How to boost your cell signal

There’s nothing more frustrating than experiencing a poor signal on your cell phone. From dropped calls to messages that won’t send and streaming services that stutter and die, a lack of solid signal on your cell can cause all kinds of inconveniences.

Sadly, building towers to get more bars isn’t an option — but don’t worry. There are plenty of things you can do to avoid poor cell service interfering with your day-to-day. Take a closer look at our tips for ensuring you get the best possible signal, as well as some pointers on how to boost your cell signal.

Remove your case

Your phone case could be interfering with your signal strength, especially if it’s a rugged case or has metal in it. Try removing the case to see if that helps improve reception or call quality.

Keep your battery charged

A low phone battery can affect your phone’s ability to receive a strong signal, and it can also affect performance. Try to keep your battery above 25% whenever possible. Consider carrying a portable charger with you so you can keep your phone charged on the go.

Use Wi-Fi calling

There’s a strong chance 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 widely available now and it may be as simple as changing a setting on your phone. On an Apple iPhone, go to Settings > Phone > Wi-Fi Calling and make sure that it’s toggled on. The setting can be located in different places on different Android phones so open up your Settings and use the search at the top to look for Wi-Fi calling. You will also have to check in with your carrier to find out what their policy on Wi-Fi calling is. Some carriers may expect you to pay extra money or jump through a few hoops to activate it.

If you’re unable to 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 you’re calling will also need to have the same app.

Check your settings

iPhone 11 Pro Settings
Corey Gaskin / Digital Trends

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

On an iPhone go to Settings > Cellular. On an Android, it will be Settings > Network & internet or maybe if you have a Samsung it will be Settings > Connections > Mobile networks. If you can’t see any issues it may be worth resetting to see if that helps. On an iPhone, it’s Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings, but bear in mind this will also reset your Wi-Fi networks and passwords so you’ll have to set them up again. On an Android phone it will differ from device to device; on a Pixel 4 it’s Settings > System > Reset options > Reset Wi-Fi, mobile, and Bluetooth but on a Samsung Galaxy S10 it’s 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 a little research to find the best carrier for coverage in your area and consider switching to them. We have a guide to help you switch carriers with minimal hassle. You can also find coverage maps for a lot of major carriers worldwide at Open Signal.

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. You could also try your carrier’s Twitter to see if others are experiencing similar issues.

Perform a signal refresh

Often when your phone is in the middle of looking for a nearby cell tower, the only thing it needs to find a strong connection is a signal refresh. It’s an easy process — just turn your phone completely off and on again, or switch it to airplane mode for a few moments before switching back.

Check your network’s coverage map

It’s a good idea to do this before moving to a new house or changing cell service providers. Every major cell carrier — VerizonAT&T, and T-Mobile (which now includes Sprint) — has detailed coverage maps available online, so you can see if your location is spotty before doing any more troubleshooting. If you find that your area’s coverage is spotty, we suggest that you think about changing your cell phone network. There’s a useful website called Cell Mapper that offers crowdsourced locations for cell towers. Make sure to select your carrier to find the nearest tower.

Install a repeater

Also known as a signal booster, a repeater will capture and rebroadcast incoming signals, making your reception stronger. A repeater can completely solve weak wireless signals in your house or car, and it works anywhere there’s an electrical outlet. Just make sure to pick a location that is conducive to capturing a signal. For instance, a basement probably isn’t the best place to set up a repeater since it might block the signal in the first place. A window sill is preferable. Remember as well that boosters can be expensive.

Editors' Recommendations