How to Boost a Cell Phone's Signal

By Paul Seaburn

We carry our cell phones wherever we go and expect the signal to be strong when we need it. A weak or nonexistent cell phone signal can be annoying, distracting and sometimes even dangerous--think of the stories of lost campers rescued only because they were able to use their phones. We've all noticed how a phone's signal strength changes as we move around, and that can give a temporary boost to get you out of a jam. For a more permanent boost to signal problems where the signal is constantly weak, extra equipment is needed. There are a variety of options. Most are easy to use and the equipment is available at electronics stores, cell phone dealers and on the Internet.

Step 1

First, try changing your location. Office buildings and houses can cause problems with signals that go away when you move around or step outside. Outdoors, move to higher ground and away from buildings, electrical lines or transmission towers. Weather conditions can also affect signals, so you may have to wait for a lightning storm to pass.

Step 2

Fully charge your cell phone's battery. If the battery doesn't seem to be holding a charge as long as it used to or as long as the owner's manual suggests, buy a new one.

Step 3

If your cell phone has an antenna, make sure it's fully extended or folded out. If the antenna feels loose or wobbly, take it to a dealer to be repaired or replaced.

Step 4

Your phone's little antenna can be helped with an external antenna that mounts to the outside of your house or apartment. Make sure you get the correct adapter to attach your cell phone model to the external antenna.

Step 5

Amplifiers, also called power boosters, plug into cell phones and are powered by electrical outlets or car cigarette lighters to amplify the signals going in and out of a cell phone. Usage is limited to the length of the cord plugged into the outlet.

Step 6

Wireless repeaters are an expensive option for when all else fails. A repeater picks up the cell signal via an outdoor antenna and then repeats it indoors using an indoor antenna. No wire to the cell phone is required.

Tips & Warnings

  • Check with your cell phone's manufacturer. Many companies sell signal-boosting equipment designed specifically for their phones.
  • Avoid stick-on patches advertised as signal boosters. These have not been proven to work.Avoid do-it-yourself options that require opening your phone, rewiring and/or soldering. These can void your manufacturer's warranty.