Cell Phone Booster Antennas, Bring The Tower To You

yagi antenna

Thanks to Greg Goebel on Flickr for image use

When I think about cell phone booster antennas my first thoughts bring me back to my childhood. We would put aluminum foil on the FM radio to try and make the signal come in better. I figured if a foot long antenna is good, adding some more “antenna” would be better! Luckily it sometimes did help, other times seemed to not make any difference. That’s about as far as my antenna adventures went.

Fast forward 20 years later, cell phones have taken over the world so to speak. People are trying everything to stay in service, even in the middle of nowhere. Many folks have opted to get a cell phone booster, and the majority of the time they work. However some folks are way out in the country or just want that last ounce of performance. This is where an antenna upgrade can really shine vs the factory antenna. These can even be attached to small jetpack devices with just the antenna and no booster.

Antenna Styles:

The question is though, which antenna do I need? There is a rather large variety to choose from currently. We’ll cover all of them in depth to figure out which one you need the most.

  • Yagi Directional Cell Phone Booster Antennas:

    Yagi cell phone booster antennas

    Courtesy of nanpalmero on flickr

A Yagi antenna consists of a horizontal shaped antenna, often encased in a

triangular plastic. Yagi antenna’s are known for their high Db gains, and

directional. They are widely used in systems very far from the nearest cell phone towers. They’re consistently used in all forms of long distance radio communication. This includes TV antennas for your home, some picking signals from 60 miles away on TV sets.

A cell tower can’t be picked up from that far away under normal conditions. However it can greatly extend your reach and signal strength. Personal experience with a yagi antenna and booster have yielded very nice gains. When you’re four miles from the tower, it can increase signal equal to you sitting nearly on top of the tower. So a massive increase vs a more Omani-directional antenna.

  • Omani-Directional Cell Phone Booster Antennas:

    Omani-directional Cell phone booster antennas

    Thanks to nanpalmero for image

An Omani-Directional antenna is what you’re most likely use to seeing. Just a single vertical antenna sticking up. These pull signal equally from all directions. You may be asking why would I want this, if the other can pull in stronger signals? An Omani-directional antenna comes into play when you need to hit multiple cell towers. These are often times in multiple directions.

If you were using a yagi, any signal not in its path would be severely diminished if picked up at all. I would only use an Omani-directional antenna if I had multiple carriers in use. It may be a good option if whatever you’re attaching it to frequently moves. Such as a boat, or other vessel floating in the water.

We have a comparison video of a stock Mobile Omani antenna, vs an upgraded Omani antenna. Which has some surprising results!

  • Marine Cell Phone Booster Antennas

    Marine cell phone booster antennas

    Thanks to Peter Pearson on Flickr for image.

Many people use cell phone antennas on their boats, which is no surprise. A marine based antenna is generally omani-directional in nature. However they also must create their own ground plane. Every antenna needs a ground plane to bounce the signal off of for proper reception. The four or five prongs on the base is a home made ground plane. This allows you to use it without metal. As you can imagine boats can often times lack much metal.

As with most marine based equipment, the odds of it getting wet are high. The salt from the ocean can also damage metallic objects very quickly. That is why most marine antennas are protected by some sort of cover. The antenna is normally inside the cover, being protected from the outside elements. A standard cell phone antenna for a car is only protected by its paint, or rubber coating.

  • Trucker Cell Phone Booster Antennas

Truckers often need as much gain on their antenna as possible. However mounting a yagi antenna is not an option. Just to make matters worse, most truck antennas are mounted on the mirror. Trying to use a magnet mount cell phone antenna on a mirror will not work well. That’s why most trucker cell phone booster antennas come with mirror mounts. These mounts allow you to easily mount the cell phone Booster antennas to the mirror.

The trucker version generally is a bit larger, and has a little more gain. Much like the marine antenna, it also has an artificial ground plane. The ground plane in this case is required because the only metal below it, is a metal bar. They will also have a spring on the base occasionally to stop objects from breaking it off. It’s important to note that not all antennas are the same for trucks.

What Signal Do You Want to Boost, 4G LTE?

Every generation of cell phone technology uses different frequencies. As an example, LTE uses 700Mhz-2Ghz or more. Most people want LTE signal more than anything else. The issue arises when the antenna you buy, is only designed for 900Mhz. This will still pick up other frequencies but it will do so very poorly. So getting a wide band or “4G LTE” antenna, will work best. Having tested this before, the difference is quite large if using the wrong antenna.

Trying to use an antenna not designed for your device can also be harmful to the device and signal. As an example, using your FM radio antenna will not yield good results. There are many options on the market that are specifically designed for use with cellular devices, and these should be what you’re looking for.

The final verdict?

Depending on your situation will dictate what antenna you need. If you’re a truck driver, then the trucker antenna will work best. However the normal stubby antenna will do OK also. All you sea goers out there are going to want a marine based antenna for sure. This will hold up to the salt, and requires no ground plane on your fiberglass boat. The home owner, with a whole home booster. I would recommend a single yagi antenna. Only change to an Omani antenna if you have multiple carriers in your home.