Which Type of Smartphone Gets the Best Reception?

Which Type of Smartphone Gets the Best Reception?

Written by Alex Baker
21st Jun 2021

Is it True that Android Phones get Better Reception than iPhones?

We’ve taken our fair share of deep dives into what makes cell phone reception go bad, how you can improve your signal, and which carrier has the best coverage in your area. But what about your smartphone itself? Do different brands get different signals? And which type of smartphone gets the best reception?

The answer is surprising, but perhaps to be taken with a grain of salt. According to PCMag, Samsung Galaxy phones continue to win in speed tests against iPhones. Can it be true? Do Android phones get better reception than iPhones? Depending on your exact device and signal strength, yes, Android phones have faster cell speeds than iPhone.

The study mentioned above concludes that the LG V40 is the best performer overall, and that Qualcomm phones maintain their fastest speeds longer and manage to work faster than Intel-powered iPhones in very low-signal conditions.

Due to Qualcomm’s LTE-Advanced technology, and Apple’s hesitancy to roll out new technology the second it becomes available, Android phones are continually pulling ahead in the reception race. So, does this mean it’s time to toss out our iPhones and worship at the shrine of Android reception? Well, that depends on how much speed you really need.

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Should I Switch to an Android Phone?

For most smartphone users with a decent signal, the discrepancy in speed is not terribly noticeable. If you’re a heavy gamer with dreams of VR, then yes, it might be in your best interest to look into the Android game. But for casual phone owners looking to talk, text, stream a little, and check in to social media here and there, it’s still fine to choose your phone based on a variety of factors.

And nine times out of ten, if you’re experiencing sluggish service, it’s probably not your phone that’s to blame—unless, of course, you’re still clinging to a model that’s more than five years old. Newer phones are equipped with the latest and greatest technology, so go for the upgrade if you need more speed.

Is My Phone Slowing Down My Cell Service?

First things first, you need to rule out the signal-busting factors that might be interfering with your signal. If it’s not natural phenomena, building materials, or congestion, you may just be too far away from your nearest tower. You can locate your nearest cell tower using our handy guide. And, like we mentioned above, if your signal is weak (try measuring using decibels instead of bars), Android reception does tend to hang on a little longer.

No matter how powerful your Android phone or iPhone may be, if the signal strength isn’t there to begin with, your speed won’t matter.

Should I Switch to a Different Cell Phone Service Provider?

Carrier coverage varies across the country, so it’s smart to do a little research using coverage maps before you place all the blame on your iPhone or Android. You can have the fastest phone on the planet, but without a strong signal, your lightning-fast devices can’t reach their top speeds.

What Else About My Smartphone Affects Cell Signal?

Quite a bit, actually.

Phone Model

How old is your phone? Older phones tend to have weaker reception than newer phones. As technology standards for cellular networks improve (3G, 4G, 4G LTE, and 5G), so do cell phones. If you have a 3G phone, and you are using it under the 4G LTE or 5G network, your phone will not be able to effectively tap into those networks because it doesn’t have the technology to do so, hence the poor reception. Since many carriers are phasing out 3G, you might not get any reception at all.

So, which smartphone would give you the best cell signal? Technically, newer phones will provide you with the best signal reception – whether they are from Samsung, Apple, Google, or LG. They have the technology required to tap into the faster and best networks.

Antennas

The antenna is crucial to your phone’s hardware; if the phone manufacture incorporates a poor-quality antenna, you will experience poor cell reception.

Many years ago, in the 1980s, cell phones had long exterior antennas to help them capture the best cell phone signal possible. As the years went on, the antennas started getting smaller and smaller. Now, you can’t even see them, smartphones have small internal antennas. The evolution of cell phone antennas has helped phones shrink to pocket size and have an aesthetically pleasing design. Sometimes manufacturers sacrifice a good quality antenna for a better design.

With the antennas being a lot smaller and internal, they are more susceptible to external interference; especially if the antenna wasn’t optimally placed in the cell phone's chassis.

The iPhone 4 antenna issue is the most widely known case regarding poor signal caused by the design and placement of the antenna. This issue caused many users to experience a weak signal when the phone was held in a specific way.

If antennas are so important, then which phone manufacturer has the best antenna? There aren’t many phone antennas manufacturers, the main ones are Qualcomm and Intel. PcMag conducted a test to compare the iPhone Xs and the iPhone X, which use Intel antennas. During the test, they also used a Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and a Google Pixel 2, which use Qualcomm antennas, to see which phone would perform better. The performance of the devices that used Qualcomm were slightly better than those who used Intel.

Another interesting study was conducted by Smartphones Revealed. It was inspired by Professor Gert Frølund from Aalborg University who proved that there is a link between mobile radiation (SAR-value) from cell phones and antenna quality; the higher the mobile radiation, the lower the quality of the antenna. The Smartphones Revealed study tested over a hundred phones (android and ios) and it's easy to comprehend - the higher the score means the better the antenna. The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra scored a 95/100, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max scored an 81/100.

Phone Software/Firmware

It's always recommended to make sure your operating system is up to date. More often than not, the purpose of software updates is to improve performance, patch security gaps, remove bugs, and sometimes they bring in new features. Unfortunately, when updating the software, you run the risk of the new version being worse than the old one and impacting your cell phone reception.

Cell phones communicate with cell towers trough frequency bands. Your phone's hardware helps you connect to those frequencies, but the software guides the hardware and how it performs. If the new updates boost that line of communication between the phone and the cell towers, then you will experience better reception. On the other hand, if the update prioritizes other features, like improved battery life, at the cost of your signal quality, your reception will suffer.

Unlocked vs Locked Mobile Phones

Unlocked phones are devices that are not tied to a specific carrier. Locked phones have a specific software code that prevents you from using them under a different network. Locked phones are specifically configured to work perfectly under their specific carrier's networks. You will be able to take advantage of their features like WiFi calling, HD voice, data speeds, and have a strong signal. Unlocked phones are not configured to a specific network, meaning that they are not guaranteed good signal nor fast data speeds.

The easiest way to find out if your phone is unlocked is to insert a different carrier sim card into your phone. For example, if you have an AT&T phone, try a T-Mobile sim card. If it works then the phone is unlocked, if it doesn't work then the phone is not unlocked.

So How Do I Make the Most of My Cell Phone Signal?

Regardless of your device and carrier, a cell phone signal booster from Wilson Amplifiers can get you the speed you need, everywhere you go. Our industry-leading selection of signal boosters can capture the nearest cell phone signal, amplify it, then broadcast the newly boosted signal back to your 4G/LTE smartphones and devices.

Available for boats, buildings, and vehicles, there is a signal booster for every adventure. iPhone reception? Android reception? Signal boosters make it easy to stay connected—at top-of-the-line speeds.

Contact Us

Wilson Amplifiers is the leading provider of cell phone boosters, devices that amplify cellular signal for any phone with any carrier for home, office, or car. We’ve fixed cellular signal in thousands of homes, buildings, and vehicles across the United States and Canada.

  • Free consultation (ask us anything) with our US-based customer support. Email: (sales@wilsonamplifiers.com). Phone: 1-800-568-2723.
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Our goal is simple: keep people connected. Ask us anything and we'll be glad to help.

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About The Author of This Article
Alex Baker
Senior Copywriter - Wilson Amplifiers
Alex has been studying all things signal boosters for the past 5 years. His technical knowledge is matched only by his writing prowess. In his spare time, he enjoys long walks, stimulating conversation, collecting video games, and trying unusual recipes.