Tips to Improve Your Cellular Connection

Replace bars with signal strength.

Know where the cell towers are located.

Use Airplane Mode to establish a better connection to the tower.

Use cell boosters when needed.

The first step to understanding cell phone signal strength is to have a way to get an accurate reading of what your signal strength actually is. Most people use the signal bars to determine what their signal strength is, but did you know there are no standards for signal bars? I can put my iPhone next to Tami’s Android phone and there can be as much as 2-3 bars difference depending on where we are. So what this tells me is that this is not an accurate means of determining true signal strength. We need to get the bars to a more precise signal reading.

So to replace those bars with the actual signal reading on an iPhone, you will need to put it into test mode. To put the iPhone into test mode you will simply dial this number: *3001#12345#*. Yes, you actually enter this number as if you are dialing someone on the phone, and then you actually click the call button once the number is entered. This will put you into test mode and you will notice your bars are gone and it is replaced with a signal rating; more on what the signal rating means later. If you want to always see the signal rating instead of bars (This is what I do), then while in test mode simply press the iPhone power button for about 5 seconds, then press the home button for 5 seconds. Now you will be back at the home screen and the bars will be gone, replaced by an accurate signal rating.

To see the actual signal rating on an Android, go to: Settings > About Phone > Status >Sim Card Status. Now you will see the signal rating. I am not aware of a way to put an Android permanently on the signal rating, but Android has a great free app called “Network Cell Info Lite”. This app will give you everything you will want to know about your signal strength, and I highly recommend it for Android users.
Now that you have your device reading a more precise signal strength, what does this mean. Well, you will see your signal strength as a negative Dbm number. Without getting all technical, just know that the closer you get to zero, the better your signal strength. So a -70 is better than a -100. In fact, if you are -100 or lower, then you are in a poor cell zone, while approaching -50 is great signal. You will never reach zero, but this should give you an idea of what is good and not good.

Now that we are reading numbers that matter, let’s talk about some things you can do to get better signal.

If you are not super concerned about signal, and would just like to improve the signal for a quick phone call, then the first thing I would do is walk outside of my RV. Often times just getting outside of the metal box can do wonders, or at least get you enough to make a call. Knowing where the cell tower is can be helpful in a RV as well. If the cell tower you are connected to is behind your RV as opposed to in the front of your RV, and depending on where your windows are, this can make a difference. There is a cool app called “Open Signal” and this will tell you exactly where the cell tower is that you are connected to. Just download the app, click on it, and it will point to the cell tower, kind of like a compass. You can also display a map of all of the towers around you, and from the different providers. This can be helpful if you have different carriers on board so you know which one may be best. Once you know where the tower is you are connected to, then you may realize that being on that side of the RV that the tower is on gives you a little better signal than the other side. Knowing where the cell tower is in relation to your RV can also be helpful if you are using an outside antenna for boosting cell signal, especially directional antennas.

One of my favorite quick tips that can sometimes give you decent signal gains is to reestablish your connection with the cell tower. Sometimes you may not even be connected to the closest cell tower, or maybe the signal to the tower you are connected to needs to be somewhat rebooted. This is easy to do, and can be done with tablets, cell phones, and even cellular hot spot like Jet Packs. To reconnect to the closest cell tower just turn on airplane mode, wait for about 10 seconds, then turn airplane mode back off. By doing this you will break the connection with the cell tower and then re-establish the connection. I have seen some very nice signal increases by doing this. I usually do this at least once a day because it is super easy and I can usually get some instant gains. You can see the increases now that you have the signal strength showing on your phone. Go ahead, give it a try.

Now, if you are someone that really needs more consistency in your cell signal while on the road, then you are going to need to invest in a cell booster. A cell booster will have an outside antenna that will pull in the weak cell signal, then it will run the weak cell signal though an amplifier to increase the signal strength. After the signal strength is boosted, then the system rebroadcasts the stronger signal within your RV through an inside antenna. It is like bringing the cell tower inside your RV. We use a WeBoost 4G-X RV cell booster almost weekly. If you would like some one on one time with us to discuss your connection needs then you can call us at 866-324-7915, or email us at We discuss options with RVers every day and are very familiar with the obstacles you face on the road.

Since there are so many variables on the road there is nothing that is 100%, but with these methods you can certainly increase your positive experiences dramatically.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.