This a pretty common question from people looking at a cell signal booster for their vehicle, whether it’s a car, pickup, or even a boat. At a glance the specs for these two in-vehicle boosters look quite similar.
Both collect weak cell signals while you’re on the road or water, including 2G, 3G and 4G LTE. They amplify those signals and redistribute them in the vehicle so cell phones can connect.
The result is fewer dropped calls and dead zones, clearer audio for voice calls, and faster data downloads in weak signal areas. Both provide stronger cell signal, greater connection range and more reliable mobile service.
Both the Drive 4G-M (470108) and the Drive 4G-X (470510) are popular models and offer the same level of signal boost.
But there is a major difference between these two models. But before we discuss that, let’s see how they’re similar.
How they’re similar
We already know both are for vehicles. Here are some other similarities:
Both boost voice, SMS (text) and data as described above.
Both support multiple simultaneous connections by cell devices in the vehicle
Both boost signals for all North American cell carriers
Both provide up to 50 decibels (dB) gain, or boost for signals coming from the cell tower
How the Drive 4G-X is different
And the difference? The Drive 4G-X provides the maximum legally-allowed uplink power on each frequency band. What does that mean? It means the Drive 4G-X has the FCC-allowed maximum power to transmit signals back to the cell tower.
To put it another way, the Drive 4G-X provides up to double the transmitting power (phone-to-tower) of the Drive 4G-M, for reliable connections at longer range. That is the major difference between these two boosters.
For those who enjoy digging into the technical details, here we go. If you don’t care for technical stuff, skip this paragraph. The Drive 4G-X on each of the five supported frequency bands has +3 dB (decibels) more uplink power than the Drive 4G-M. While +3 dB uplink may not sound like much, it’s actually double the uplink power of the Drive 4G-M. The decibel scale is logarithmic, and each 3 dB plus or minus represent a factor of 2, so +3 dB is double and -3 dB is half.
In practical terms this just means the Drive 4G-X provides greater connection range than the Drive 4G-M. With the 4G-X you’ll be able to get and keep a connection at a distance further from the cell tower than with the 4G-M.
In a perfect world you would get double the connection range with the Drive 4G-X. But cell connection range is affected but many factors, so it’s more realistic for Drive 4G-X users to get about 1.5 to 1.6 times the connection range of the 4G-M.
So for the person who needs a cell phone signal booster in their vehicle, here’s the bottom line on the Drive 4G-X and Drive 4G-M:
Both boosters work very well and deliver the same signal gain. However, because of its longer connection range the Drive 4G-X is ideal for those who live and work in areas where cell towers are few and far between – where connection range is the biggest signal problem. We’re talking about the countryside and other rural areas.
On the other hand, the Drive 4G-M is perfect for those who live and work in more urbanized or suburban areas where cell towers are more plentiful, and where cell connection issues are less due to range than to other factors.
To improve cell reception in your vehicle, click below to see these two models and our full line of vehicle boosters.