Occasionally, when I’m out and about, I’ll try to make a phone call or send a text message, only to find that my cell phone reception is so far in the toilet that it’s probably already arrived at a nearby water treatment plant.
While I’d certainly love to say my cell phone provider is one hundred percent to blame for this (I’ve never been a fan of big Telecom in Canada), realistically this isn’t a problem that is unique to me or my service provider. At my old place, only one of my roommates could ever use his cell phone. The rest of us were completely out of luck. My room – along with the basement – were both absolute dead zones. Even when I could get a signal, my phone would swap between networks with such frequency that maintaining it was an exercise in futility.
I’m sure most (if not all) of you have had a similar experience at one point or another. No matter how hard you try, it seems as though your phone simply doesn’t want to function as…well, a phone. This is problematic for several reasons. First and foremost, you’re completely disconnected from all the people you might ordinarily be talking to through the device. The more pressing reason is that having your phone constantly trying to connect and continually searching for a signal, your battery is going to drain with remarkable quickness.
Suffice it to say, you want to do everything you can to improve your signal.
Option One: A Simple Solution
Before we get into anything too complex, let’s go over a few simple fixes. First and foremost, try removing it from its case, if you’ve got one. Believe it or not, your cell phone’s protective covering, depending on what material it’s composed of, can actually cause a great deal of interference as far as the signal is concerned. In many cases, removing the phone from this case might actually result in a marked improvement in signal quality.
Next, consider how you’re holding your phone. Don’t laugh – the way you hold your phone can cause interference from either the position of the antenna or the position of your hand. Unfortunately, the optimum angle differs with the model of phone – you’re going to have to experiment a bit. Try adjusting how you hold it to see if you can bring about any improvements in quality, or use a headset/hands-free array.
If you want to attempt a solution that’s really out there; try placing your phone in a glass tumbler or other piece of glassware (thanks to Make Use of User barstep for this tip). The material could potentially improve your signal, though there’s really no explanation as to why.
Last, but certainly not least, try updating the firmware/operating system on your phone. There’s a chance – albeit an extremely small one – that part of your problem is related to a software glitch or an outdated operating system. If that’s the case, a software upgrade could very well be the solution you’re looking for.
Option Two: Location, Location, Location
There are some spots that are going to be a dead zone for your cell phone no matter what you do.
Consider where you are geographically, and where you might be relative to any nearby cell phone towers(in other words, if you’re out camping, there’s a good chance you’re not going to get a signal no matter what you do).
Terrain can also cause a certain degree of interference (such as hills, mountains, trees, et-cetera) as can structures like skyscrapers or office towers.
Further, look at the material of the room you’re in, as well. If it’s composed of concrete or metal – particularly if the roof is made of these materials – your best bet is to step outside for a few minutes.
Option Three: Signal Boosters
If you’re really starting to get frustrated with your phone, and none of the previous options seem to be doing the trick, it might be worth looking into a signal booster, and see if that solves your problem. What this peripheral will look like depends both on your phone’s model, your carrier, and what band your phone is on (2G, 3G, 4G, or LTE). If purchasing a peripheral isn’t really your style, you might want to look into a few of the DIY signal boosting projects floating around the net. Do note that creating such devices might well void your warranty, so do this with caution.
A Femtocell is another possibility. These are essentially personal cell phone towers designed to emit a signal to all wireless devices in range. If all else fails, this is the solution you’re going to want to settle on.
So…there you have it. A few quick, easy ways to improve your cell phone reception. If you’ve tried everything on this list, and nothing seems to work, I’m not sure what to tell you. It might be time to purchase a new phone, or look into signing up with a new provider.
The PCMech.com weekly newsletter has been running strong for over 8 years. Sign up to get tech news, updates and exclusive content - right in your inbox. Also get (several) free gifts.