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.
ANDROID FIELD TEST MODE INSTRUCTIONS:
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.
Finally, if necessary, you may have to contact your phone manufacturer's customer support group for help.
IPHONE FIELD TEST MODE INSTRUCTIONS:
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 6 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 may not allow for iPhones to be placed in the Field Test mode.*
- Turn off your WiFi if it's on or available.
- Dial *3001#12345#*
- Press CALL
Verizon or Sprint - Qualcomm Chipset**
- Tap on "1x EV-DO"
- "Rx AGC0" is where your decibel reading is displayed.
- You may have to restart your phone to be able to get back into the menu again.
- Please remember that the closer the negative number is to -50, the better the reading is on your phone (eg. -80 is better than a -95)
NOTE: iPhone X may not be able to work with this type of decibel readings with the LTE off, it's best to keep it on for the iPhone X only.
AT&T and T-Mobile - Intel Chipset**
Keeping your LTE on would be advised for best results.
- Tap on "LTE"
- Tap on "Serving Cell Measure", it may be addressed as "Serving Cell Meas" as well.
- "rsrp0" is where your LTE measurement is located.
Be aware that LTE signal is not the same as 3G or 1X since it's on a different frequency. The principal is the same where a negative number such as -90 is better than a -100.
You can switch back in between phone menus without turning off the phone completely.
**If there's a provider that is not mentioned, you can find your phone's model and see what type of chip you have in your phone by doing these simple steps:
- Go to "Settings"
- Tap on "General" or "General Settings"
- Tap on "About"
- Go down to "Model" and tap on the model number. For an Iphone 6S from Verizon it should show "MKT02LL/A" and when pressed it should switch to the true hidden model number being "A1688" for an Intel or "A1633' for Qualcomm
- From there you should be able to determine what to look for as explained above on how to find your decibel readings.
Here are a list of iPhone's models and their associated chip:
"Other" refers to international carriers that may or may not being using the same Intel or Qualcomm chip. They may work with the new test mode as well.
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.
ALTERNATIVE FIELD TEST MODES
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
By toll-free telephone: (877) 594-5766