Use your phone’s built-in test mode as a signal meter

Reprinted with permission from Wilson Electronics

This month we’re talking about a common question in tech support–”how do I really find the signal strength on my phone?” Well, let’s address that! As you probably already know, two of the most common phones today are the iPhone and android phones. Today, we’re going to go over how to access the signal strength in both of these common phones. If you happen to have a different phone other than an iPhone or android, there are other resources available to find your signal strength. You can find a list for the other phones here.

For finding signal strength in a phone, we access it’s “test mode”. Test mode is a part of the phone’s programming that accesses data not commonly available.

To get into test mode on an iPhone, you first go to the dial mode, and type in
*3001#12345#*, and then hit call. This has put your phone in to test mode. Up where your bars used to be (top left corner), there is now a negative numerical value. This is all great and dandy, but what in the world does this number mean?! Well to give you an idea, -60 relates to being next to the cell tower, while -105 is about where you can expect to start dropping calls and seeing failed text messages. A signal of -80dB to -90dB is the recommended for using data/internet.

Test mode for an Android phone is easy as well. First, go to your System
Settings. Scroll to the bottom, and click on the About Phone button. Now, scroll to the Settings button and click on it. Your signal strength should be listed about halfway down. It has the same dB range as the iPhone (and all phones for that matter).

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.