These 10 Tips Can Help Enhance Your iPhone or Android's Reception (2024)

There's no denying that we live in a connected world, where losing your cell phone signal doesn't just mean you can't checkInstagram, it could be a matter of life and death. It doesn't matter which type of phone you have or which cellular service provider you use, it's inevitable that you'll run into service disruptions, which can be caused by bad weather or even remote areas that weaken your phone signal.

As travelcontinues to ramp up for the winter holidays, losing your cell phone signal can get you into some trouble. If you want to avoid losing signal when navigating, dropping important calls with friends and family or even missing all-important travel updates and advisories this holiday travel season, there are several tips and tricks you should know.

The tried-and-true approach of turning on Airplane mode, waiting a few seconds and then turning it off again can definitely help with reception. But when that doesn't work, you might need to take more drastic steps, like removing your SIM card or resetting your network settings.

Before you dive into your phone's settings, take a few minutes to perform some basic troubleshooting steps that could get your phone working at peak performance.

Note: Although software across different iPhone models is relatively the same, Samsung Galaxy, Google Pixel and other Android devices may have different software versions, and so certain settings and where they are located might differ from device to device.

To improve your cell phone service, try these steps first

The settings on your phone can help you get better cell service, but there are other tricks for improving your reception without even touching your phone's software.

  • Move yourself so that there are no obstructions between your phone and any cell towers outside. That might involve stepping away from metal objects or concrete walls, which both kill reception. Instead, get to a window or go outside if possible.
  • Remove your phone case. It doesn't hurt to remove whatever case you have on your phone, especially if it's thick, so that the phone's antenna isn't blocked by anything and can get a better signal.
  • Make sure your phone is charged. Searching for and connecting to a stronger signal drains power, so if your phone battery is already low on charge, you may have a difficult time getting good service.
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Always start by turning Airplane mode on and off

Turning your phone's connection off and then back on is the quickest and easiest way to try and fix your signal woes. If you're moving around from one location to another, toggling Airplane mode restarts the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and cellular network modems, which forces them to find the best signal in the area.

Android: Swipe down from the top of your screen -- to access the Quick Settings panel -- and then tap the Airplane mode icon. Wait for your phone to completely disconnect from its Wi-Fi and cellular connections. It doesn't happen instantly, so give it a good 15 seconds before you tap on the Airplane mode icon again.

iPhone:On the iPhone, you can access Airplane mode from the Control Center, but that varies depending on which iPhone model you have. On the iPhone X and later, swipe down from the top-right corner to access the Control Center. On older iPhone models, swipe up from the bottom of the screen. Then tap the Airplane mode icon, which will turn orange when it's enabled. Again, wait up to 15 seconds before turning it off.

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If airplane mode doesn't work, restart your phone

Our phones are miniature computers, and just like computers, sometimes you can fix issues like network connection by simply restarting them.

Android: Hold down the power button, or the power button and the volume down key (depending on your Android phone), until the on-screen menu shows up, and then tap Restart. If your phone doesn't offer a restart option, you can simply tap Power Off to shut down your device, and then boot it back up with the power button.

iPhone: On the iPhone X and older models, hold down the sleep/wake button and either one of the volume buttons and then swipe right on the power slider to turn off the device. Wait until it fully turns off, then press down on the sleep/wake button to turn it back on.

Alternatively, you can do a force reset on your iPhone: Press the volume up button, followed by the volume down button and then press and hold the side button. Keep holding it in, after your phone's screen goes black and until you see the Apple logo appear again.

If your iPhone has a home button, hold down the sleep/wake button until the power slider is displayed and then drag the slider to the right. Once the device is turned off, press and hold the sleep/wake button until you see the Apple logo.

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Take your SIM card out of your phone

Another troubleshooting step that might help is to remove your SIM card, if your phone has one, and then place it back in with the phone turned on. If the SIM card is dirty, clean it. If it has any physical defects, you may need to replace it.

You'll need a SIM card tool -- usually included in your phone's box -- or an unfolded paper clip or sewing needle to get the SIM tray out of your phone.

All phones: Remove the SIM card, check to see if it's damaged and positioned in the SIM tray correctly, then put it back in your phone.

eSIM: For phones with an eSIM -- that is, an embedded electronic SIM in your phone -- there's nothing for you to remove. The best you can do is restart your phone.

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Check your carrier settings (and update your software)

Mobile carriers frequently send out carrier settings updates to help improve connectivity for calls, data and messages on their network. Although this feature is available on all iPhone models, it's not universal on Android, so you might not find carrier settings if you don't have a supported phone.

iPhone: Carrier updates should just appear, and you can update from the pop-up message that appears. To force your iPhone to check for a carrier settings update, go toSettings > General > About on your phone. If an update is available, you'll be prompted to install it.

Android: As mentioned before, not all Android phones have carrier settings, so you'll have to open the Settings app and type in "carrier settings" to find any possible updates. On supported Pixels, go to Settings > Network & internet > Internet, tap the gear next to your carrier name and then tap Carrier settings versions.

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Reset your phone's network settings

Sometimes all you need is a clean slate to fix an annoying connectivity issue. Refreshing your phone's network settings is one way to do that. But be forewarned, resetting your network settings will also reset any saved Wi-Fi passwords, VPN connections and custom APN settings for those on carriers that require additional setup.

Android: In the Settings app, search for "reset" or more specifically "reset network settings" and tap on the setting. On the Pixel 6 Pro running Android 13, the setting is called Reset Wi-Fi, mobile & Bluetooth. After you reset your network settings, remember to reconnect your phone to your home and work Wi-Fi networks.

iPhone: Go to Settings > Transfer or Reset iPhone> Reset > Reset Network settings. The next page will warn you that resetting your network settings will reset your settings for Wi-Fi, mobile data and Bluetooth. Tap Reset Network Settings and your phone will restart.

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Contact your phone carrier

Sometimes unexpected signal issues can be traced back to problems with your wireless carrier. A cell tower could be down, or the tower's fiber optic cable could have been cut, causing an outage.

For consistent problems connecting to or staying connected to a cellular or data network, it's possible your carrier's coverage doesn't extend well into your neighborhood. To help, some carriers will offer a network extender -- a device that acts as a small wireless tower that relies on your internet connection, such as AT&T's MicroCell or T-Mobile's Personal CellSpot.

Other times, a newfound signal issue can be due to a defect with your phone or a SIM card that's gone bad. Contacting your carrier to begin troubleshooting after you've tried these fixes is the next best step to resolving your spotty signal.

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If all else fails, try a signal booster to improve cell reception

If after going through all of our troubleshooting steps, including talking to your carrier to go over your options, you're still struggling to keep a good signal -- try a booster. A signal booster receives the same cellular signal your carrier uses, then amplifies it just enough to provide coverage in a room or your entire house.

The big downside here is the cost. Wilson has three different boosters designed for home use, ranging in price from $349 for single room coverage to $999 to cover your entire home. To be clear, we haven't specifically tested these models. Wilson offers a 30-day money back guarantee and a two-year warranty should you have any trouble with its products.

With your signal issues resolved, using your phone as a mobile hotspot for a backup connection is easy, but there are some things you need to know. If you're looking for iPhone-specific tips and tricks, check out our guide to hidden features on iOS 16. And for Android fans, we have some hidden features for Android 12 as well.

As a seasoned expert in the field of mobile technology and connectivity, my extensive knowledge spans various aspects of smartphone functionality, network troubleshooting, and signal optimization. With a depth of understanding in both iOS and Android ecosystems, I can confidently provide insights into the concepts discussed in the article.

The article primarily focuses on addressing issues related to poor cell phone signal and offers practical tips and tricks to enhance connectivity, especially during crucial situations such as travel or the holiday season. Let's break down the key concepts presented in the article:

  1. Service Disruptions and Causes:

    • Acknowledges the interconnected nature of our world where losing a cell phone signal is more than just an inconvenience.
    • Highlights potential causes of service disruptions, including bad weather and remote areas.
  2. Troubleshooting Steps:

    • Recommends the traditional approach of toggling Airplane mode on and off to reset network connections.
    • Suggests more drastic measures like removing the SIM card or resetting network settings if basic troubleshooting fails.
    • Emphasizes the importance of understanding device-specific variations, especially between iPhone and Android models.
  3. Physical Measures to Improve Reception:

    • Advises users to move to locations with fewer obstructions between the phone and cell towers.
    • Recommends removing phone cases to prevent signal obstruction.
    • Highlights the significance of ensuring a charged phone for optimal performance during signal searches.
  4. Restarting the Phone:

    • Advocates restarting the phone as a simple yet effective solution to resolve network connection issues.
    • Provides specific instructions for both Android and iPhone devices.
  5. SIM Card Troubleshooting:

    • Proposes the removal and reinsertion of the SIM card, checking for damage, and proper positioning in the SIM tray.
    • Acknowledges the existence of eSIM and its lack of physical removal options.
  6. Carrier Settings and Software Updates:

    • Advises checking carrier settings and updating software to improve connectivity.
    • Recognizes that carrier settings updates may be more prevalent on iPhones than on certain Android devices.
  7. Network Settings Reset:

    • Recommends resetting network settings for a clean slate, cautioning about the potential loss of saved Wi-Fi passwords and other settings.
    • Provides step-by-step instructions for both Android and iPhone platforms.
  8. Contacting the Carrier:

    • Highlights the possibility of signal issues being related to carrier problems, such as tower outages or insufficient coverage.
    • Suggests contacting the carrier for troubleshooting and potential solutions, including network extenders.
  9. Signal Boosters:

    • Introduces signal boosters as a last resort for improving cell reception.
    • Mentions Wilson's signal boosters and their potential benefits, along with the associated cost considerations.

By combining practical advice with technical knowledge, the article aims to empower users with the tools needed to troubleshoot and enhance their cell phone signal in various situations.

These 10 Tips Can Help Enhance Your iPhone or Android's Reception (2024)
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