4 Tricks to Improve a Bad Phone Signal

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Frustrated woman looking at smartphone with a bad signal or suspicious message
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Dropped calls, spotty service, freezing videos, internet errors — anyone with a phone is familiar with the frustrating signs of a poor signal.

There are plenty of suggestions out there for how to fix the problem, but it can be hard to tell what is myth and what is legitimate.

Following are some proven tricks to improve a bad phone signal.

1. Toggle airplane mode on and off

Person holding an iPhone
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Airplane mode has its uses on the ground, including when you want to save the battery. It does that by shutting off access to network connections.

This means that toggling it off, waiting a few seconds and toggling it back on is also an efficient way to make your phone search for the best connection available. Instead of sticking with a cell tower that your device may have been closer to earlier, it’s forced to freshly consider the options at your current position and may find a better one.

2. Use Wi-Fi when possible

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Wi-Fi doesn’t technically boost a bad cellphone signal, but it’s an alternative that does most things you’d want a cellular connection for, including making calls, sending messages and using the internet. Because Wi-Fi has a much shorter range than a cell tower, you’ll often be closer to Wi-Fi and may find it provides more reliable connections.

One downside, though, is that Wi-Fi may be less secure. Though the risk is lower than it used to be, it’s best to avoid sensitive tasks like accessing your bank account while on Wi-Fi unless it’s your home network or one you know to trust.

3. Charge your phone

Person with a dead phone battery and uncharged laptop and smartphone.
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We know a bad signal will drain your battery faster than a steady connection, as your phone frequently searches for a better one. This problem can quickly snowball because your phone has less energy to devote toward finding networks.

IPhones in low power mode disable 5G, new email checks, downloads and similar background tasks. Android phones have similar settings called Battery Saver mode.

While you can manually disable low-power settings, keeping your phone well charged will help ensure the best signal.

4. Go outside

Excited smiling woman wearing glasses and looking at smartphone for happy news
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Obstructions such as buildings, hills and other physical barriers weaken your phone signal, Verizon says. This is particularly noticeable in tunnels or underground where service often cuts out completely. But it can be an issue inside buildings as well, particularly if you’re not near open windows (glass can also absorb or reflect the signal) or the outer wall.

The ideal situation is one in which you have a clear line of sight to a cell tower. That generally requires being outside, and preferably above trees and most buildings.

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