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Finding Your Phone's Signal Strength Reading (Field Test Mode)

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Viewing your phone's actual signal strength by reading decibels is preferable to relying on the "bars" graphic as an indication of signal strength. The issue with the bars representation is that there are no standards. A phone's 3 bars may represent a stronger signal than another phone's 4 bars or even 5 bars.

This is difficult to accurately determine the signal strength. The best way to determine the strength of signal received by your phone is to view the signal strength reading. These readings are expressed in decibels (dBm), a standard unit of measurement. They allow us to accurately know when devices are receiving a stronger signal or a weaker signal in a numerical value.

Please notice that signal strength is expressed as a negative number and can range from about -30 to -110. On certain phones, the number may show as positive in test mode. In such cases, convert it to negative. For example, 60 dBm is -60 dBm in this way. The closer the number is to zero, the better signal the device is receiving. Thus, a reading of -60 dBm is a stronger signal than -75 dBm. Some phones may show either a 1x/3G reading or a 4G/LTE reading at the top of the phone. 

It is important to know your carrier's signal strength, as this will help determine if you need a booster and where you need the boosted signal to go. Check out this video for tips on improving your cell signal:



Most Android phone models allow the user to view signal strength readings by navigating the device's menu tree. Finding the right menu screen varies across phone manufacturers, models and versions of Android OS. A typical navigation sequence is Settings – About Phone – Status or Network – Signal Strength or Network Type and Strength.

An alternate nav sequence for some Android phones is Settings – More Options or More Settings – About Phone – Mobile Networks – Signal Strength. Some experimenting with the menus on your Android phone should get you a dBm reading that's reliable.

After following the instructions above, if you unable to determine your device's signal strength reading, check the operations guide that came with your device. Alternatively, there are apps you can download from the Play Store, such as SignalCheck Lite, which may allow you to read your signal strength as well. *Hint: look for the 1x or 3G signal for accurate results.*

Finally, if necessary, you may have to contact your phone manufacturer's customer support group for help.


Iphone models require the user to access the phone's 'Field Test Mode' in order to view a signal strength reading.


*For use on an iPhone 5 and higher, running on iOS 9 or newer, go in to your Settings, then Cellular, then Cellular Data Options, then change the Enable LTE status to OFF (after testing you can go back in and turn the LTE back to either Voice & Data or to Data).*

*Update for iOS 11 does not allow for iPhones to be placed in the Field Test mode.*

  1. Dial *3001#12345#*
  2. Press CALL
  3. If you are using an iPhone 4S or older, then your signal strength will appear on the top left corner.  If using an iPhone 5 or newer, then keep following the steps.
  4. Hold the power button for about 5-7 seconds until you see the “Slide to Power Off” screen.
  5. Do NOT power off the phone!
  6. Hold the home button (round button at the bottom) for about 5-7 seconds; it will return you to the home screen and the negative decibel reading will be at the top left corner of your screen.


To allow the negative number to change, or for the most accurate readings, put your phone into Airplane Mode. This is especially helpful if you are taking readings at different locations, or it serves as a means to refresh the cellular network status in your phone.

To access Airplane Mode, swipe the screen from the bottom to the top to bring up all of your gadgets (Airplane Mode, WiFi, Bluetooth, etc.). Tap the airplane icon to turn it on, wait 5-10 seconds, and then tap it again to turn it off. Your signal strength should change. 

*If you do not wish for the negative number to be permanently shown, you can dial the number sequence again and just hit “Back to Phone” or press the home button and it’ll return your phone to the dots/bars again.*

Thanks to a 3rd party, we have provided you a list of test mode instructions for other types of phones. To find a possible test mode for your phone (other than what's already been mentioned above), you can visit the following link: http://www.wpsantennas.com/pdf/testmode/FieldTestModes.pdf.

To report any necessary updates for this information please contact WPS Antennas via one of the contact methods below:

            By email: wpsantennas@wpsantennas.com

            By toll-free telephone: (877) 594-5766

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