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Does Smartphone Make and Model Impact Cellular Signal?

Oct 15, 2018

Does Smartphone Make and Model Impact Cellular Signal?

Every smartphone brand claims to offer the best technology on the market, but can the make and model of your phone actually hamper connectivity? Learn the truth behind which smartphone brands are best when it comes to having a powerful signal.

If your cell phone coverage is spotty and calls keep dropping, it might not be your network's fault. The phone brand or model you use can also affect the signal, so it might be time to upgrade. To explain the factors that influence wireless connectivity, the FCC published an online guide called "Understanding Wireless Telephone Coverage". It mentions the local network architecture (i.e. the nearest cellular tower), bandwidth, and topography as influencing the signal, but it doesn't mention the phone itself. In this guide, we have explained which smartphone components have the biggest impact on your signal, including the best cell phone antenna on the market today.

Phone Brand and Model.

At the most basic level, older phones have poorer reception than newer phones. As telecommunications networks are updated from generation to generation (i.e. 3G to 4G), speeds increase dramatically. However, phones made before a certain time are not capable of tapping into the latest generation. Furthermore, the newest smartphones have built-in technology that can access certain frequency spectrums for faster service indoors. Older models do not have this ability.

This all begs the question, which smartphone is the best? Technically, the newest generation of phones from every top brand (i.e. Apple, Samsung, and Google) will all have the latest technological enhancements. From there, you can read in-depth tech reviews on sites like Gizmodo and The Verge to find out what their staff thinks about each model's signal quality. The smartphone with best reception may not be the most expensive model out there, but it is probably a recent addition to the market.

Antenna.

We have come a long way since the movie Wall Street, where Michael Douglas walked down the beach with his gigantic cell phone. Back then, the antenna stuck out about a foot in the air, making the phone look like a glorified walkie talkie. Today's smartphones are built with the antenna inside the body, which is better for portability and style. However, an interior antenna is more susceptible to being blocked by external barriers, such as a protective phone case. Some budget-priced phones also have design flaws that compromise reception when you hold the phone’s chassis a certain way. This was a much-publicized issue when the iPhone 4 debuted, but it has become relatively rare since that release.

All in all, the best cell phone antenna provides a consistently strong signal, regardless of external obstacles. Recent tests by Ireland's communications regulator (COMREG) have shown that the Samsung Galaxy S8 has incredible reception, which is measured in TRP (Total Radiated Power). On the GSM network's 1800 band, the Galaxy S8 weighed in at 23.6 TRP (also shown as "dBm"), while the iPhone 7 only had 16.6 TRP, and the Pixel had 21.0 TRP. This means that Samsung cell phones have the strongest antenna capability. We don't exactly know how or why - maybe just due to how they design their smartphones.

Operating System.

Sometimes, the smartphone with best reception can also get an edge from well-designed software, which affects how quickly your signal is relayed to the cellular tower. When an operating system update is released, the developers may decide to compromise a bit on cellular reception to improve battery life (or vice versa). Ideally, new software updates fine-tune the process and improve the phone's performance across all major metrics.

Cellular Towers.

Over the past three decades, cell tower broadcast frequencies have increased, shrinking the wavelengths that transmit the cell signal. This allows phone manufacturers to design products with much smaller antennas, without affecting the overall phone reception. In addition, engineers have designed "fractal" antennas with smaller bodies that require less power to function. Newer phones take full advantage of these network enhancements.

Network Standards.

Finally, we would like to dispel the notion that phone carrier standards (i.e. GSM, CDMA, and UMTS) have an effect on reception. While it is true that some areas will have more coverage from Verizon (CDMA) than AT&T (GSM), the actual standards don't offer different levels of service. That is all due to the density and location of cellular towers.

At SignalBooster.com, our experts want to help you achieve the best possible cell reception in every nook and cranny of your home or office regardless of your smartphone make or model. Try our risk-free phone boosters today, with a 60-day money-back guarantee and no monthly contracts. We also offer free shipping on all orders over $100.


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  • I just bought new phones for my family. Two iphone xr and two samsung galaxy 10s. We switched carriers from Verizon to Sprint and only the iphones seems to be able to send and receive text messages. The galaxy phones won’t send out texts. So, this makes me believe that the type of phone can have an impact on service.

    Margaret on
  • This article shows how you can analyze a problem (cellular signals) in general ways and in specific ways. Naturally, people are looking for the phone with the best signal so they don’t have to get a cell phone booster or software for improving their signal. Generally speaking, I think all phones have problems with cellular reception but there are specific reasons why this varies from the type of phone you may have. A person living in an area with poor reception is going to have bad reception regardless of their phone, but a newer phone may work a little bit better (although probably not much as a weak signal makes it hard for every phone).

    Josie Wendall on
  • Do cell phones lose reception over time? I’d say yes but not because the phone is breaking down. Going into this article I thought a smartphone’s make and model could affect a cellular signal. After all, if you have an older model, it might not be as efficient as a newer model. For those asking, “Why is my cell phone service getting worse,” this blog explains everything well. If you have an older phone, it might still work, but it doesn’t have the advancements that newer phones do to receive signals easier and on faster networks. Some of this is common sense, but some of it was good to learn about. Not buying a phone booster though. If my new cell phone can’t cut it, something’s wrong.

    Neil Jenkins on

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