The 7 Best Cell Phone Signal Boosters
7. weBoost Drive 4G-S
- backed by a 2-year warranty
- quickly mounts to dashboards
- cradle tends to get very hot
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
6. zBoost ZB575X-V TRIO Xtreme
- works for ios and android devices
- comes with everything you need
- periodically needs to be rebooted
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
5. Cisco AT&T Microcell
- boosts both 3g and 4g signals
- cell and gps status indicators
- supports 4 users simultaneously
|Rating||4.4 / 5.0|
4. Phonetone GSM 3G
- supports cdma wcdma gsm and more
- n-female ports on both ends
- includes mounting screws
|Rating||3.8 / 5.0|
3. SolidRF SOHO
- auto resets if there is interference
- conveniently compact size
- works straight out of the box
|Rating||4.8 / 5.0|
2. Fustar Verizon Band 13
- budget-friendly price point
- just plug in and use
- best for same room use
|Rating||4.7 / 5.0|
1. weBoost Connect 4G
- improves mobile internet speeds
- can increase cell battery life
- includes indoor and outdoor antennae
|Rating||4.6 / 5.0|
Can You Hear Me Now?
Cell phone signal boosters, also known as cellular repeaters, are a relatively new enhancement to cell phone technology. Before you purchase a cell phone signal booster there are many factors to take into account. The hardware of the booster itself, the area needing coverage, and the cell phone carrier should all be considered before you grab any old one off the shelf.
Before we continue, let's slay this myth right now: a cell phone signal booster can only amplify the existing signal. It cannot create a signal, only boost a weaker one. So before you show up to the Nevada desert thinking you'll finally get those emails handled, I must let you know that you have been warned.
A cell phone signal booster is exactly that, a piece of hardware designed to boost your cell phone signal. The booster consists of three components: an external antenna, a signal amplifier, and an internal antenna. There is a cable, as well, that connects these pieces together.
An external antenna is arguably the most important piece of the puzzle. It is designed to pull the signal from the nearest cell phone tower that your carrier supports. I'm afraid a booster won't help a T-Mobile customer latch onto one of Verizon's coveted towers.
The signal amplifier takes the signal pulled from the external antenna and amplifies it. The amplification is measured in decibels (dB), and every increase in 3 dB is technically doubling in its strength. Hence, 6 dB is twice as strong as 3 dB. The strength of the amplification depends on the signal amplifier and the signal that the external antenna was able to pick up from the cell phone tower.
The last step is the internal antenna which now re-broadcasts the new and amplified signal. At this point, your cell phone will recognize this stronger signal, resulting in fewer dropped calls, faster-loading data, etc. This will be reflected in the bars on your cell phone. Usually, each bar signifies five to ten times the amount of signal strength.
Do not forget the cable. As a general rule, you want the shortest, highest quality cable you can get. A subpar cable can and will affect your signal.
Good! Why Do I Need a Cell Phone Signal Booster?
Simply put, if your signal isn't strong enough your calls will drop frequently. Why is that happening? The first reason is that your phone is too far away from a cell phone tower. Secondly, there are obstructions in your path. An obstruction can be a tree, hill, mountain, or basically anything that comes in contact with the signal on its path from the cell phone tower to your cell phone.
Can I boost the signal without a cell phone signal booster? I'm afraid your only option is to get a booster if you plan to remain in the same location, unless you are in transit. Cars, RVs, and even boats can have boosters, though given the fast locomotion of these vehicles, the external antenna is not as precise.
First, determine the size of coverage. Some boosters are designed for small areas such as only one or two rooms. These will obviously be the most affordable options operating within a limited range. I recommend getting a signal booster that covers at least 10 percent more of the coverage area. This will ensure a safe margin.
Other cell phone signal boosters are designed for households, covering entire properties, and the ultimate booster can cover commercial properties such as work buildings or large, outdoor, wooded areas.
There are two types of external antennas: omni and yagi. The omni is an all-directional antenna, picking up equal strength in every direction. The yagi is pointed in one direction, much like a shotgun. If you know the tower is south of your location, the yagi antenna can point south for a more powerful signal receptor.
There are also two types of internal antennas: panel and dome. Panel antennas can operate and boost the new signal through multiple floors and they usually point in one direction. Dome antennas perch on a ceiling and give equal strength on all below them. They are not ideal for operating on multiple floors.
A Brief History of Cell Phone Signal Boosters
As previously mentioned, boosters are relatively new. The FCC officially endorsed cell phone signal boosters in 2013, deeming them helpful for areas lacking strong cell phone signals.
The first boosters focused on 2G and 3G networks, but obviously with the age of the internet, 4G LTE networks are today's standard. However, 2G and 3G networks are still supported.
Almost all major cell phone carriers have compatible cell phone signal boosters, though they have not made it easy. Confirm with your cell phone provider; they might change signal frequencies of their cell phones.
This industry is constantly changing. Make sure your cell phone is compatible with the booster and double check if a booster is even needed at all. Perhaps a new cell phone tower has risen close to you recently and eliminated the need. Overall, we are headed towards global coverage, and years from now, cell phone signal boosters may be a thing of the past.