing information about the quality of signal strength in your area.
DIY: Use Your Own Phone (Best):
Your smartphone is a great tool to find your cell tower.
It all begins with cellular signal strength or dBm (decibel-milliwatts).
Cell phone signals are radio frequency waves measured in dBm (decibel-milliwatts). All cellular devices operate between -50 dBm to -120 dBm.
-50 dBm is considered strong signal (full bars). -120 dBm is considered weak signal (dead zone).
Any number in between represents the scale from good to poor coverage. The closer to - 50 dBm, the better the signal. The closer to -120 dBm, the worse the signal.
However, the number of bars on your phone are subjective to the phone manufacturer and carrier. Repeat: subjective.
There's no industry standard and practice to match dBm values to the number of bars.
What could be 1 bar on an Apple iPhone for Verizon could be 2 bars on a Samsung Galaxy for AT&T or 3 bars on a Google Pixel for T-Mobile DESPITE performing at the exact same speeds!
This might explain why you sometimes have 2-3 bars and can’t keep a connection, while other times you have 1 bar and have blazingly fast speeds and service.
That’s why you can't trust the number of bars on your phone too much, because the number of bars is subjective across all devices and carriers. dBm readings are not subjective. Just plain math and truth.
- Find dBm readlings on your phone.
- Walk around your house inside and outside.
- The number closest to -50dBm is where you get your best signal.
Now that you know about dBm, how do you find dBm reading on your smartphone? It’s called field test mode, and it’s a native function on your phone.
How to Access Your dBm Signal (Field Test Mode):
Starting with iOS 11 and 12, Apple has hidden dBm readings in iPhone field test mode. However, depending on your iPhone chipset (Intel or Qualcomm) and your carrier (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, or Sprint), there’s a slim chance to find your dBm readings through this workaround.
AT&T or T-Mobile iPhone with Intel chipset (iOS 11 & 12)
- Dial *3001#12345#*
- Tap LTE.
- Tap Serving Cell Meas.
- Your dBm is read as rsrp0.
Verizon or Sprint iPhone with Qualcomm chipset (iOS 11 & 12)
- Dial *3001#12345#*
- Tap 1xEV-DO.
- Your dBm is read as RX AGC0.
For any iPhone pre-iOS 11
- Dial *3001#12345#*
- Swipe down notifications bar.
- Your dBm is in the upper left-hand corner of the screen.
If you’re unable to find any of these options during your field test mode process, you most likely have an incompatible carrier and chipset. The next best method is performing a speed test around areas inside and outside your home. But once we crack the code on dBm readings on your iPhone, we’ll update as soon as possible.
Field test mode on Android varies by phone model and Android OS version. However, it is generally found under the Settings menu.
- Tap Settings
- Tap About Phone
- Tap Status or Network
- Tap SIM Status
- Your dBm is under Signal strength
Once you have your dBm reading through field test mode or app, walk around inside and outside the perimeter of your home. Make note which areas get the best dBm reading. This shows you the general direction of your cell tower and which rooms inside your home have the best reception.
06. Minimize Interference
The great thing about cellular or radio frequency waves? They can reach miles in the distance to deliver calls, texts, emails, and internet you need.
The flip side?
Almost anything between your phone and the cell site can disrupt your signal. When there’s a clear line of sight, everything works and you get what you’re paying for.
For people in rural areas, there're mountains, valleys, and tall trees. For people in urban areas, there’re tall buildings, RF interference, and crowded networks.
In short, by the time incoming 4G, 4G LTE, and 3G signal hits your phone, it’s been greatly reduced in performance.
Here are the 6 main causes of poor cellular signal:
We’re well aware of the physical distance, but did you know there’s another type of distance?
Cell towers have the ability to transmit signal for tens of miles, which is necessary in the countryside. However, in the city, cell tower transmission power covers much less ground, because it doesn’t want to interfere with other carrier towers and networks.
While there’s a physical distance problem in rural areas, there’s a broadcasting distance problem in urban and suburban areas. These areas are simply more crowded with what's known as "signal noise."
Literally anything under the sun can absorb or disrupt cell signals: trees, hills, mountains, valleys, dense foliage (especially pine cones), swamps, and any large or tall object.
Building material and the layout of your house is the leading cause of poor indoor cell phone signal coverage.
The biggest culprit is metal. Anything metal–roof, wall, studs, lining, etc.–will tackle your incoming cell phone signal. Other disruptors are low-e (energy-efficient) glass, concrete, wood, and other signal-blocking material.
Open floor plans generally have better signal than multi-room layouts. Thick walls are a major impediment.
Electronics can create radio frequency (RF) interference. Anything metal (again!) or magnetic can affect cell phone signal.
Moisture can affect your signal. Rain, snow, thunderstorms, and fog are fair game. Even solar flares have some effect. It feels as if windy days can blow signal to or away from you.
The only real solution? Reduce the level of interference between your cell phone and the tower:
- Move outside.
- Get near a window or crack it open.
- Get higher. Usually the second floor of the home gets better signal.
- Reduce interior clutter, especially metal & solid objects.
- Do some yard work, trim any tall trees & bushes. These can really affect signal strength.
All these tips should help get you better reception.
Just remember this, the fewer obstructions between your cell phone and the cell tower, the easier the two can keep communicating. Cellular signals are very fickle by nature. Sometimes, a slight move here or there can drastically change reception. Sometimes, the road to better signal can be as simple as ridding yourself of that overgrowth in your backyard.
07. Check Your Phone Settings
Your phone needs to do many things.
Multiple tabs and apps tend to build up, causing some lingering issues.
Some best practices:
- Toggle Airplane Mode off and on to reconnect to your nearest cell tower.
- Update to the latest firmware.
- Restart your phone.
- Make sure Cellular data is turned on under Settings.
- Check your SIM card for any damage.
08. Check Your Phone Battery
Connecting to a cell tower takes a constant supply of power, so if your battery is low, your phone might not have enough juice to find a signal. You've probably noticed slower speeds and an increase in dropped calls when your phone starts to die, which is why many smartphones have a battery-saving mode. The following best practices should help conserve battery power:
- Turn off hardware options like Bluetooth and NFC when not in use.
- Lower screen brightness.
- Close unnecessary & unused apps working in the background.
- Turn off push notifications.
- Keep phone away from extreme temperatures.
If you still find your cell phone lacking power before the end of the day, we'd recommend a portable battery charger. FYI, phones older than 2-3 years tend to have degraded batteries and components, so that might affect performance.
09. Don’t Block Your Cell Phone Antenna
Before the rise of smartphones, most mobile phones had external antennas (the 90s & early 00s). They were a crucial part of the device that gathered and sent signals to the cell tower.
However, on most smartphones today, the antenna is now designed to be tucked inside the phone.
Great for cosmetic reasons but difficult for increased reception, because those interior antennas still need to do the same job.
By holding your phone in landscape position (sideways), your hands may be effectively blocking your antenna from the cell tower. Although the newer smartphones have designs to combat this problem, a smartphone in a rugged case and gripped with both hands can occasionally give you the no-signal burp.
To avoid such antenna problems, try holding your phone in an upright position with your antenna free of a blockage. It should help increase the flow of signal. Better yet, go hands-free with a Bluetooth headset, and you’re bound to get better service.
Regarding your cell phone case– thick, rugged cases may prevent it from damage, but it can also prevent your cell phone antenna from capturing signal. Make sure that isn’t an issue.
10. Find Some Me Time
A cell phone tower can connect to a few hundred users. What happens when everyone tries to access that tower at the same time?
Tower congestion is a real pain at concerts, festivals, and crowded public events. Who isn’t trying to take a selfie and upload it to Facebook or Instagram these days?
With so many people on their smartphones and tablets, it's bound to overwhelm the cell tower or cell site. It all leads to the following problems:
- Dropped calls
- Poor call quality
- Slow internet
- Super slow uploads & downloads
- Stuck text messages
- Spotty service
Instead of competing for signal bandwidth and clogging up the network, finding a less populated area should help improve your situation. Of course, if you followed Step 5 above, you already know how to find the nearest cell towers.
11. Get a New Phone
If your smartphone is about 4-5 years old or newer, you can skip this part. But for those still hanging onto your Blackberry, Windows Phone, Palm, flip phones, brick phones, etc.– it’s time to make the jump.
Phones get old. They don’t perform how they used to. And technology is changing, meaning newer phones support newer technology that may have that reliable coverage and fast internet you need. Change is hard–heck, I still listen to the Eagles, Michael Jackson, and Oasis every day to work– but it’s inevitable.
12. Change Network Providers.
Well, you’ve done everything you could, but still no progress.
No one likes the inconvenience of change or burning bridges, but you've got no other option.
If your phone is fully paid for or past its two-year contract, it may be time to jump ship and find a carrier better suited to fulfill your mobile needs.
Most carriers are eager to get customers to switch, so you might be able to get a new or highly discounted smartphone or bill.
For example: T-Mobile will pay up to $650 for you to switch your contract. Ditto for Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint. Even US Cellular provides deals to switch. If a cheap and simple cellular plan is the goal, Google Fi uses a mixture of carrier networks and secure WiFi hotspots to deliver service.
It's worth keeping one eye open for carrier deals and promos. They're everywhere.
We recommend using the Open Signal app to research carrier heatmap services for your location. Search by ZIP code and compare network rankings in your area.
With that information along with understanding cell tower location, it should give you much better ability to assess the quality of your carrier's and competition's services.
There are a lot of variables to consider.
Verizon does have more 4G coverage nationally, but if you live near an AT&T cell tower, then you might get better results with AT&T. Perhaps talk and text is more important to you than internet data, so T-Mobile's or Sprint's plans might be more cost effective.
Take your time and do the right carrier research - you're off to a good start with this post.
13. Go Skyward.
Forget terrestrial-based internet. Look to the skies. Satellite internet providers like HughesNet, ViaSat (formerly Exede), DISH, and Earthlink provide internet in areas with slow or no high-speed options.
Prices can get steep (up to $150 monthly) plus installation costs around $99 to $150. Speeds are also slower compared to landline and cellular internet. When there’s no other option, it’s a godsend.
3. Who has the best cell phone coverage & service?
Historically speaking, Verizon has been the leading wireless provider followed by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint. With the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint, and T-Mobile’s improved performance, it looks to be a tighter race.
However, the most important thing is where you’re going to be using your phone most of the times and if there’s a carrier cell site nearest to you.
4. What is the best mobile phone for poor reception areas?
The Samsung Galaxy seems to be a good performer in weak signal areas with up to +6 dB gain compared to Apple iPhone, Google Pixel, OnePlus, LG, and Motorola. However, it’s important to note that if you’re in a dead zone, no phone, regardless of weak signal performance, will have service.
5. How can I make the antenna signal stronger?
Technically, you can’t make your antenna signal stronger. It’s an internal component within the phone.
Charlatan products like cell phone antenna cases, stickers, and apps claim to make a difference, but they won’t make a noticeable change. DIY hacks and homemade antennas may slightly help, but you risk damaging your phone.
While you can’t make your antenna signal stronger, you CAN make the incoming signal to your antenna STRONGER. Keep reading.
6. How do I improve mobile strength? Which method is best?
If you already have landline internet and have acceptable speeds–up to 10 Mbps download & 5 Mbps upload–using WiFi calling is the best method to get better internet, talk, text, emails, and video streaming.
If you don’t have landline internet and don’t have access to it, a cell phone signal booster is also a great device because it amplifies weak signal and then rebroadcasts the new signal into your home, office, or vehicle.
7. What is dBm?
dBm (decibel-milliwatts) is a unit of measurement to express the power, in this case, of cellular signals and radio frequency waves. All cellular devices operate between -50 dBm to -120 dBm. Closer to -50 dBm is good signal. Closer to -120 dBm is poor signal.
8. What is a good signal strength for a cell phone?
- -50 to -70 dBm is great signal.
- -71 to -85 dBm is good signal.
- -86 to -95 dBm is fair signal.
- -95 dBm to -110 dBm is poor signal.
- -111 to -120 dBm is near-dead signal.
- 95 dBm is generally considered the limit for working signal. Anything worse and you'll have spotty service.
9. How will 5G affect my cell phone service?
It won’t for awhile. While 5G will launch in 2020 (the real 5G), 4G LTE will be around and is still being built out in North America and will last until at least 2030-2035. 4G LTE is the backbone of America’s mobile network.
5G isn’t expected to reach mainstream nationwide until 2030.
10. Who are you and how can you help me?
Wilson Amplifiers is a leading provider of cell phone signal boosters, devices that amplify 4G & 3G LTE for any phone with any carrier for home, office, or car. We’ve boosted over 10,000,000 sq ft of signal for homes, buildings, and vehicles across America and Canada.
- Free consultation (ask us anything) with our US-based customer support. Email: (firstname.lastname@example.org). Phone: 1-800-568-2723.
- Free shipping. Usually ships same day.
- 90-day (seriously) money back guarantee. You want to make sure you're satisfied.
Our goal is simple: keep people connected. Ask us anything and we'll be glad to help.