How to Improve Your Cell Signal: Free and Paid Options
How do I improve my cell phone signal? With the rise of remote work and video conferences, it’s more important than ever to stabilize your mobile network. Nobody wants to be the frozen guy on the Zoom call thanks to slow data. Strong signal is simply a necessity, and the ability to make and receive phone calls and have consistent data speeds shouldn’t be a luxury, especially when you’re paying a large monthly fee for your cell service.
The list of culprits that lead to cell signal interference is long, but lucky for us, so is the list of ways to improve cell signal.
1 - Cell Signal Booster from Wilson Amplifiers
Of all the ways to improve cell signal, a cell signal booster (also called a repeater) is hands down the best option. Cell phone repeaters are available in a wide variety of models to fit your needs, and can be used in the home and office, as well cars, boats, RVs… you name it!
Regardless of your interference issues, a Wilson amplifier is able to amplify poor signal to cover any indoor space. They work by utilizing an outdoor antenna to capture existing signal, an amplifier (or repeater) to boost the signal, then an indoor antenna to broadcast that signal.
These are FCC-approved devices, and completely legal, designed in such a way to provide you with stronger signal without interfering with the mobile signal of your network. Signal is measured in decibels, and a signal booster kit will increase the decibel level which reaches your phone.
Also great is that these are one-time purchases with no monthly fees, are 5G ready and will last for years. And, since signal boosters boost signal from all carriers, they will work even if you decide to switch service providers.
How cell phone boosters help:
- Improve 4G, 4G LTE & 3G for any phone, tablet, etc. on any carrier, and are 5G ready
- Eliminate dead zones in urban and rural areas alike, inside buildings and while driving
- Use omnidirectional or directional antennas to capture existing cellular signal
- Amplifier boosts signal to AND from the cell tower
- One-time purchase with no monthly fees
- No internet or WiFi connection required
- Pre-approved by carriers and FCC
- weBoost premier consumer brand, WilsonPro premier commercial
Pros: The most reliable way to fix signal issues for most people
Cons: Can be costly, and won’t work with absolutely zero signal to boost
Overall Rating: 9/10
2 - Eliminate Obstructions
That instinct to go outside, open a window, or climb up to the roof to find a better signal makes perfect sense. Walls, trees, weather… if you can see it standing between you and your cell tower, chances are it’s interfering with your signal.
To improve your cell reception, it’s best to eliminate as many of these obstacles as possible. Though moving mountains isn’t your most realistic solution, the things you can control, like a closed window or a rogue branch could add to your list of ways to improve cell signal.
What’s blocking my signal?
- Building materials - metal, energy efficient glass, concrete, wood, etc. Nature - mountains, valleys, trees, hills, dense foliage, pine cones (yes, pine cones) Radio frequency (RF) interference - electronics, metal, magnets Other people - high traffic leads to network congestion Weather - storms, clouds, precipitation Cosmic Events - solar flares Distance - the further the cell phone tower, the weaker the signal
If you can work your way around any of these obstructions, your signal should improve. In many of these cases, relocation and/or removal aren’t an option, so a cellular booster can step in to solve the problem. Fortunately, signal boosters are powerful enough to penetrate the many obstacles that stand between your device and the cell signal you need.
Pros: Inexpensive, and any improvements made here will help any other method on this list.
Cons: Only a few things you can realistically do Overall Rating: 7/10
3 - Locate your nearest cell tower — then get as close as possible
The peace and quiet of the country provides a calming escape, far away from everyone and everything… including the cell phone signal required to stay connected. As mentioned in the list above, the further your signal has to travel, the weaker it gets. But if you can pinpoint the location of the nearest tower, it does give you the advantage of orienting yourself to get as close as possible.
Unfortunately, you can’t uproot your home with a batch of balloons and place it near your cell tower, and you have very little control over the location of the cell tower while driving. While it can be helpful in an emergency to know your cell phone tower location, the simple act of moving closer to the tower wastes precious time.
Pros: Free and repeatable
Cons: Does nothing to solve persistent cell issues Overall Rating: 3/10
4 - Use WiFi
If you have access to a WiFi connection through a broadband internet provider, then WiFi Calling is a great option when your cell signal is unreliable. All major carriers (like AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint) support WiFi calling on most smartphones, so if you’re working with an Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Google Pixel, LG phone, iPad, or other iOS & Android devices you should be covered. This may not necessarily work on older models of these phones, however.
Keep in mind, your signal strength relies on the strength of your WiFi connection, so if your WiFi network is choppy or slow, your WiFi Calling will be slow too. Finally, if multiple people are trying to use your WiFi, calls will be unreliable as well.
Pros: Honestly your best option with reliable WiFi but poor cell service that can’t be fixed with a signal booster
Cons: Requires strong WiFi to work, and slows down your WiFi network for others. Overall Rating: 8/10
5 - Keep your battery charged
It takes a lot of battery power to search for a faraway signal, and then work overtime to hang on to that fleeting reception. A low battery has a surprising effect on the quality of your cell reception. Do your best to keep that battery charged, because weak signals not only drain your battery, but resorting to low power mode will make it harder to keep your signal engaged.
A few easy tips for conserving battery life:
- Turn off hardware like Bluetooth & NFC when not in use
- Lower screen brightness
- Close background apps
- Turn off push notifications
- Avoid extreme temperatures
Pros: As simple as plugging in your phone
Cons: Really only works in very specific circumstances, and won’t actually affect weak signal areas Overall Rating: 4/10
6 - Femtocell
A femtocell (or microcell/network extender) is a piece of equipment that converts broadband landline internet into a cellular signal (and vice versa). Think of it as your own little cell tower.
Each service provider has their own branded spin on the femtocell. Keep in mind, some carriers have begun phasing out their femtocell programs.
The average femtocell costs between $100 and $300, along with a monthly subscription fee to add on top of your existing internet bill. Also, to work properly, you'll need a minimum speed of up to 10 Mbps download and 5 MB Mbps on your landline internet.
While the device itself is a little cheaper than a cell signal repeater, the service fees can add up over time. If you’re looking for a temporary fix, then a femtocell could help, but a cell signal booster is still your best option for strong, long-term coverage.
Pros: Will absolutely boost your signal where it is placed
Cons: Short range, monthly cost, locked to your carrier and slows down your internet
Overall Rating: 7/10
7 - Don’t block your antenna
Unlike older mobile phone models that propped their external antennas on top for all to see, today’s smartphones keep their antennas hidden securely inside. Streamlined and compact? Yes, but it’s still possible to interfere with your cell signal by covering up the internal antenna.
Heavy duty phone cases, orientation, and your own hands can get in the way if you’re not careful. Most smartphones work best when held with one hand — or, even better, hands-free — in an upright position. Experiment with your phone case and positioning to make sure that the interference isn’t coming from an unintentional antenna blockage.
Pros: A simple habit change that can make a big difference
Cons: Has absolutely no effect on dead zones or weak signal areas
Overall Rating: 4/10
8) Troubleshoot your phone
Unexpected service interruptions are a hassle, but it helps to know if it’s your phone that’s struggling to connect or the signal itself.
First things first, try a restart. While you’re powered down, check your SIM card for damage. If it looks good, give it a quick wipe with a dry cloth, reinsert, and turn your phone back on.
Next, check for updates. Bugs happen, and staying on top of updates gives you the best chance to keep them in check.
Toggling Airplane Mode on and off can also give your phone the chance to stop and reassess, ensuring that you’re connected to the nearest cell tower.
Don’t forget to make sure that Cellular Data is turned ON under Settings.
If you’ve exhausted your troubleshooting options, and are still experiencing issues, then it might be time to move on to option #9.
Pros: Free, can extend the lifespan of your phone, and may actually solve some signal issues
Cons: Will do nothing to help if you frequently deal with dead zones or spotty signal in general
Overall Rating: 6/10
9) Invest in a new phone
It’s not the news you were hoping for, but if you’ve been using the same phone for more than 4-5 years, there’s a good chance that it’s just not operating at peak performance anymore. Cell phone technology progresses quickly, with updates and new features rolling out at break-neck speeds. If you’re experiencing slow speeds and dropped calls on your elderly phone, it might be time to consider taking advantage of any available upgrades.
Either a new iPhone or Android phone can help you get better data speeds almost certainly, if your current phone is old and giving you trouble.
Pros: New phones are cool and will use latest cellular technology
Cons: Expensive, and will do absolutely nothing to help if you frequently deal with dead zones
Overall Rating: 5/10
10) Consider a Mobile Hotspot
Like your WiFi router, a mobile hotspot (or 4G router, mobile WiFi router, LTE modem, etc.) can provide an internet connection by broadcasting a cellular signal — but instead of using a broadband landline connection like WiFi, it connects to 4G data networks.
Because mobile hotspots rely on the same cellular network as your phone, they won’t actually strengthen your signal unless you choose a model with a powerful external antenna.
Mobile hotspots are a great option for people who need to stay connected on the go, and they can actually work wonders with a proper signal booster.
Pros: Creates a parallel network and can provide reliable data with strong cellular service.
Cons: Requires strong signal - which, odds are if you’re reading this article, you don’t have.
Overall Rating: 4/10
11) Change network provider
First things first, check with your existing provider to make sure that your sudden signal crash isn’t the result of a downed tower or maintenance. And once they know that you're having connectivity issues, they should be able to help you troubleshoot. Then your solution is a little time and patience.
But if your cell service carrier hasn’t earned your undying devotion, then why not shop around? Even though Verizon has been proven to have the best coverage overall, that doesn’t mean that your nearest tower can’t be owned by AT&T, T-Mobile, or Sprint.
Check out the carrier heatmap for your location using the Open Signal app. Search by ZIP code to compare network rankings in your area. A little research can help you make an informed decision.
Network providers are chomping at the bit to get you on-board, so take advantage of the many perks of switching up your service.
Pros: Can put you in the position to improve your service plan, both in terms of price and coverage
Cons: A hassle, and may do nothing to help if you live in a rural or remote area or busy urban area with tons of signal noise
Overall Rating: 5/10
12) Consider satellite internet
If you’ve gone off-the-grid, satellite internet providers like HughesNet, ViaSat (formerly Exede), DISH, and Earthlink can pull a connection from space. If your location is truly remote, satellite internet could be your only option — though the high cost and slower service make it more of a last resort. This is truly the only option for internet with no cell service, and you might even consider a satellite phone for calls.
Pros: Will work when nothing else will. If you live completely off-grid, your best option.
Cons: Extremely expensive, slow, and unreliable. Should be a last resort. Overall Rating: 6/10
How can you help me improve my cell phone signal?
Of all the ways to improve cell signal, there are very few situations that can’t be vastly improved by Wilson Amplifiers. As the leading provider of cellular repeaters, our wide selection amplifies cell signal for any phone on any carrier for your home, office, or vehicle.
Get connected and stay that way:
- Free consultation with our US-based customer support (firstname.lastname@example.org), call us at 1-800-568-2723, or chat with one of our signal experts live here
- Free shipping
- Better signal or your money back in 90 days
- We want everyone to be satisfied, so we provide lifetime technical support and a 2-year warranty for all products.
Ask us anything. We’re here to help.
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