Today we are answering the question that many people have when installing a signal booster: What is my signal strength and how do I test it? Let us help you! Because the bars are very inaccurate when reading the signal, many phones have the capability of reading the signal in dB (decibels). This provides a much better idea of what the signal strength really is. Our focus will be on the different “test modes” and apps you can use for the iPhone and Android phones. Test modes are found within a phone’s programming that allows a user to access more data that is not regularly found.
If you have an iPhone 5 or newer, you will first need to turn off your LTE. Because your voice is operated within the 3G frequencies right now, disabling the LTE will allow you to read that accurate 3G signal. To turn off the LTE, you will go into your Settings, then to Cellular, and then you will see “Enable LTE” and you will need to slide that to the OFF position. If you have an iPhone 4s or older, you will not need to do this task. Once that is turned off, there are a couple of tools you can use to measure the signal.
The first way is to download the free app from the App Store titled “FieldTester” (all one word). Once downloaded, you will see “Phone Signal” on the left-hand side of the app, a percentage underneath that and a negative number with “dBm” directly underneath the percentage. That negative number is your signal strength. What does that negative number mean? Here’s a general rule: -60dBm is an excellent signal, meaning you are very near a cell tower; -100dBm is a poor signal, meaning your calls are getting very spotty and you may be dropping the call or text messages may fail at that point. For a good data/voice signal, you will want to see better than a -90dBm. If this app is not working for you, there is a test mode you can access within the phone. First you will go to your phone’s dial mode (found in Phone, then Keypad) and type in the following: *3001#12345#* and push the green CALL button. At this point, your phone has been set in test mode. In the top left corner, where your bars/dots generally are, you will see that negative number mentioned previously. That is your signal strength.
For Android phones, there is a free app that can be downloaded from the Play Store titled “Network Signal Info”. Once downloaded, you will see the page “Mobile” and on that page next to “Net. Strength”, you’ll see that negative number. This is your signal strength. If you are unable to download that app, you can access the phone’s test mode by going into your Settings. Scroll all the way to the bottom and click on the “About Phone” button. Next, find the “Status” option and click on it. Finally, you will see an option that says either “Signal Strength” or “Network Type & Strength” – click on that. You will see your signal reading listed on that page and the same values apply for strength of the signal as they did for the iPhone.
If you do not have an iPhone or Android phone, you are welcome to search for your phone model from our many Test Mode Instructions at the link provided: http://www.wilsonelectronics.com/uploads/docs/FieldTestModes06142010%20wilson004.pdf.
If you find that you’re having issues getting your phone into test mode or finding a test mode for your phone, please give our Technical Support team a call at 1-866-294-1660, or shoot us as email at [email protected].