Boosting and Displaying Actual Signal Strength on the iPhone

iPhones are thinner and faster than ever, but occasionally there are still issues related to signal strength. There are several ways you can try to boost your signal, but because there are many variables that dictate signal strength, the results are likely to be hit or miss depending on your situation, device and location. Displaying the signal numerically rather than in bars will at least allow you to monitor coverage so you can determine when and where to make your calls.

Buy a Special Case

Earlier this year a California company claimed to have created an iPhone 6 case that ends the era of poor mobile reception. The Reach79 case has a built-in antenna that is allegedly provides faster data speed, longer battery life, and better cellular coverage. The case has a micro-thin, gold antenna embedded in the case which is engineered to join with iPhone’s antenna, a process called “passive coupling.”


Does this actually work? The testing team from Mac Rumors found that the performance was inconsistent. In some instances the case clearly boosted the signal, but at other times it seemed to have no effect or even degraded the signal strength. However the team did show marked improvement when the signal was tested in an area where there was normally no AT&T signal. Reach79’s own research is available on the company’s website. The Reach79 case is available on the company’s website for $59.99 (iPhone 6) or $69.99 (iPhone 6 Plus).

Some people have reported that removing your iPhone case can boost the signal. That’s because some cases can slightly dampen the mobile signal.

Change Signal Strength Display

In the old days, we were all accustomed to relying on the “bars” in the left hand of our flip phone screens. The signal strength bars would allegedly tell us how strong our cell phone signal was at any given location. Alas, on many phones the bars have disappeared or become pretty useless. Since cell phone coverage is much more reliable almost everywhere, we probably check signal strength less than we used to. That doesn’t mean that we don’t need to know the relative signal strength for our devices, however. If you have ever been on vacation in a remote area, near the water, or up in the mountains, you have probably experienced this issue.

Thankfully there is a tweak that shows your actual signal strength on the iPhone. This tweak will change the display from bars to numbers, a much more useful reading. To do this, go to your phone app on the Home screen. In the keypad, dial this code- *3001#12345#* – and then press call. That will bring up your Field Test screen. By now your signal strength symbol will have morphed into a number.


To keep the numerical display, hold down the power button while your phone is still in Field Test mode. When the Slide to Power Off screen appears, press the home button rather than sliding off. Your iPhone will then stay in Field Test mode until you repeat the steps to actually turn your phone off. You can toggle the numbers off by tapping on the numbers.

The lower the number, the weaker the signal. When your phone is running at -80 or above, that’s considered like having five bars. Anything between -81 to around -104 is considered mediocre. If the signal strength is below -105, you know your signal is not very good.

Wait for 5G

The good news is that 5G is coming, which promises to bring more speed and power to our wireless networks. 5G will be about 66 times faster than 4G. This will completely revolutionize signal speed, data transfers, augmented and virtual reality and the number of network-connected devices.

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