Do Cell Phone Boosters Work?
That’s the question most people face before looking into such a device. There are various types of boosters on the market. The first ones I remember seeing were a sticker you put on the back of your phone. They claimed some rather impressive boosts in signal. Then of course you have the “homemade” variety as I like to call them, using foil on the extendable antenna. We’ll cover all of these and try to debunk some myths associated with them.
Sticker boosters have been around for a while, if you’re skeptical, I don’t blame you. The idea about these consists of a small “sticker” with an emblem on it. That emblem may or may not contain some sort of metallic material. I say that because, a “sticker” antenna could work for some things, if the inside is metal. This would basically just be a metal antenna inside a laminate cover, with a sticky backing. If I asked, do cell phone boosters work, and was shown this I would be skeptical.
The part where these types of antennas fail on cell phone is the lack of a wire. A wire directly into the phones built in antenna.The way this claims to work is somehow catching the signal with this sticker. Then somehow pushing it to the phone via the case, or “something”. The claims are interesting to say the least, the only good side is the cost. These things are super cheap, so you’re not out any money if you want to experiment.
If you decide to go this route for whatever reason be sure to judge signal via the Db readings an not bars. Bars are an extremely poor way to figure out signal strength. When you compare Db numbers to bars, it’s almost like the bars have a mind of their own. Another great way is to try speed testing in low signal areas, tests can vary quite a bit, so take several. We’ll go over the best way to judge if it’s working in a speed test section later.
Home Made Boosters
This topic can be a little broad, but I think we can cover it in a timely manner. Do cell phone boosters work, even if home made? Some folks have used tin foil on their (now old) external antenna cell phones. This in theory could work for some situations, however it could also hurt performance at the same time. Antennas are tuned to a specific frequency by their length. Cell signal can degrade if the antenna is too long, or too short. A person might think that the built in antenna is the perfect size, however it’s not. Phones today at compact, trying to fit everything in a single case.
This can be where corners are cut in the design process, or specialized antennas are build. Many times a phones antenna will be the optimal length overall, but it’s coiled to make it fit. This coiling is more of a band aid than an equal to a properly shaped antenna. If you lived back in the CB radio days (think smokey an the bandit for the younger kids) most of those antennas were not optimal in length.
A CB antennas optimal length is 9 foot long, they make them much shorter by coiling the antenna. Many antennas today will have several coils of water in the base. This tries to mimic having a true 9 foot antenna. Cell phones are no different, except they don’t require 9 foot of wire, far less due to the frequency’s used. This is where in theory, a sheet of tin foil could help or hurt, depending on if you get the length right vs the inside antenna. This would require knowledge of antennas, or pure guessing.
Home Made Boosters – Parabolic
Dish type boosters, for lack of a better word they can help but it’s really not worth it. The basic idea is to mount your phone where the satellite dishes “eye” sits. Then to aim your dish at the nearest tower, parabolic dishes work for most signals. The issue is, once you move the phone you just lost your extra signal. I don’t expect many people are going to leave their phone on a satellite dish all the time. These style dishes can also be used for long range WiFi etc. as a phone booster though, I would pass unless I was experimenting. Maybe if I really to ask, do cell phone boosters work, even the home made version.
External Antenna boosters
When people ask do cell phone boosters work we often talk about an external antenna booster, we’re really just talking about external antennas. Some mobile internet devices have external antenna ports on them. These do work, you need to buy an external antenna which can be Omani-directional, or yagi types. Yagi type being the stronger version of the two, but it must be aimed at the tower. The way it works is simple, instead of the devices internal antenna which is small and inside. It uses your now external antenna mounted outside, on your roof, or somewhere high up. This allows it to pull signal in without it penetrating through your homes walls. This can increase signal a fair amount, but you must have the antenna attached, and an external antenna port. They may require some adapters to get the antennas wire to fit properly, some will work better than others of course.
Powered Cell Phone boosters
A powered cell phone booster or amplifier is the bread and butter of cell signal boosters. These take an outside signal, amplify it and then rebroadcast it inside, or to your phone wirelessly. These are widely used in very remote places with little to no signal. These combine the greatness of an external antenna, with the benefit of creating an even stronger signal. These can show signal increase in dropped calls, data speeds, etc. A very large and noticeable difference is generally the experience. Many times you can go from no signal on your mobile device, to 4G LTE data at high speeds. They also have the benefit of boosting multiple phones at once, where an external antenna can only boost one. You could say these are the best of the best, showing what a signal booster can really do.
This has always been my go to solution for signal in poor signal locations. However it’s not for everyone, an external antenna could be useful for you. The requirements aren’t cell phone friendly though because the external jack required. Overall though this should provide a stronger signal than an antenna alone, and works well for remote locations.
A microcell is often confused with a booster, to the point I quit correcting people. A Microcell made popular by at&t uses your homes internet. It then broadcasts a cell type signal throughout your home. The difference between this device and a legitimate booster is how the signal is produced and used. The Microcell creates a small miniature tower in your house so to speak. It then hooks into your internet and shoves everything using your home internet connection. A booster takes signal from a cell tower, and boosts it throughout your home. Everything you do is using the tower, instead of your homes internet. You can read more about microcells here.
Do Cell Phone Boosters Work – The conclusion
The question that people always ask me is, do cell phone boosters work and my answer is always yes. They work great for many people with many uses. They may not work for everyone in the most extreme cases of signal loss. It would take an extraordinarily tall tower for some locations. However for most of us, the results are very pleasing for some types. The external antenna if you meet the requires is nice, and the powered booster are even better. Other types can leave you asking if it’s working at all, and for good reason. A cellular booster can cover many carriers with a single device. We break it down into which one you can use in our Wilson cell phone booster by carrier quick guide.