Accurate Signal Strength Reading of Your Android Phone, in Decibels.

Posted by on August 15, 2014

Android signal strength in decibels

Field Test Mode: It can be very useful knowing an accurate signal strength in decibels, that your phone's receiving at any specific time. It could be that you're attempting to make a call and it won't go through to your intended recipient; or maybe emails, texts or posts arrive back in your inbox hours after you have sent them. Therefore, knowing your signal strength can help in cases like these to determine why you did not get the service you expected to get, and to take necessary action so it does not occur again.

We know that all phones have the "bars" graphic display on the Home screen, and this is supposedly so you can determine your cell phone's signal strength. Unfortunately, the issue with the bars representation is that there are no standards to comply with. The accuracy of the bars graphic varies widely between phone models, operating systems, and devices from different manufacturers.

Therefore, it is best not to rely on the bars graphic on your Android device, but rather view the actual signal strength reading of your phone. Your device's three bars could easily represent a stronger signal than my phone's four bars; but there's no real way of knowing this unless we locate the screen on our device that displays the real signal strength reading in decibels: This is abbreviated as dBm. Decibels are a standard unit of measure, so by accessing our device's decibel reading we can know for sure the strength of the signal we're receiving.

Locating Your Android’s Signal Strength Reading in Decibels

With Android phone models, the user can view the signal strength reading by navigating the devices menu tree. The process of finding the dBm menu screen will vary across manufacturers, models, and different versions of android OS. However, a typical navigation sequence should be:

Settings –> About Phone –> Status (or Network). On this screen, view Signal Strength (or Network Type and Strength).

Alternatively, some Android phones have a navigation sequence as follows:

Settings –> More Options (or More Settings) –> About Phone –> Mobile Networks. On this screen, view Signal Strength.

Experiment a little with the menus on your Android phone and you should be able to locate the dBm reading. However, if after following the above instructions, you're still having difficulty locating the signal strength reading, you should study the operations guide that came with your device, or contact the phone manufacturer's customer support number.

An alternative method of locating this information is to use a search engine with the term, "Field Test Mode" or "Signal Strength Reading" in the search field and make sure you include your specific phone model.

Other Important Information related to Field Test Mode

• The dBm is usually expressed as a negative number, for example -88. Note that some phones may leave out the negative (-) sign, so the reading will show as 88 dBm, instead of -88 dBm.

• The cell phone signal is stronger the closer to zero the reading is. For example, a -78 dBm reading is a stronger signal than a -87 dBm reading. The strongest signal you will see is a reading of -50; so that means when a signal is weaker than -100 dBm it’s a very weak signal. You probably won’t have any service if the signal gets weaker than that.

• Signal strength readings can differ between 4G and 3G networks; However, we will cover this at another time, in another blog post to prevent confusion.

• Your Android phone can only read one network at any one time. Your phone will display the default dBm reading if you have 4G network access. The reading will default to 3G if there is no 4G service.

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