It’s useful to know what the signal strength of your Android cell phone is at a specific moment. Perhaps you’re trying to make a call, but it won’t go through to the intended recipient. Or maybe texts, emails or posts hit your inbox hours after they were sent.
Of course, all Android phones have the “bars” graphic that displays on your home screen. This is supposed to show you what your network strength is on your Android phone. The problem with the bar’s representation is that there are no standards. The accuracy of the bars graphic can vary widely between phone models, devices from different manufacturers, and operating systems.
Viewing your phone’s actual signal strength reading is always preferable to relying on the bars graphic. My Android phone’s 3 bars may well represent a stronger signal than your iPhone’s 4 bars. Read on to learn the best ways to measure cell signal strength on Android phones.
How Strong is Your Android’s Signal Really?
Your Android’s signal strength is measured in dBm, or decibel milliwatts, a standard unit of measure. dBm is typically expressed as a negative number, -88 for example. The closer to zero the reading is, the stronger the cell phone signal. So, for example, -79 dBm is a stronger signal than -88 dBm.
In cases like these knowing your signal strength can help you determine why you didn’t get the cell service you expected and take action, so it doesn’t happen again.
Android Field Test Mode to Check Signal Strength
Checking the dBm reading on your Android phone will help you test the actual signal strength your phone is receiving. Finding the dBm menu screen varies across device manufacturers, phone models and versions of Android OS.
A typical navigation sequence is:
- Settings –> About Phone –> Status (or Network) On this screen, view Signal Strength (or Network Type and Strength).
Another sequence for some Android phones is:
- Settings –> More Options (or More Settings) –> About Phone –> Mobile Networks On this screen, view Signal Strength.
Android Apps to Check Cell Signal Strength
There are a variety of apps you can use to check the signal strength on your Android.
- Network Cell Info Lite – This app received 5 stars on Google Play and is one that we highly recommend. If you have a slow connection, this app helps you to test cellular and Wi-Fi signal strength and save your measurements on the app. It also shows you your nearest cell tower location.
- OpenSignal – This app received 4 stars on Google Play and checks Android network speeds. It allows you to compare cell coverage in your area from Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon. A newly released feature on this app allows you to check the streaming speed for online streaming services.
- Phone signal information – Rated at 5 stars, this app lets you check your dBm reading on 4G and 3G networks. It also can display a signal graph which shows signal levels for up to 60 minutes.
- LTE Discovery – This app got 4 stars on Google Play and shows the LTE bands for a variety of carriers. Please note that this app is advanced and offers a lot of detailed information.
What to do About Weak Android Signal Strength
When you’ve tested your Android’s signal strength, the closer to zero the dBm reading is, the stronger the cell phone signal. For example, -79 dBm is a stronger signal than -88 dBm. A reading of -50 is the strongest signal you will see. When a signal is weaker than -100 dBm, that’s a pretty weak signal.
If the signal gets much weaker than that, you likely won’t have cell service and might require a cell phone signal booster to increase android signal strength.
Cell phone signal boosters amplify weak cell signal into vehicles or homes so you can enjoy faster data, better call/voice quality and strong cell signal strength. They work with any cell carrier whether that be AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile or Sprint.