You’re trying to stream the latest episode of your favorite show on your new iPhone, when suddenly it starts stuttering. You are in a dreaded low-signal situation. From calls dropping to slow streaming, bad signal can be the bane of our existence. Here are some tips to make sure you’re getting the best signal you can, and what you can do when you’re not getting those five bars.
Figure out what’s causing the poor signal. There are many factors that play into your phone’s reception — your wireless carrier, the phone itself, the size of the crowd you’re in (if you’re in one), the materials your house or car are made out of, and even your geographic location all play a role in determining your signal strength. Do your best to narrow it down to which one is causing the most trouble.
Move to a better location. If you have poor reception inside your home or office, but it drastically improves whenever you go outside, there’s a good chance that the building is impeding your signal. If you’re outside and still can’t get good reception, try moving away from tall buildings, trees, and anything else that could cause interference. If you’re in a rural area, try moving to a higher elevation. It’s also common that crowds such as concerts, music festivals, or even downtown areas with major events in town can create stress on the wireless towers, limiting signal and data speed on your smartphone.
Check for coverage issues in your area. Before you drive yourself nuts trying all these steps, you can reach out to your carrier and ask if there are any coverage issues such as a downed tower or one under maintenance in your immediate area.
Perform a signal refresh. Sometimes your phone gets stuck searching for the nearest cell tower, and all it needs is a signal refresh to establish a strong connection. This can be done by rebooting your phone completely, or by switching on airplane mode (if your phone has one) for a second and then turning it back off.
Install a repeater. If you have a weak signal in your house or car, try installing a wireless signal repeater. These things can be placed basically anywhere there’s a power outlet, and will catch incoming signals and then rebroadcast them — effectively strengthening your reception.
Check your network’s coverage map to make sure you’re in a good area. Just about every card-carrying wireless provider (Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile) will offer a detailed map of the areas their network covers. If coverage is spotty in your area, consider switching networks.
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