In 2020 there is well over 90% of the USA population using cell phones. Though the coverage offered by various carriers is constantly improving, there are still areas, where people get poor reception. A poor signal can be caused by various reasons, the main ones include the distance from the signal tower, obstacles, such as mountains, hills, trees, and buildings, and constructions materials.
If you are located in an area that offers at least a single bar outside, then you will be able to use a cell phone booster to get better reception on the inside as well.
Aside from cell phone signal boosters, there are several other tricks that you may use to boost your signal. Some of those tricks are free, while others are paid options. And yes, as it normally goes, paid options obviously offer a better solution.
Herein we will do our best to provide you with all you need to know about how to boost cell phone signal, which should help you immensely if you are struggling with a poor signal.
However, do keep in mind that cell phone signal boosters and other cell phone signal boosting tricks only help in areas where there is at least some signal. You can’t boost ‘zero’ signal; remember basic math – anything multiplied with zero is still zero.
Are you ready to dig into today’s article and learn how to boost cell phone signal? Let’s do this.
How Does A Cell Phone Booster Work?
Before we get into all possible ways of how to boost cell phone signal, we believe that it is important for you to know some basics regarding the cell phone booster and how they work.
A standard cell phone booster consists of three main components – the outdoor antenna, the amplifier (normally indoor), and the indoor antenna. All three components are connected with coaxial cable.
The outdoor antenna picks up the weak signal (it is normally mounted on the outside wall or the roof). The signal is then transferred to the amplifier, which is the one that actually boosts the signal. The amplified signal is then transferred further via a coaxial cable to an indoor antenna, which ensures that the signal is distributed across a room or even several rooms.
How To Boost Cell Phone Signal Strength For Free
NOTE: As mentioned above, free signal boosting methods are worth trying if you are on a tight budget. However, they are rarely suitable for long-term solutions. With that in mind, let’s look at some of the simple things you can do to boost cell phone signals.
1. Go Outside
Like we told you, free solutions are not permanent, however, they are hacks that tend to work in many cases. The simplest thing you can do if you are not getting a signal inside is to go outside. You can use the balcony or a window to try and catch the signal. If you know in which direction the signal tower is, make sure to go on that side.
Since construction materials tend to be one of the three main signal blockers, this simple trick often works. However, we admit it is not very practical.
2. Try Removing Your Phone Case
Phone cases are great for phone protection, however, they can make a real difference when it comes to signal reception in the poor-signal area. Try removing your phone case and also make sure your hand is not blocking your phone’s internal antenna. This simple trick is definitely worth a shot.
3. Charge Your Phone
If your phone battery is below 10% this can prevent your phone to hold on to a weaker signal. Charging your phone might be a solid solution.
4. Locate the Nearest Signal Tower
If you are in a low-signal area, knowing the location of the nearest signal tower can make a huge difference. Sometimes simply moving toward a room closest to the tower, will give you that additional signal boost you need. To locate the nearest signal tower, you may use various apps or websites. Once you have determined the location of the tower, you can try getting a signal boost in the rooms closest to the tower. If that doesn’t work, use the windows or balconies on that side.
5. Move Around The Building
Keep in mind that the cell phone signal is not evenly distributed across the entire building. You can try moving around the area to locate a spot with a better signal. When doing so, make sure to wait about 20 seconds or more in the new spot to get your phone enough time to collect the new signal.
Bars indicating the signal are not such a great method when dealing with a weaker signal. It is better to be able to determine the strength of the signal in dB. -50 dB stands for great signal, while -120 dB tells you that there is basically no signal also known as a ‘dead zone’. As you walk around, look for the number closest to -50 dB.
To get a dB reading you can use a designated signal meter, however, you may also use your smartphone. Here are the instructions on how to get a dB reading on your smartphone:
- Access Settings > General
- Go to ‘About Phone’
- Select ‘Network or Status’
- You should see your dB Value
- Go into Phone Mode
- Dial and Call *3001#12345#*
- Enter ‘Field Test Mode’
- Drag down your notifications bar and you will see your dB reading in the left-hand corner.
6. Take a Higher Ground
Whether you are in a building or outside, taking a higher ground will improve your chances of detecting a stronger signal. The higher you move the fewer the obstacles on the way from the signal tower to you. That is why outdoor antennas are most commonly placed on the rooftops.
7. Use Wi-Fi Calling
Wi-Fi calling is a relatively new option, which is offered by quite many carriers. It enables you to use your Wi-Fi connection for your calls. This option requires you to have access to a stable Wi-Fi network and to use a cell phone provider that offers this option. If the VoLTE is available, you will see it as an option without any extra setting adjustments.
This option only works with newer smartphone models. So if you have an older smartphone, you won’t have that option.
Aside from VoLTE, you can use other communication apps if you have Wi-Fi access. Skype, Viber, WhatsApp are the most popular ones that may be used for voice calls with all others using those same apps.
8. Avoid Crowded Areas
You’ve probably been to a concert or a sports event before, right? Have you tried using your phone there? In crowded areas, all users try to connect to the nearest signal tower, which can make it very crowded and thus negatively affect the signal. This can lead to dropped calls, undelivered messages, and other nuisances. As such, make sure to avoid crowded areas in times you need to ensure that your cell phone signal is good.
9. Switching to 3G
You are probably aware that 3G towers will soon be put out of use, however, for now, they are still operational. And since the majority of users want to use LTE or 4G network since it offers greater speeds of data transfer, you may be completely satisfied with 3G for calls and texting. 3G is absolutely less crowded and will potentially offer you a better signal.
10. Remove Potential Signal Interference
There may be some metal objects in the room that could be interfering with the signal. Large mirrors may also be reflecting the signal away from. These are worth
11. Additional Tricks to Boost Your Signal
NOTE: These are very simple things you can do and often help with the signal.
- Toggle Airplane Mode – as you do that, your phone will reconnect to the signal tower, which will in some cases enable you to catch a better signal.
- Turn on the cellular data
- Make sure your time and date are accurate – go to settings and make the necessary adjustments
- Restart your phone – this will work similarly as the Airplane Mode toggle. Additionally, it will give your phone a sort of reset, which can sometimes help with the signal.
- Changing “Voice & Data” – simply switching from 4G to 3G or wise versa can improve your signal
- Update your phone – make sure you don’t have any pending carrier updates
- Remove and Reinsert Your SIM card – this trick can often work wonders
- Update you OS – whether, on iPhone or Android, you want to install updates regularly
- Reset the network settings – this is done within the settings menu.
How to Boost Cell Signal with Paid Methods
Above we have cover free options, which may work, however, are normally short-term fixes that are not very convenient. On the other hand, proper paid methods can offer a long-term solution. Herein, we will cover the best options for you to learn how to boost cell phone signal.
A femtocell (also goes by the name ‘microcell’) is basically a network extender. It connects to your home’s internet modem and essentially performs like a mini cell tower. It intercepts your signal (the signal from your phone) and routes it to your wireless carrier via the internet.
Of the main downsides for femtocells is the fact that they are carrier-specific. Which means that they only work for a single carrier. A femtocell costs around $250, which is less than a powerful cell phone signal booster, yet still a noticeable sum.
The good thing about the femtocells is that they can be offered to you for free in specific situations (you must meet the requirements). Talk to your wireless provided and ask about the femtocell option and if you are eligible to get one for free. A free femtocell is yours to use, but you have to return it when (if) you switch the carrier.
2. Signal Boosters
Signal boosters are the best solution for areas with poor signal. They enable you to amplify a weak signal and route it into any room you like. You can even use several indoor antennas to make distribution of the signal to all areas of a home or an office possible.
Signal boosters come in two main categories – building signal boosters and vehicle signal boosters. The names of the two categories are extremely self-explanatory so there is no need for further explanation. Both types of boosters work on the same principle and use the same three main components (outdoor antenna, amplifier, and indoor antenna).
We will devote an entire section (below) to help you choose the right cell signal booster. Depending on the type of a signal booster you choose, you can expect to pay anywhere from $200 up to $600 or more.
3. Switch to Another Carrier
As you most likely know, not all carriers offer the same coverage. There are leading wireless providers that offer the best coverage in general, these include Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint, however, there are some remote areas where some local provider will offer better coverage. As such make sure to consider areas of your day-to-day whereabouts. Choose the carrier that covers you in all of these places well.
If a carrier provides you with a signal that can be amplified, you can use the above option. However, if the carrier offers simply too weak of a signal, then you will need to consider switching to a different wireless provider.
How to Improve Weak Cell Phone Signal
If you have read the above portion of this article, then you know that you have quite several options and tricks that can help you improve the signal. You can try free methods presented in the ‘How to Boost Cell Signal for Free’ section for quick and short-term solutions. However, if you want to boost your cell phone signal permanently and set in place a solid long-term solution, you should absolutely consider installing a proper signal booster.
You can perform the installation yourself or request a professional service that will take care of the whole aspect of the ‘how to boost cell phone signal’ issue on your behalf. Of course, expect to pay extra if you plan on hiring professionals.
Aside from signal boosters, femtocells also offer a very solid solution. However, that option is only available to you if you have an internet provider, as you will need to connect a femtocell to a modem.
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
How To Choose The Right Cell Signal Booster ?
As we mentioned above, the cell phone signal booster varies in price noticeably, which must mean there are quite many different options available.
This section will help you determine which signal booster to choose. Below is basically a Signal Booster buyer’s guide so use it wisely.
Do You Need To Boost The Signal In Your Home, Office, or Your Vehicle ?
If you need a signal booster for your home or office, you will want to focus on building signal boosters. However, if you need to amplify the signal in your car, van, truck, boat, SUV, or camper, you will need to explore vehicle signal boosters.
Which Carrier Do You Use ?
Unlike femtocells, a signal booster is not necessarily fixed to a single carrier. The majority of the options on the market work with a wind range of carriers. However, it is important to double-check that the signal booster will work with your carrier or with the one you plan on switching to.
How Much Area You Want To Cover ?
As you can imagine, the stronger the amplifier, the larger area will be covered with your signal booster. Moreover, the larger area you want to cover, the more expensive the signal booster will be. Thus, make sure to determine the size of the area you want to cover (in the sq. ft.).
Some of the more advanced signal boosters can cover areas of up to 7,500 sq. ft. or even more, while the most basic ones, cover 1,500 sq. ft. So make sure to know whether your need to cover a single room or an entire floor or even several floors.
It the area is extremely large or if the internal walls are very thick, you will probably need several indoor antennas.
Does Your Phone Operate On 3G Or 4G ?
As you may know, phones made before 2015 all operated on 3G or 2G networks. 2G networks are mostly no longer operable, however, 3G ones still serve some clients. If you are on a tight budget and have a 3G-based phone, you may want to consider a 3G signal booster. However, since 3G will also very soon be put out of service, we highly recommend sticking to 4G signal boosters.
Which Type Of Outdoor Antenna Should I Choose ?
There are two types of outdoor antennas – Yagi directional and Omnidirectional (Omni) antennas. As the name suggests, Yagi antennas focus on a single direction and are better for areas where there is a single signal tower that you want to focus on and you have a very poor outdoor signal. On the other hand, Omni antennas enable you to simultaneously collect signals from multiple signal towers, which can be a great option if you have several towers surrounding you and they are all approximately similarly distant from your location.
Which Type Of Indoor Antenna To Choose ?
When it comes to indoor antennas, you will mainly need to consider the looks of it. You want to make sure it doesn’t ruin your interior design flow and that it matched your furniture at least somewhat.
There are also two main types of indoor antennas – panel antennas and dome antennas. Panel antennas are best for long, narrow spaces or for boosting through multiple floors, while dome antennas are best for serving a single floor.
Consider The Number Of Users
It is important to know the approximate number of user that will want to use the cell phone signal at the same time. This will determine the kind of signal booster you need. It is pretty obvious that you will have to pay more to get the one that will support a larger number of users at the same time.
You can get lucky and get a good experience with completely unknown brands, however, as a rule of thumb, sticking with reputable brands puts you on a safer side.
The most reputable signal booster brands include WeBoost (and Wilson Pro for commercial users), SureCall, HiBoost, and Nxtivity Cel-Fi.