You're not alone. Spotty cell phone reception and limited cell signal are common problems in the digital age. According to a Pew Research Study on mobile phone problems, 72% of Americans drop calls and 77% of them experience extremely slow internet speeds on a weekly basis.
With the growing number of smart-enabled devices and slow development of cell phone towers, mobile internet bottlenecking is the new traffic jam of the 21st century. This is why we have developed a thorough list of free and paid options to help improve your cell phone reception and coverage. Have a look!
How to boost cell signal with free methods
- Find out which part of the house has the best reception
- Get away from obstructions and interference
- Avoid crowds & public events
- Keep your battery fully charged
- Use Wifi Calling on Android or iPhone
1. Find out which part of the house has the best reception
Do you know where your cell tower is located? If not, then you need to find out, because the area of your house closest to the cell tower gets the best signal.
The best way to find cell phone signal strength is to look at decibel (dB) reading. You see, the bars on your phone vary from one company to another. For example, what might be 3 bars on Sprint are 2 bars on Verizon, 1 bar on AT&T and full bars on T-mobile. Confusing yes?
There's no industry standard for bar readings. However, cell phone signals are radio frequencies that work in a certain range: -50 dB to -110 dB. -50 dB is great signal, full bars. -110 dB is basically a dead zone.
While you could use a dedicated signal meter for super-accurate results, any iPhone or Android phone can show dB readings just fine. To see how strong your signal is, use the following instructions to see dB reading if you own an iPhone:
- 1. Go into Phone Mode
- 2. Dial and Call *3001#12345#*
- 3. You'll enter Field Test Mode
- 4. Drag down your notifications bar and you will see your dB reading in the left-hand corner.
Other instructions are to be followed if you are an Android user:
- 1.Access Settings
- 2.The General
- 3.Go to About Phone
- 4.Network or Status
- 5.You should see your dB Value
Walk around your house and look for the number closest to -50 dB. Once you do, you will have found the best area in your house for cell service.
2. Get Away from Obstructions and Interference
Now remember cell signals are basically radio waves, the AM/FM kind. They're great for covering long distances, but they're terrible at penetration. Almost everything can affect cell signals. Here's the complete list:
- 4.Any tall structure
- 1.Thick Building Material
- 5.Lots of clutter
All these can impede or block incoming cell signals. So the best tips are to get near a window or balcony and be elevated, since the second story of a home more likely gets a better signal than the first floor.
3. Avoid crowds & public events
Ever noticed your cell phone starts crawling even slower in public places, especially at venues and crowded events? That's because cell towers are only able to hold a certain number of connections simultaneously.
If you're at a baseball game or concert and everyone is taking photos and trying to upload to their Facebook or Instagram, it'll slow down the network dramatically and even worse, won't let you connect. The best solution is to get away from the crowd and find a less populated space meaning less competition for signal for your phone.
4. Keep your battery fully charged
This is a bit of surprise, but it's true, especially with today's smartphone. It's not just a phone, but an internet device, music player, calendar, book reader, game player, etc. With so many resources and just a limited battery, your cell phone needs to use more battery to not only make a call but also find a signal.
So it's best to keep your phone fully charged and at least above 10%. After that, your phone may go into conservation mode and affect its performance.
5. Use WiFi Calling on Android or iPhone
While apps like Skype and WhatsApp have been doing internet calling for some time, the four major carriers (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile) are slowly embracing WiFi calling. iPhone owners can go to settings, type “wifi calling” and the option will show up right away.
Instead of using your cellular signal, when connected to Wi-fi, your smartphone will use it instead to make and receive calls. For Android users, wifi calling is also available and can be found in settings, likewise.
T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T have joined the wifi calling game with Verizon to officially join in 2016. So if you have landline internet, this is a function that should definitely be used.
How to boost cell signal with paid methods
- Femtocell & Microcell
- Cell Phone Signal Boosters & Repeaters
- Change Carriers
1. Femtocell & Microcell
A femtocell (also known as microcell) is like a mini cell tower in your home. They work by using your broadband landline internet and converting it into cell signals. While powerful and convenient, there are some drawbacks.
First, it's only carrier-specific, meaning an AT&T Femtocell will only work with AT&T phones and service. So in order to make your investment worth it, try to not switch carriers. And secondly, you need to have broadband internet. And if you do, expect slower internet since the femtocell now uses some of that bandwidth to make cell signals.
2. Cell Phone Signal Boosters & Repeaters
Cell phone signal boosters (also known as repeaters and extenders) are powerful devices that take an incoming weak signal, amplify it, and then rebroadcast the boosted signal to an area in need inside the house.
Solutions vary from cheap one-room boost to multi-story building coverage, although the most popular is a whole house booster like the weBoost Home MultiRoom. They work on all phones and all carriers. Cell amplifiers have gained in popularity the past few years as people without broadband internet depend on just their cell signal as their only means to connect to the internet.
As a key aspect, a strong broadband signal will enhance a strong cell phone signal, so you might want to consider acquiring a carrier that ensures a high-quality service. They're also pricey, but the reviews are very positive since they are seen as investments.
Our Best Signal Booster for Large Homes and Weak Signal Areas
Overview of the Cel-Fi GO X:
- Best for Large Homes and Offices
- Covers Up to 15,000 Sq. Ft.
- Up to +100dB Gain
- Best Single-Carrier Booster
- Customizable with incredibly powerful outdoor antennas
The Cel-Fi GO X Smart Signal Booster Kit is one of the best carrier-specific signal boosters. It’s great if you live or work in rural areas with an extremely weak signal. It will improve 4G, 4G LTE, and 3G signal for any single carrier – Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and US Cellular. The Cel-Fi Wave app allows you to switch between carriers whenever you need it. Also, through the app, you are able to monitor your signal strength, gain, and signal quality.
Since it’s focusing on a single carrier at a time, it can boost signal up to +100dB – making it +30 dB or up to 1000x more powerful compared to multi-carrier boosters. Under the best conditions, the Cel-Fi GO X Smart Signal Booster covers up to 15,000 square feet. The indoor cell coverage area can vary based on the strength of your available outdoor signal.
The Cel-Fi GO X is our absolute best option for extremely weak signal areas because of the outdoor antenna options we offer. The Long Ranger, by Bolton Technical, allows for an incredible maximum of +28 dB of gain to add to your kit, with a massive 15 miles of range. The Arrow, also by Bolton Technical, is no slouch either, with over 10 miles of range and an extra maximum of +15 dB of gain. If you can't improve your signal with a Cel-Fi GO X and Long Ranger combo, there is zero signal in your area.
Best Do-It-Yourself Cell Phone Signal Booster for Small Homes and Spot Coverage
Buy this Cell Phone Signal Booster If:
- You live in a small home or only need spot coverage, regardless of outside signal.
- You need a simple installation.
- You want a booster made for customization.
The SureCall Fusion4Home is the do-it-yourself signal booster kit we recommend most for small homes. The reason? Its antenna setup. This kit is designed to be customized. The repeater itself is powerful enough to cover a midsize home with the most effective antenna setup. It boosts all major North American carriers, so it will work on every band.
Our most affordable configuration is the omni/whip kit. It works well if you have powerful outside signal, and has a very easy installation. We do not recommend this if you have weak outside signal.
If you have weak signal outside, get the yagi/panel configuration. This can cover a midsize home with strong outside signal, as well.
In general, get a yagi outside antenna if you have weak outside signal, and an omnidirectional antenna if you have strong outdoor signal and want an easier install. The whip antennas are weaker than panel, but similarly have easier install, so which of these you get is up to you. We also offer a dome antenna configuration. Call us at 1-800-470-6777 if you’re unsure which configuration is best for you.
Best Professionally Installed Cell Phone Signal Booster for Homes
Buy this Cell Phone Signal Booster If:
- You want to have your booster professionally installed.
- You live in a large home with strong outdoor signal and want whole home coverage.
- You live in a midsize home with weak outdoor signal and want whole home coverage.
The weBoost Installed Home Complete is made to cover an entire home. It comes with free professional installation in virtually every zip code in the country. It can cover a large home with decent outside signal or a midsize home with weak outdoor signal. It can give up to 7,500 square feet of coverage with perfect outside signal. Most people will probably see a coverage area of between 3,500 and 5,500 square feet. If you want to cover more than one floor, you should buy more antennas. If you live in a very weak signal rural area you might get about 2,000 square feet of coverage from it.
The weBoost Installed Home Complete is the only cellular amplifier we have that comes with free installation right now. If you do not think you can install a signal booster, buy this one.
The installation is only available for residential buildings. For commercial buildings, check out the WilsonPro line.
3. Change Carriers
After you've done everything you could, it just may be time to switch carriers. With today's easily transferable phone numbers and competition paying for you to switch carriers, it just may be the right time to make the jump and possibly get a new phone in the process.
Now you’ve heard of different possibilities that can answer the question of how to boost cell signal. We advise you to not think of Antenna Boosting Stickers as another possibility, there haven't been solid studies that prove such belief. If you have further questions, our Signal Boosters support team is here to help with advice tailored to your needs.