Nothing is more frustrating than dropped calls, undelivered texts or slow mobile data. If you’re dealing with a low cell phone signal, there are a few things you can do to help improve your connection.
In this article, I’ll share 10 tips to help boost your cell phone signal. Try one or more of these to help get connected.
This article was updated in November 2023 and I review it every 12 months.
10 Ways To Get Better Cell Service
Whether you’re in a pinch for service right now or you’re facing an ongoing issue with poor coverage at home, you may be looking for easy ways to stay connected.
From the tried-and-true old tricks (like turning your phone off and back on again) to things you may not even realize make a difference (like cleaning your SIM card), this list is full of things you can try that actually improve your signal.
If you have poor service, slow internet speeds, low-quality calls or texts that aren’t sending, try one or more of these tips:
- Toggle Airplane Mode or Restart Your Phone
- Move Around or Go Outside
- Take Off the Case
- Get a New SIM Card or Clean Yours
- Switch Between 5G and 4G/LTE
- Use Wi-Fi Instead of Cellular
- Charge Your Phone
- Update Your Software
- Reset Your Phone’s Network Settings
- Buy a Cellular Booster
1. Toggle Airplane Mode or Restart Your Phone
One of the easiest ways to boost your cell phone signal is to turn on airplane mode for a few seconds. This will have the same effect as turning off your phone completely and restarting it, which is also an option.
Once your phone has connected to a nearby network tower, it stops searching for a new signal. This is done to help protect your phone’s battery. However, it does mean that your phone may not always be connected to the strongest nearby network.
If you turn on airplane mode for about 10 seconds and then turn it off again, your phone will have disconnected from the network and will have to search for the nearest, strongest connection.
This is an especially good tip if you’re on the move. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone on a short road trip and my texts and/or mobile data weren’t working well, even though I appeared to have full service. A quick restart or a few seconds in airplane mode is always the first thing I try.
2. Move Around or Go Outside
This one may seem obvious, but it’s always worth a try. If you aren’t getting great reception, move to a different location in the house or building. Better yet, step outside!
Cell phone signals are finicky, and you may find an area with better reception just steps away from where you have bad reception. For example, when I visit my grandparents, I prop my phone up in one specific window because I know that’s the only place in the house I can get a bit of signal.
Many factors play into this, but one major thing to consider is obstructions. If you’re indoors, your signal is going to be slightly weakened by the walls and ceiling. Even outdoors, some areas may have worse service due to trees or buildings blocking the signal.
This one takes a bit of trial and error, and you may feel silly running around with your phone held high in the air. But this old trick to get a quick signal boost is always worth trying!
3. Take Off the Case
As I mentioned in the previous tip, obstructions can cause a weaker signal. For this reason, if your phone is in a case, try taking it out.
Most phone cases are designed so that they won’t interfere with your cell phone’s signal. However, if your case is particularly thick or has any metal components, it may make it harder for your phone to connect to strong service.
Even though you can’t see it, your phone has an internal antenna that keeps you connected. Anything blocking or interfering with this antenna can weaken your service.
Make sure your antenna isn’t being blocked by removing any casing that your phone is in. You also may want to try holding your phone a few different ways with your hands or sitting it down entirely so as to not block the antenna yourself.
4. Get a New SIM Card or Clean Yours
If your phone and phone plan are using an eSIM, this tip won’t work for you. However, if you’re using a physical SIM card, this can be another way to boost your cell service.
Using a SIM card remover tool (or a paperclip!) you can remove your phone’s SIM card. To do this, find your phone’s SIM tray. You’ll see a small hole on one edge of your phone. Then, insert the SIM card remover tool into the hole to eject the SIM tray.
Once you find your SIM card, try removing it from your phone for a few seconds (after you’ve turned your phone off) and delicately clean it if necessary. Remove any dust or debris and carefully reinsert it into your phone. This may be able to help you boost your cell phone signal a bit.
If you have more time, or if you find that your SIM card is damaged, it may be worth ordering a new one from your service provider. This is an especially good tip for anyone who has had the same plan/provider for a long time as the SIM card has likely never been replaced.
5. Switch Between 5G and 4G/LTE
You may notice slow speeds or a weak signal even on a 5G phone while in range for premium network usage. One solution could be to disconnect from the 5G network and manually switch to 4G/LTE. You may actually be able to connect to a closer, stronger signal that runs on a different network.
To do this, go to your device’s settings. If you have an iPhone, you’ll see “Cellular,” under your settings app. Once you click that, you’ll see “Cellular Data Options.” Under this tab, you can click “Voice & Data” to choose which network you’d like to use.
Android devices will have a similar process that varies slightly based on your device. Under your phone’s settings, find “Connections,” “Wi-Fi and Internet,” or a similarly named setting. From there, you can locate your mobile network/SIM network settings.
6. Use Wi-Fi Instead of Cellular
This tip isn’t exactly a way to boost your signal, but it can help you get a stronger connection in a pinch: Try using Wi-Fi.
If your mobile data is slow, a nearby public Wi-Fi could be faster. In addition to mobile data, your phone may allow you to place calls and send text messages over Wi-Fi. Although, you might have to enable Wi-Fi calling or texting in your settings for this to work.
7. Charge Your Phone
When your phone battery is low, your phone will deprioritize searching for and connecting to the strongest available tower. Instead, it’ll be trying to preserve its remaining battery life.
In order to avoid this, make sure your phone is well-charged. You’ll have a better chance of connecting to the strongest network.
8. Update Your Software
Like many people I know, I’m not always the best at making sure my phone is up-to-date. However, if you’ve been putting off a software update, it can affect your call and text performance.
To make sure this isn’t the problem, check your phone’s settings or application store to see if there’s a software update available.
Software developers frequently send out updates to smartphone users in order to fix minor bugs, make improvements and more. If your phone isn’t running on the latest operating system, you may notice more issues with your mobile data, call quality or text messages.
9. Reset Your Phone’s Network Settings
I included this tip toward the bottom of the list because it’s a bit of a last resort. If your phone is consistently experiencing connectivity issues, restoring its original network settings could help.
Both iPhones and Android devices allow you to reset your network settings by finding a similarly named option in your phone’s settings app. Resetting your network settings isn’t a full factory reset (you won’t lose all of your contacts and photos) but it will wipe your phone’s memory of any past connections. This includes network towers, saved Wi-Fi passwords, previously paired Bluetooth devices, VPN connections, etc.
Reconnecting to all your known networks and devices can be a headache, so I don’t recommend this tip unless you have tried the previous steps first.
10. Buy a Cellular Booster
This tip is last on the list because it certainly isn’t a quick fix, and it’s the only suggestion that will cost you a bit of money. However, it is an effective solution.
If you’re dealing with consistently poor service (at home, in your car, at a relative’s house, etc.) you may choose to invest in a cellular signal booster. This is a physical device that you can set up in one specific area to amplify the cellular service used by your carrier. They typically include an outdoor antenna to pick up a nearby signal, an amplifier that boosts the signal and an indoor antenna that delivers the stronger signal where you need it. Mobile models are also available for boosting the service in your car.
I checked out the selection of signal boosters available at Best Buy at the time of writing and found 19 different options ranging from $119.99 for mobile models all the way through $1,299.99 for the weBoost complete cell signal booster kit. Amazon offered a much larger selection of cell phone signal boosters; the prices ranged between $100-$1,099 for highly-rated models.
On both websites, customers give most products an average rating of around 4 stars, which tells me that these signal boosters can really help!
If none of these tips work, or if you’re looking for a different solution altogether, it may be time to switch to a new carrier. You can check out the cell phone providers with the best service in your area here. Just know that service varies greatly from one area to the next.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to enter your address on the coverage map of any cell phone service provider you’re considering. This is a great way to get an idea of whether or not you’ll have good service.
Once you’ve found out which networks provide coverage in your area, check out our guide on the best cell phone plans and deals available now for specific recommendations. Once you’ve decided on a new phone plan and you’re ready to make the switch, check out this guide that we put together to take you step-by-step through the process.
What are your best tips for boosting your cell phone signal? Let us know in our Clark.com Community!