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How to boost your mobile signal on your smartphone

There is nothing more frustrating than experiencing a bad signal on your cell phone. From dropped calls to messages not sending and streaming services that stutter and die, a lack of solid signal on your cell can cause all kinds of inconveniences.

Unfortunately, building towers to get more bars isn’t an option, but don’t worry. There are many things you can do to prevent poor cellular service from interfering with your day-to-day work. Check out our tips for making sure you’re getting the best signal possible, and some tips for boosting your cell signal.

Remove your case

Your phone case can interfere with your signal strength, especially if it is a rugged case or has metal in it. Try removing the cover to see if that helps improve reception or call quality.

Keep your battery charged

Low phone battery can affect your phone̵

7;s ability to receive a strong signal and can also affect its performance. Try to keep your battery above 25% as much as possible. Consider bringing a portable charger so you can keep your phone charged on the go.

Use Wi-Fi calling

Chances are you have a Wi-Fi network in your home or office, so why not use that to make and receive calls? Wi-Fi calling is now available everywhere, and it can be as easy as changing a setting on your phone. On an Apple iPhone, go to Settings> Phone> Wi-Fi Calling and make sure it is turned on. The setting can be placed in different places on different Android phones, so open up Settings and use the search function at the top to search Wi-Fi calling. You should also contact your carrier to find out about their Wi-Fi calling policy. Some providers expect you to pay extra money or jump through a few hoops to activate it.

If you can’t get Wi-Fi calling to work with your usual number and carrier, you can still use an app or service to make and receive Wi-Fi calls. Many of the best messaging apps also allow you to make calls over your Wi-Fi connection, although the person calling you will also need the same app.

Check your settings

iPhone 11 Pro settings
Corey Gaskin / Digital Trends

Make sure your network settings look correct. You need to make sure that you are connecting to the correct carrier and that voice and data are turned on. You may want to change and test your network preferences to see if it makes a difference.

On an iPhone, go to Settings> Mobile. On an Android it will be Settings> Network and Internet or maybe if you have a Samsung Settings> Connections> Mobile networks. If you don’t see any problems, it may be worth the effort to reset to see if that helps. On an iPhone it is Settings> General> Reset> Reset network settings, but keep in mind that this will also reset your Wi-Fi networks and passwords so you’ll need to reset them. On an Android phone, this varies from device to device; on a Pixel 4 it is Settings> System> Reset options> Reset Wi-Fi, cellular and Bluetooth but on a Samsung Galaxy S10 it is Settings> General Management> Reset> Reset Network Settings.

Change your carrier

Most carriers have a coverage map that shows what areas their network covers and what kind of connection you can expect. Do some research to find the best carrier in your area and consider switching to this carrier. We have a guide to help you switch providers with the minimum of hassle. You can also find coverage maps from many major providers worldwide at Open Signal.

Move to a better location

If you have poor reception in your home or office, but it improves dramatically when you go outside, chances are the building is interfering with your signal. If you are outside and still not getting good reception, try to get away from tall buildings, trees, and other things that can cause interference. If you are in a rural area, try moving to a higher altitude. It is also common that crowds such as concerts, music festivals or even inner city areas with major events in the city can cause stress on the wireless towers, limiting the signal and data speed on your smartphone.

Check for coverage issues in your area

Before you drive yourself crazy trying all of these steps, you can contact your carrier and ask if there are any coverage issues like a downed tower or a tower under maintenance in your immediate area. You can also try your provider’s Twitter to see if others are experiencing similar issues.

Perform a signal refresh

When your phone is searching for a nearby cell tower, you often only need a refreshed signal to find a strong connection. It’s a simple process: just turn your phone off and on completely, or put it in airplane mode for a few moments before switching back.

Check your network coverage map

It is a good idea to do this before moving to a new home or switching mobile service providers. Every major cell carrier – Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile (which now includes Sprint) – has detailed coverage maps available online, so you can see if your location is spotty before you proceed with troubleshooting. If you find that the coverage in your area is uneven, we recommend that you change your cellular network. There is a handy website called Cell Mapper that offers crowdsourced cell tower locations. Make sure to select your provider to find the nearest tower.

Install a repeater

Also known as a signal booster, a repeater will pick up and retransmit incoming signals, making your reception stronger. A repeater can completely resolve weak wireless signals in your home or car and works wherever there is an electrical outlet. Just make sure to choose a location that is suitable for picking up a signal. For example, a basement floor is probably not the best place to set up a repeater, as it can block the signal in the first place. A windowsill is preferred. Also remember that boosters can be expensive.

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