10 ways to boost your cellular signal and stay connected to your network

  • You can try to boost your cellular signal with simple fixes like moving outdoors, going in and out of Airplane Mode, and keeping your battery from entering low power mode. 
  • Many factors can affect your phone's cellular signal strength — here are 10 ways you can try to boost your cell signal.
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You probably hear the question, "How many bars do you have?" pretty often. Cell phone signals are an essential commodity these days, since it affects not just your ability to make phone calls, but also send text messages and even connect to the internet when you're away from Wi-Fi. 

Any number of factors can affect how well you can keep your phone connected, so here are 10 things you can do to troubleshoot and improve your cell signal.  

How to boost your cell signal

  • Get out from behind materials that block your signal. Cell signals are easily blocked, and so if you find your signal is weak, solving the problem might be as simple as moving outdoors.
  • Reboot your cellular radio. Sometimes your phone can get confused and fail to lock onto the best cell tower. If you suspect a problem, turn your phone's Airplane Mode on and off, or just restart the phone entirely. 
  • Change your location. Even if you're outdoors, tall buildings and large bodies of water can block signals, so move to a different spot or go to higher ground.
  • Remove the case. While unlikely, it's possible your phone's case can be interfering with your cellular signal. If you recently got a new case and noticed a drop in cellular signal, take it out of the case and see if that improves your phone's signal. 
  • Check a coverage map. All the major carriers publish coverage maps you can check to see if you are in an area with limited or no coverage. You can zoom in on your location on T-Mobile's coverage map, for example, or if you can look at AT&T's coverage map if you are a customer there. Verizon also publishes a coverage map. 
  • Update your carrier settings. If you have an iPhone, it's possible that your cell service provider has updated its settings, and you need to update your phone's carrier settings to take advantage of them. To check, make sure you have a good connection (cellular or Wi-Fi) and then start the Settings app. Tap "General" and then "About." If there's an update available, install it. 
  • Don't let your battery get too low. If your battery gets critically low, your phone automatically enters low power mode, which may dedicate less power to the cellular radio. If you're having trouble connecting, charge your phone – and you can do things like lower screen brightness and make the screen sleep faster to extend the battery life through the day. 
  • Install a signal booster. If you live in an area with poor service coverage, you might need to install a signal booster, sometimes called a repeater, in your home. These devices boost the cellular signal and give you a usable signal. Unfortunately, they're often expensive, costing hundreds of dollars. If you think you need one, call your cellular provider – most offer boosters you can purchase, though you can also buy one on your own. 
  • Change carriers. If you live or work in an area with especially bad cellular coverage, you might not need to tolerate it. Competing cellular providers might have better coverage where you need it most, so check coverage maps (see the "check a coverage map" tip) to see if another provider is better.
  • Use Wi-Fi instead. While this doesn't technically boost your cell signal, it can accomplish the same thing: Whenever possible, use Wi-Fi. Make sure your Wi-Fi is turned on and you join trustworthy Wi-Fi networks when they're available, since that can avoid the need to use spotty or slow cellular.

Related coverage from Tech Reference:

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  • 'What is a good internet speed?': The internet speeds you should aim for, based on how you use the internet

  • How to find out how fast your internet is using a free and accurate Google speed test

  • 'Why isn't my internet working?': How to identify why you can't connect to the internet and troubleshoot accordingly

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