Your smartphone is an amazing tool that is effectively a communications device and a computer. All in something that can fit in the palm of your hand. Yet it is limited by the infrastructure surrounding it and its reception. If your phone can’t get a good signal, it isn’t good for nearly as much. It’s a glorified PDA, and those are much less expensive.
And while you might not notice a poor signal all the time, your phone certainly will. A poor signal means your phone has to try harder to keep up with normal demands, draining its power that much faster. Have you ever wondered why at times it seemed as though your phone ran out of battery in a couple of hours, and you weren’t even using the screen? You have a likely culprit. Similarly, a poor signal can mean a call or text doesn’t even reach you until much later, perhaps after its relevance. We want you to avoid this, and therefore we hope you consider some of these tips on removing obstacles and improving the signal.
Note that in the article here we will be talking about calling and texting signals, but also data plan signals where we can as well. It’s clear that in today’s world they can be just as important, and a problem with it is still a major problem with your phone.
Here are some of the reasons that you might be having problems with your cell phone signal and some solutions you can try out:
Some locations are better than others when it comes to your cell phone signal. An open area is likely to do better. Outdoors is better than indoors in nearly all cases, and the more open the outdoor area, the better. The best location would be relatively close to a cell phone tower in nice weather in an open field, but we also understand that this may not be convenient for most people. We recommend just doing the best you can for those important calls, and try to also pick a place where you won’t be disturbed (or disturb others by your call).
Also, the higher you are, the better. Signals are stronger higher up, and you can get out of the way of obstructions. For this reason, making calls in the basement might not be the best idea. Making an important call from the top floor of an average building is your best bet. Living on a hill might also be an advantage.
We aren’t saying that you should move for the sake of your smartphone, but it can be helpful to note any places in your home or immediate area that have poor reception so that you don’t make calls there or can know ahead of time that you might have problems. If you can also narrow down the problem to a small area, that can be helpful. Whether you just need to avoid the space or investigate whether you can remove or mitigate the problem, progress can be made.
Your phone might also not be connecting to the network in the area properly at the moment. This can be for a variety of reasons, but turning your phone off and on again will force it to reconnect. Alternatively, you can just turn airplane mode on your phone on and off again to force your phone to reconnect. If this fixes the issue, then the off signal was likely a fluke. You may want to do this if you just traveled a great deal and you aren’t sure your phone kept up (though by design it should).
Finally, taking notes on your own can provide a huge benefit. Are there places in your house that simply aren’t good for reception? Are there places that are especially good for call quality? Note them and study them if you can, seeing if there’s anything special about it. It might help you track down interference or something blocking the signal. At the very least it can give you a spot to make those important calls. While the above tips on location can be helpful, there are many factors that interact with each other. Only you can know the absolute best spots in your home or immediate area.
There are plenty of things that can interfere with a cell phone, mostly other signals. Some of the major culprits include:
Sometimes a cell phone signal or data plan suffers because it is congested. Much like a traffic jam, nothing gets anywhere and everyone gets frustrated in the process. If you think this is the case with your data plan, then you might benefit by switching back to a 3G network. The speeds will not be as great, but they will be more consistent, and for basic browsing, it is all you need. You should try to do a test sometime if you are concerned, to see if there is an improvement or if you get fewer abandoned downloads or unloaded pages.
Of course, this might not always work and sometimes there might be something wrong with the 3G signal as well, related to or separate from the problem at hand. Yet it’s a quick check and one that can answer any questions.
We aren’t talking about the roads here, though if everyone is on their phones on the road (hands-free, of course), then we suppose it could apply. As alluded to, cell phone infrastructure has a limit, though it is rarely reached. And if you are working with a major carrier, chances are you have priority over people on a cheaper plan (you get what you pay for). Nonetheless, there are those times when it seems like everyone is making a call or texting at once. And while texting uses much less bandwidth, it does contribute, though it will still likely go through. Think back to instructions in disaster areas or emergency situations where authorities encourage people to text rather than a call to confirm people are ok.
If you are having trouble with your reception or call quality and you think it might be due to this, unfortunately, there is little to do outside of waiting it out. If the problem persists over a long time, then it might be a problem with the infrastructure and you should look into it further. If you don’t have faith that the issue will get resolved, then it might be time to take further action, call some support lines, or even change your provider. Don’t pay for a service that isn’t actually working for an extended period of time, no matter the reason.
Then there are those rare circumstances where a phone might just be getting too old to work as well as you would like it. While support for phones can go on for a while, it doesn’t last forever. The old tech doesn’t get as much attention, optimization is lacking, and there could be an issue with your receiver just due to age. The average life of a smartphone is somewhere between two to three years, though they’re likely fine for a bit longer. After a certain point, no one expects it to be around. For example, if your phone does not support 4G, it does not matter how good the 4G signal is or is not in your area. And while
There are other solutions that could be as simple as performing a software update on your phone. While this will not change much if the hardware is old or there is physical damage, it can optimize what you do get, making the call quality acceptable.
If you know you need to upgrade your phone, we encourage you to follow a guide to do so or shop around. Phones aren’t just about the signal and reception anymore, after all, and there will not be a problem with any modern phone when it comes to calling quality, at least where the hardware is concerned. There is much reading to be done, but don’t bother unless you’re ready to upgrade in the next week or two.
Note that you probably have an option of getting a discounted phone through your provider if you renew your contract. If you’re happy with your service provider, this can be a great way to save some money and/or spread out the cost over a payment plan.
Another way of upgrading is to switch providers. You might have moved since you first got your phone and contract, and the service in your new area is just not as good. Alternatively, service quality can change over time. Standards change, and service doesn’t always change with it. While each of the major providers covers most of the population, you can check the coverage maps for a provider to see if you’re in an uncovered or poorly covered region.
You deserve service and a device you can rely on, and if you need to switch providers for it, then so be it. It is often easier than you might think, and you might be able to get your contract bought out or get some great perks upon signup. This very site has plenty of resources to help you if you want to use them. See what might work for you and know that you don’t have to commit if you’re just looking. Your current provider isn’t looking.
You don’t need to have a booster on you to benefit from it. You can just have one in or around your home and you should get a boost. In fact, most boosters consist of an antenna inside the home, one outside the home, and the booster itself. These components are connected by a coaxial cable, and depending on the setup there may be additional components and splitters as well (usually for much larger homes) While the effect might vary depending on several factors, you should see an improvement if the signal quality is the issue. However, boosters can be expensive, with the best models nearing $1000. This is a significant investment for most people, and we understand if you want to try other methods and solutions first.
There are devices and antennas that you can install either inside or near your home that will help as well. There are variations, of course, and they can be expensive as well, but it might be your best bet to get a consistent boost. Also, they are generally a one-time purchase, and you can use them with multiple phones if you get the right model.
You can learn more about this here, and do note that the results may vary. While it may technically be an exact science, it is one that’s hard to nail down, and that leads to potential confusion and a lot of misinformation about what does and does not work to improve reception. Read up on the topic some more, do your research on the products, and don’t be afraid to make a return (if possible) if it isn’t working out for you.
One unique booster of sorts, though it works quite differently, is the Verizon Network Extender. This device, categorized as a femtocell, will create a cell signal in your phone and route all of your calls in range through it, putting them through your internet connection. It can be a great alternative if your signal isn’t as reliable as you’d like, though you are relying on the stability of your internet connection for your call.
Note that only people who have Verizon Wireless can use it. It is also pricey, costing about $250 as of this writing. It can support a lot of users and improve LTE coverage though, without a monthly fee or maintenance costs. It might be worth it for some households.
And while Verizon’s version might be the most popular and most well-known, other carriers have their own versions. AT&T has the Microcell, and there is the Sprint Airwave and the T-mobile Personal CellSpot. They’re certainly not for everyone, but they might be worth a look.
Many people might not pay attention to WiFi calling outside of frequent travelers because service is generally so good it is not needed and calling and texting is unlimited anyway. Yet more people have been using it when they don’t think they can trust their signal, or they just think they get better call quality from it. It doesn’t solve the problem, but it does provide a workaround.
The exact method might change depending on your phone and provider, but all you usually have to do is be on a solid WiFi connection, hit the WiFi calling button on your phone menu (it should be easy to find), and set up the options if you are doing it for the first time.
Also note that even if WiFi calling isn’t there by default on your phone, there are apps that allow you to do it as well, and you likely have some on your phone already. Take a quick scan of the more popular messaging or communication apps like Facebook Messenger or Google Hangouts to see if you can use them for calls. They might not be as seamless as the default option, but they should work with a good connection.
For general usage, all you need is your cell phone or your smartphone at a base level. You shouldn’t need to plug anything in or carry around a small tower to get a good signal on your phone. However, there are peripherals and plugins that can help you get a better signal, as inconvenient as they might be. They’re a good thing to have in an emergency kit, or if you know you aren’t going into the best waters, reception-wise.
When getting a peripheral antenna or similar signal booster, you should look for improvements in reception, the durability of the device, and compatibility with your phone. This is also a thing where you should look carefully at the professional and consumer reviews; there are plenty of sub-par products on the market.
Naturally, you will have to weigh (in some cases literally) the peripherals against the inconvenience of having to carry them around. You might be fine having them in the office where you can plug them in and speak on a headset, but carrying around a spare antenna as you’re walking the sidewalks downtown can be a little silly, if not dangerous in some instances. You will want to find the proper balance here and also try to find options that you can use and carry around easily if that is your goal. A bit of investment here can go a long way.
As mentioned above, your phone uses charge to locate and pick up the signal, as well as transmit its own. And when a phone gets low on battery, it might change to settings that prioritize saving power over getting a good signal. And while this is wise in many cases (a poor signal is better than no signal from a dead phone), it can still be terribly inconvenient.
So when you’re traveling and not sure when you can plug in your phone next, make sure to reduce power consumption where possible. You can do this by lowering the screen brightness, turning off features such as Bluetooth unless you’re using them, and closing out background apps. There are also likely other settings on your phone you can use.
The idea that your phone might be broken in some way is not the first thing that you want to think about, but after trying all or at least some of the above, it might be a good idea to check for damage or other issues.
Some ways of checking are:
Getting good reception is hardly an exact science. The first thing you try can give you a perfect signal, while someone else can try everything and get no results. Nonetheless, the above methods are your best bet when it comes to improving reception, and we hope that you are able to get the most from your phone, your provider, and everything else. Keep trying, don’t give up, and try a new approach when you feel the need. You will solve this problem one way or another, and eventually get the signal you need and deserve.