Best Apps to Check and Test Cell Signal Strength

Usually, if we have decent signal strength at all times, we don’t concern ourselves with issues such as finding a good cell signal analyzer. But if you have bad reception constantly, or even sporadically, you’d know the pain of having to go into detail and finding out the reasons behind the situation and ways of fixing it. Here we’ll discuss which is the best cell signal strength app to choose, and which can help you identify the weak spots for your signal. This is the first step in the direction of fixing your signal problems. But firstly, let’s identify the problem. 

What is cell signal strength? 

Cell signal strength is the reliability of the signal received by your device. It depends on a multitude of different factors, like the proximity of the cell tower, the specific landscape of your location, the amount of wiring in the walls, the thickness of the stone blocks in the building, etc. As you see the factors affecting your signal are versatile, but the outcome can be the same. Lousy signal, dropped calls and insufficient internet speed. Luckily, the signal strength can be positively influenced by different factors and can be completely repaired with devices, such as signal boosters.

If you are interested in a signal booster app for Android or iPhone, we have to stop you right here, and tell you that these apps can’t boost signal at all. What we are talking about here are merely apps for detecting the signal strength and giving you substantial info about it. But why do we need to know exact information about the signal? Aren’t dropped calls enough proof? 

Yes, dropped calls and interruptions do indicate a problem, but before attempting to fix it, you have to know exactly how bad things are, in order to know what device you need for fixing it. In this case, bars on your phone are not a reliable source of information. Read on to find out why. 

What are Decibels? 

Decibels (dB) are a measure of mobile signal, while mobile signal strength is measured in Decibel-milliwatts (dBm) and when it comes to signal strength, there is a certain range that can grant some call quality. That’s anywhere between 0 and -110 dBm approximately. To be more precise, this is the relative range of signal strength:

  • – 50 dBm would indicate a great signal strength. At this point you wouldn’t even think of checking it. And this number can be larger (closer to 0). The closer it is to 0, the better. 
  • -50-65 dBm would indicate a fairly strong signal
  • -65-80 dBm is a good signal still, but with possible interruptions
  • -80-100 dBm poor signal, but you will still be able to make calls, and get some basic things done on the internet. 

Beyond that point the signal is too weak to achieve any quality conversation without the call being dropped, or use the mobile data. 

This is where a cell phone signal app can come in handy and show you the exact dBm readings, along with some more useful information on your reception and carrier. 

Now the natural question is, why would you need to know the exact decibels, if you have the bars to indicate the connection quality? Let’s see what these bars actually are and answer this question. 

What is a signal bar?

A signal bar is a completely arbitrary parameter of the signal strength that can vary from carrier to carrier and from phone to phone. The same dBm reading can be indicated as 3 bars on AT&T network and 4 bars on Verizon, or vice versa. There can also be a difference, depending on whether you are an iPhone, or an Android phone user. These bars have been created to give the user some hands-on approximate information about the signal, without getting in too much detail. So, frankly, bars mean nothing when it comes to situations, where exact measurements are necessary. 

How to check signal strength on your phone?

Clearly, a cell phone signal strength app can provide you with much more thorough information about your signal, but if you are interested in getting some dBm info directly from your device, read on to find out how. Naturally, a  cell phone signal strength test can be performed on any smartphone, after you turn off the WiFI,  but Android and iPhone have their differences:

  • If you are an iPhone user, go to your keypad and dial *3001#12345#*. This will activate the field test menu. After that, select LTE from the given list and then go to Serving Cell Meas. The indication you are looking for is either rsrp1, or rsrp 0. You’ll see a negative number with dBm next to it. That’s your signal strength measure. 

If this doesn’t work, after dialing the initial combination, try tapping on 1xEV-DO This option will give you the dBm reading on some models of iPhones. 

NOTE: There are iPhone models that do not have this option at all and you cannot check the signal strength from the phone directly. 

  • In case you are an Android user, do the following: 

Go to Settings – About Phone- Status or Network – Sim Status. There you’ll see the dBm reading. 

As we mentioned before, this is a valid option for most phone models, but if you want more detailed information, including the nearest cell towers, you’ll need a cell signal app to help you out. 

Apps to check cell signal strength

Signal strength app 4G signal tester, cell signal app, doesn’t matter what you call it really, they all serve the same goal by and large, with various options available, but the difference is, not all of them are suitable for both Android and iPhone. Here are a few of the  most prominent apps available today:

Apps for Android users:

  • LTE Discovery

LTE Discovery is one of the best apps in the Play Store, when it comes to signal information. This app has an automated visual logger, a very impressive signal data analyzer, and many other useful options. You can also check for the nearest cell tower, which can be extremely handy in various situations. 

  • Network Cell Info Lite  

This is a great app that shows the location of your signal on a map. The signal strength is color-coded and you’ll get info not only on your reception in dBm, but also RSSNR info (Reference Signal Signal to Noise Ratio). As we mentioned above, these apps are available for Android users only, so read on to find out more on a cell signal strength meter app iPhone users will appreciate. 

Apps for iPhone and Android users

  • Open Signal 

This is an iphone signal strength app, that is also available at the Playstore for Android users to enjoy. It will check your 3G, 4G or Wifi signal, giving you comprehensive data on all the devices, routers and mobile phone antennas. Great user-friendly interface and useful data in one app. 

  • Root Metrics

This app presents thoroughly compiled performance information to its users, making sure no important parameter is left out. This app is capable of testing network performance, while the phone is in use and the presenting you with the results. This great app is out there for both iPhone and Android users to enjoy. 

There is a great deal of frustration that comes with having a troubled signal. But knowing the exact measurements of your signal can be the first step in fixing it. As we saw, there are a few legit ways to test it, and you are free to choose the one you find more suitable to your situation. 

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