People often ask us about signal booster cases for cell phones. Do these cases really work to boost cell signal?
To find out the answer once and for all, we did some testing with signal booster cases. The test results are covered in the video above, but we found they generally do not live up to their claims.
Types of Signal Boosting Phone Cases
There are basically two types of 2 cell signal boosting phone cases – active boost and passive boost. We’ll talk about the passive type first.
Passive booster cases offer no signal amplification. What they do is extend antennas from the case, usually one antenna for 3G signal and another for 4G signal.
The idea behind these passive booster cases is that a larger antenna on the case should be able to pull in a better signal than your phone’s internal antenna, and therefore provide a reception boost. However their ability to provide that expected reception boost is limited because the antennas that extend from the case are not connected to your phone’s internal antenna.
In order for the extendable antennas in the case to work effectively and boost reception, they would need to be directly connected to your phone’s internal antenna. Because the case’s extended antennas have no direct connection to the phone’s antenna, the user will see little or no signal increase.
In the video above Derek does a data speed test that demonstrates this result. The test starts at the 1:06 mark of the video.
An example of a passive phone booster case.
To summarize the data test, not using the passive boosting case the phone gets 1.5 megabits per second downlink and 1.38 mbps uplink. Using the case the phones gets 0.83 mbps downlink and 0.5 mbps uplink. The significant data slow down with the case is likely due to the case partially blocking signals from reaching the phone’s internal antenna.
Next we’ll discuss the active cases that include signal amplification. These cases amplify the signal that coming to the phone. When you put one of these cases on your phone you may actually see increase in signal bars. It seems like the case is boosting your signal.
But there’s a catch. The case is only amplifying the signal coming from the tower to your phone, the downlink signal. That’s why you may see the increase in bars. More about this later.
But your phone, in addition to receiving signal from the tower, also transmits signal back to the tower to complete the communication loop. A signal booster case does not boost this uplink signal going from phone to tower. As a result, incoming signal is stronger because of the booster case, but the outgoing signal is not.
If any phone can’t transmit signal reliably back to the tower, the communication loop is broken. This could cause your cell connection to drop or to fade in and out intermittently. Remember those old “Can you hear me now?” commercials on TV? That’s the kind of poor reception we’re talking about.
Data signal test on an active cell booster case.
In the video Derek does a data test with an active signal boosting case that starts at the 4:24 mark. In the test the phone, with amplifier case turned off, gets data reception of 2.5 mbps uplink and almost 4 mbps downlink.
With the amplifier case turned on, the phone gets 2.47 mbps downlink, or about the same as the other test. But it gets only 1 mbps uplink reception speed. This is in line with our explanation above. The case may improve downlink signal, but will not improve uplink signal.
To effectively increase signal strength, any cell phone signal booster must amplify both downlink and uplink signals.
We encourage you to watch the video if you haven’t done so already.
To learn more or see our weBoost line of cell phone signal boosters for home, vehicles or office, click below.