The 10 Best Ways to Improve Mobile Signal Strength

Try these tips to get better cell phone reception

There are a number of causes for a weak cellular signal but fortunately there are also a variety of fixes that are fast to implement and easy to do whether you’re using an iPhone, an Android smartphone, or some other mobile device.

Here’s 10 of the best ways for how to improve cell signal reception and strength no matter where you are.

01
of 10

Check If Your Provider Is Down

Elderly couple with a laptop, mobile phone, and phone bills.

JoseLuisPelaezInc/DigitalVision/GettyImages

What We Like
  • Checking with your provider first could save you a lot of time.

  • A service outage is actually good news as it means your phone is working properly and you just have to wait.

What We Don't Like
  • Service outages in small rural areas may not be announced on social media.

  • Customer support wait times may be long if other users are affected.

If you’re wondering how to improve cell signal on your phone due to your internet data speed suddenly slowing down or cutting off completely, the first thing you should do is check to see if your carrier is experiencing some kind of service outage or restriction. While typically rare, service outages can happen as a result of a technical failure on the provider’s end or even due to a natural disaster that may have damaged mobile towers and phone lines.

Both major and minor mobile service interruptions are usually posted on a provider’s website and social media accounts such as Twitter and Facebook. If no announcement has been made, you can also try contacting a representative via their official customer support portal.

02
of 10

Call From a Different Location

A woman sitting near an open door checking her mobile phone.

OliverRossi/Stone/GettyImagesPlus

What We Like
  • If the problem is location-based, you won't need to worry about buying a new phone.

  • Testing this is very easy to do and only takes a few minutes.

What We Don't Like
  • This can be frustrating if parts of your house or office are signal dead zones.

It may sound a bit silly but one of the most-effective ways for how to get better cell signal on your smartphone is to try making a call or checking apps from different parts of the room or house. Some objects, or even your house itself, could be blocking the mobile signal and, while you can’t move your house, you can experiment with different locations.

If people often comment on a lot of static or you dropping out during a phone call, take note of where you’re standing and try to avoid this area in future conversations.

All you need to do is keep an eye on your phone’s signal strength via the bars at the top of the screen as you walk around. Try different rooms in different parts of the building and don’t forget to see if the signal strengthens once you go outside.

03
of 10

Turn Airplane Mode On and Off

A woman sitting on an airplane listening to a tech podcast on her smartphone.

 Ben Pipe Photography / Cultura

What We Like
  • Turning Airplane Mode off and on is very easy and quick to do.

  • This is a very reliable tip that works a lot of the time.

What We Don't Like
  • Once children discover this setting, they'll often prank their parents by turning it on.

Airplane Mode is a setting on all smartphones, tablets, and most modern computers that essentially disables all wireless signals so that the devices can be, as you may have guessed, used safely on an airplane. Unfortunately, this setting can often be switched on accidentally, especially when fiddling around with internet settings.

Airplane Mode is usually represented by an airplane icon.

Turning Airplane Mode off can be done very easily on both iOS and Android smart devices. If you’re wondering how to get a better signal due to bad quality phone calls or slow media downloads, you may also want to try deliberately turning Airplane Mode on, waiting a few seconds, and then turning it off again. This will reset your device’s connection to your cellular provider and is a very effective way of getting rid of any weak signal issues.

04
of 10

Disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to Fix Your Signal

Woman wearing Bose Headphones 700 Silver Bluetooth headset.

Bose

What We Like
  • Turning Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on and off is very easy to do via the main settings menu on iOS and Android.

What We Don't Like
  • Such conflicts are difficult to fix long term and often require using another phone or tablet for connecting to a problematic Bluetooth device.

Turning off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi wireless connections can be an effective way to get better phone signals whether you’re using 3G, 4G, or 5G. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signals can frequently cause conflicts between devices and apps and have even been known to cancel each other out. Your new Bluetooth headphones may be great but they could also be the cause of your phone problems.

A Bluetooth or Wi-Fi conflict will slow down or stop your data but it won’t change the number of bars in the cellular signal icon. A conflict could still be happening even if you have full bars.

To see if your Wi-Fi or Bluetooth is affecting the strength of your phone’s cellular signal, experiment with turning each one off while trying to make a phone call or downloading data from an app. If your Wi-Fi is the problem, you may need to try increasing its signal strength. If a Bluetooth connection is causing issues, see if you can use another smart device for connecting with your Bluetooth accessory. 

05
of 10

Update Your Phone’s Operating System to Increase Data Speeds

Image of a TikTok video being downloaded from a smartphone with data being shown as rainbow colors.

JohnLamb/DigitalVision/GettyImages

What We Like
  • Updating your OS and apps can added increased security and features.

What We Don't Like
  • Downloading and installing updates can take several hours depending on your internet speed.

One tip that could potentially increase phone signal and data speeds on your smartphone is to download and install the latest operating system and app updates. Such updates frequently include bug fixes for connection error bugs in addition to adding support for improved cellular network technologies and services offered by your provider.

It can be tempting to put off installing updates due to how long they can take to download but they are usually very important for maintaining device functionality and also to improve security against malware, virus, and mobile hacks.

06
of 10

Reset Network Settings to Boost Your Reception

Decentralized network over a city at night.

Dong Wenjie/Moment/GettyImages

What We Like
  • Resetting network connections can be a great way to clean out your unused Wi-Fi login details.

  • The entire process only takes a few seconds.

What We Don't Like
  • You will need to re-enter all of your internet passwords after doing this.

A 'phone signal down' type of error message or a lack of cellular signal can sometimes be fixed by resetting your network settings on your smartphone or tablet.

Performing a network reset will delete your Wi-Fi usernames and passwords in addition to any VPN settings that you’ve enabled but your phone should reconnect to your provider automatically once the reset if finished.

07
of 10

Manually Choose Your Provider

Illustration of two cartoon hands holding mobile phones with locked and unlocked symbols.

succodesign/iStock/GettyImagesPlus

What We Like
  • This feature can give some Android users more options when it comes to their data speed.

What We Don't Like
  • The option to select network operators is limited to only some Android devices and areas.

A little-known way for how to increase mobile network signal in homes and offices is to manually select your network. This option is only available on some Android smartphone models but those who have the setting will be able to choose between a number of network operators.

To check if this option is available, tap Settings > Mobile Networks > Network operators > Search networks. A range of network operator options should appear. If they do, experiment with different ones to find one that gives your phone the strongest and fastest signal.

08
of 10

Improve Cell Signal With a Signal Booster Device

A weBoost signal booster installed in a home.

Wilson Electronics

What We Like
  • Buying a signal booster is a great solution if you're in a rural area with no support.

  • Most models support a variety of cellular carriers.

What We Don't Like
  • Signal boosters can be expensive with some costing over $1,000.

Cellphone signal boosters are incredibly useful devices that can increase the strength of your phone’s 3G, 4G, or 5G connection either when traveling to areas with poor coverage or simply when using your phone in your house or workplace.

Do cell phone signal boosters work? A lot of the time, yes. These devices perform a similar function to a TV antennae in that you place them in a location with prime access to a wireless signal, such as your balcony or roof, and that stronger signal is then made available for your smartphone and other connected devices to use.

The weBoost cellphone signal booster is a popular model but there are a variety of signal booster brands and designs worth looking at that support most major networks such as Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile.

09
of 10

Get a New Phone With Better Signal Reception

T-Mobile employees in a branch greeting customers.
​T-Mobile
What We Like
  • Newer phone models often have better features that make the upgrade worth it.

  • Upgrading can be free with some providers if you've been with them for a while.

What We Don't Like
  • There's no denying that it can be hard to let go of your favorite devices.

  • It can be frustrating when you feel forced to upgrade just to get a usable signal.

You may not want to hear this, but it may be time to upgrade to a newer smartphone model. New Android and iPhone smartphones frequently include hardware upgrades to their antennae that provide more consistent coverage in addition to having support for faster wireless internet and cellular connections via 4G, 5G, and eventually 6G.

If you’ve just upgraded your mobile phone in the last two years or so, you should try the other tips on this page for how to get better signal strength. However, if your smartphone is several years old, especially if it’s an ancient pre-smartphone model, it may be time to say goodbye to the old and hello to the new. Fortunately, there are a lot of exciting new cell phone models to choose from and upgrading can be pretty cheap nowadays if you’ve been with the same carrier for a long time.

10
of 10

Try Calling With an App Over Wi-Fi

Woman standing in the rain with an umbrella checking her iPhone weather app
Your weather app doesn't have to be so basic.

 Westend61

What We Like
  • Most of your contacts will already be using at least one voice call app.

  • There are a wide variety of phone call apps to choose from and most are free.

What We Don't Like
  • You will need to keep an eye on your internet data usage if you're on a small plan.

If your main concern with having a weak cellular signal is its negative effect on phone calls, you may want to try bypassing cellular calls altogether and calling your friends, family, and colleagues via a free text and call apps.

Apps such as WhatsApp, Line, Skype, Telegram, WeChat, and even Facebook Messenger let you make voice calls with a Wi-Fi internet connection so it doesn’t matter how poor your 4G or 5G reception is. Most of these apps are also classified as video call apps which means that you can do video calls with them via Wi-Fi too.