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I do not have the best signal on my Galaxy S4. I have had a recommendation on downloading a Signal Booster App.

  1. How do they work (or do they work at all)?

  2. Are there ways to boost my signal strength without an app?

Note: I am referring to 4G Signal Strength. My signal strength ranges from -107 dBm 33 asu to -113 dBm 27 asu.

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To be honest - the part that got me sceptical - that it doesn't waste battery power as you improve signal! If it claims to improve signal, it surely must be sucking juice? all the telephony layer is proprietary and closed-source, cannot see how that would work...is it faking figures somewhere..? do not know, I cannot really vouch nor say either... it reminds me of an app in which by shaking it you gain more battery juice - just saying... –  t0mm13b Aug 8 '13 at 21:53
@t0mm13b - After browsing this site this answer indicates that it "improves" your signal by toggling airplane mode on and off. Thus reconnecting you to the network. But do all work this way? –  Lynda Aug 8 '13 at 21:59
Well, by toggling airplane mode on/off is counter-productive as the time to take to switch off the signal (Wifi has higher priority than telephony) and back on again disrupts the signal scanning, and not to mention say, downloading a short youtubey over 3G/4G for example, will require a restart... –  t0mm13b Aug 8 '13 at 22:17
@t0mm13b the idea behind it is to force the device to re-scan and connect to the "strongest available signal". If you e.g. have a moderate signal, but there would be a slightly better signal source in reach, the device usually doesn't always switch by itself. But when initializing (and thus not having any signal yet), it uses the strongest one. So to the user, it seems to be a "signal boost" – while in fact it was just a switch to a different tower. –  Izzy Aug 8 '13 at 22:52
@Izzy thanks for the insight... its more of taking a gamble really with which tower has the more stronger signal which may decrease after connecting? –  t0mm13b Aug 8 '13 at 22:54

1 Answer 1

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Summing up from my comments above:

How do signal boosters work?

They work by forcing the device to do a re-connect. Though the device is permanently watching its neighborhood (for the case the signal gets too weak), it does not switch for just a trifle. Instead, it tries to weight the benefits against the costs: switching to a different cell has some signalling overhead to be considered. So if it's just for a trifle, it wouldn't switch. But if the other signal source is twice as strong, for example, it would. And it certainly does switch once you lose signal, even if there's just a weak signal available to switch to.

If it switches, it always choses the best and strongest signal available. And as I said, when you lose your signal it does switch: that's exactly the concept of the booster. By going to airplane mode, it makes you lose the signal, so switching on the radios makes the device connecting to the strongest signal. If your lucky, you see one more bar. If there was just one cell available, you just wasted juice.

IMHO it's not really worth it, but everybody needs to decide that himself/herself. Improvements are rather marginal/cosmetical in most cases, if at all.

Ways to boost without a booster

Well, if you followed my above writing, you might already have guessed it: Long-press your power button, and select "airplane", then do it again. Or, open your notification bar and tap the plane icon, and repeat it. Done. The difference is you need to do it manually – while the app at least partially automates it (maximum one tap with the app, while 4 manually).

Further hints

There are apps available which track cell signals. Some do even track the neighboring cells (most of them only work with selected devices). If you find one that does work with neigboring cells and your device, you should be able to tell the real numbers – and see if it would be worth to "boost", or if it rather would be to "boast" :).

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Also, switching to airplane mode and back again in the hope of latching on to a "stronger" signal could actually have adverse effect on battery juice as well due to "bringing up" the telephony layer... –  t0mm13b Aug 8 '13 at 23:55
Thank you very much, I feel much smarter. => –  Lynda Aug 9 '13 at 5:19
@t0mm13b thanks for the detail: that's what I meant by "weighting the benefits against the costs". And Lynda: Glad I was able to help shedding some light :) –  Izzy Aug 9 '13 at 6:38

protected by Matthew Read Feb 5 at 15:40

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