Pretty much all of us have cell phones that we use a lot. And pretty much all of us expect to be able to use our cell phone wherever we go – home, office, school, the commute between, shopping, the gym, restaurants and bars, the park.
You name it. Wherever we go, we expect our phones to work.
So when we are actually in a place that has no or poor cell reception, we get incredibly frustrated because we can’t call, text, post to Instagram or do anything else that requires a connection to the network.
Years ago we thought of bad cell reception as limited to rural locations that weren’t covered by enough cell towers.
But now we know it also happens right in the middle of urban areas, thanks to all the obstacles that block cell tower signals from reaching our phones.
We’ve all been there – someplace where we can’t use our phones because of bad reception.
Maybe you have a regular poor-signal spot – a location where, even before you arrive there, you know you’ll have lousy cell reception, or maybe no reception at all.
We all hate having bad cell signal. So here are our best signal-boosting tips that cost nothing, collected over the past 18 years that we’ve been in the improved cell signal business.
We hope one or more of them will help you get better cell reception, wherever you need it.
Tips to Improve Your Cell Signal for Free
1. If you’re moving, stop. When you are stationary, your phone and the network don’t have to constantly adjust for your changing location. This makes it easier to get and hold a strong signal.
2. If there’s a case on your phone, remove it. Test to see if the signal is better without the case. A case can block cell signals from reaching your phone’s internal antenna, so removing it may improve your reception.
3. Don’t block the internal antenna while holding your phone. Be aware of the position of your hand on the phone while calling, texting, etc. Try a different hand position to see if reception improves.
4. Go outside or get clear of any obstructions. Building materials block cell signals, so if you’re in a building go outside to get better reception. If you’re already outside, find an open area like a plaza or a park where cell signals are more likely to reach you than when you’re standing on an urban street surrounded by tall buildings.
5. Keep your battery charged up. A low battery can negatively impact your phone’s ability to get and hang onto a cell signal.
6. Change location to see if reception is better. If you’re inside, move to another room of the house or into your office corridor. Or try next to a window, where cell signal may better penetrate the exterior walls. If in a vehicle, try driving a mile down the road.
7. Increase your elevation. As already noted, anything between you and the cell tower can block the signal. By moving to the top floor of your home, office building or even the roof of your apartment building you reduce the chance of obstructions blocking the cell signal. If you’re driving, find a high spot and park there. Being up just a little higher can improve reception.
8. Use the Wifi network. All newer smartphones allow native Wifi calling and texting, which is supported by all major U.S. cell carriers. There also are a bunch of messaging apps now for audio and video calling. So if you have solid Wifi coverage in your location, it may be a perfectly good substitute for the spotty cellular network.
9. Locate the nearest cell tower. When you know where the cell tower is located, you know which direction your signal is coming from. Once you know that, move to the side of the building nearest the tower to see if reception is better. If you’re outside, try to get clear of any signal-blocker obstructions between you and the tower.
10. Try switching from 4G to 3G. Turn off your LTE service to see if you can get a better connection and improved coverage by using the 3G network, or perhaps even the 2G network where it’s available. How you turn off 4G service varies by carrier and phone model. A ‘how to turn off 4G’ Web search will return plenty of results.
Learn more about improving your cell signal with our Consumer Guide to Cell Phone Signal Boosters.