What is Cell Phone Signal Strength?

Smartphones today are much more than just convenient communication devices. They have actually become a part of our lifestyle. A phone’s signal strength has become an important measurement as well, as it plays a crucial role in how effectively our devices serve us.

What is cell phone strength anyway and how is it determined? Before we tackle this topic, let’s take a moment to understand how cell phones actually work in the first place.

How Do Cell Phones Work?

Simply put, a smartphone is essentially nothing more than a two-way radio that has the dual capability of sending and receiving signals. As you talk on the phone, the device transforms your voice into an electrical signal and sends it in the form of radio waves to the closest cell tower. Through the network of local towers, your signal is transmitted to the other person’s phone, which turns it back into the sound of a human voice. When you boil it down, it is hard to imagine that your $1000 smart phone is basically a walkie-talkie.

What Do Signal Bars Mean?

The bars on your phone are actually just visual representations of the device’s signal strength and often manufacturers will set them differently from each other. Because of this, it is more accurate to speak about signal strength from a cell tower in terms of decibels (dBm), instead of how many bars you see. Decibels are normally expressed in terms of a negative number, such as -80 dBm.

What is Good Cell Phone Tower Signal Strength?

The closer the negative number is to zero, the stronger the cell phone signal will be. Typically, a dBm reading of -50 is the most powerful signal you will get on a personal smartphone. Most people are shocked to find out that in the end, the number of bars that you see on the screen does not mean much. If you really want to know the strength of your smartphone’s signal, find out how many decibels the nearest cell tower is sending it. 

How Can You Boost Cell Signal Strength for Free?

It is common for smartphone users to feel that their signal is not as strong as it should be.

Here are some great tips on how to boost your phone’s signal strength for free.

Turn Off LTE Settings
If you see only one bar of LTE showing on your phone, it is most likely because the tower you are connected to is congested or has a heavy load on it. By disabling your LTE setting, your phone will grab the closest 3G or 4G signal, which ironically will produce a stronger signal during busy times.

Check For Damage
Most of the time we do not realize that our modern smartphones have an internal antenna attached to them, in order to grab signals from the tower. If the antenna is damaged from a phone being dropped, it can have a significant affect on the quality of signal strength it receives. Your cellular dealer can usually run some diagnostic tests to determine if your phone is receiving signals properly.

Time for a New Phone
If your smartphone cannot support the latest network (LTE), it could be time to invest in a new device. A phone that can only pick up a 3G or 4G network, will not be as powerful as one that is LTE (Long Term Evolution) compatible. If you want the strongest signal available, your phone needs to be on a LTE network connection. You can also check to see if your battery is working as intended. You can check out our article about battery replacement to learn more on this topic!

Use WiFi to Make Phone Calls
If your phone signal strength is poor, but the WiFi signal is good, see if your device supports WiFi calling. Instead of placing calls over the cellular network, you can utilize the WiFi, which will provide a much stronger signal. This is a very quick way to boost signal strength, at least temporarily.

Interested in learning more about overcharging your phone or what fast charging is? Check out our blog today!
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