iPhone Tips & Tricks: Tips to boost iPhone Signal Strength

One of the complaints from many iPhone users especially after iPhone firmware 1.1.3 has been the low and/or fluctuating signal strength resulting in poor reception and dropped calls thus leading to a frustrating experience for iPhone owners.

If you are one of those users who is facing such an issue then here are some iPhone tips which could help based on feedback from iPhone users.

The typical symptoms are as follows: signal bars suddenly drop to zero and the display shows “call failed.” As soon as the user manually ends the call, the signal strength immediately returns to normal. There are quite a few threads in Apple discussion boards regarding this issue and seems to have increased post iPhone firmware 1.1.3.

Here are some iPhone tips/fixes which should help in some cases:

Reset the iPhone:

It has been observed that simply resetting the iPhone can resolve signal strength issues.

Reset network settings:

In some cases resetting the network settings has also helped so tap Settings, tap General, tap Reset, tap Reset Network Settings.

This will restart your iPhone and will also delete any stored Wi-Fi passwords as well as DNS settings and more.

Place your SIM card again:

If your iPhone’s SIM card is not placed properly, it has been observed that it can affect signal strength.

So a good idea would be to remove your iPhone’s SIM card by pushing a straightened paper clip into the small hole on the top of the device to open the SIM tray, then check for debris inside the tray or SIM card slot, remove it by blowing into the slot or using compressed air and then placing the SIM card properly and then re-inserting the SIM tray.

The notion is that improper SIM contact can result in a weak signal, so the above procedure could help.

Restore the iPhone

Some of the iPhone users have reported that simply restoring the iPhone can also help resolve the signal strength issues.

However, it is important to note here that using this method you’ll lose text messages, notes, call history, contact favorites, sound settings, widget settings, etc which can be restored by simply doing another restore and choosing to push the backup to the phone.

Dock the phone or just attach a USB cable:

Some iPhone users have interestingly reported that docking the iPhone or attaching it to a computer via a USB cable can boost signal strength dramatically.

However, it is not certain whether this is due to the power delivery a charge boosts signal strength or as some users have reported that simply attaching a USB cable to the iPhone (without connecting to your computer) provides an instant boost in signal strength.

Give iPhone a full charge:

The reason for the boost could be due to the reason speculated in the early point.

Attaching scotch tape to the SIM card:

This is indeed the most ingenious methods, it appears that attaching a small piece of scotch tape to the outer side of the iPhone’s SIM card (the side of the SIM card that does not have metal contacts) can result in a surprising boost again borrowing from the notion that improper SIM contact can result in a weak signal.


It is important to mention here that some of the methods like
attaching the scotch tape could void your iPhone’s warranty and since I
have not tried these fixes I am not in a position to confirm either way.

Exchange for a new iPhone:

If all of the above options have not helped then the best option would be to exchange your iPhone for a new one by going to an Apple store with the signal strength complaint.

Signal Booster:

The last option if you have tried all of the above tips would be to simply buy a signal booster as some iPhone users have reported success.

In case you are one of those facing the problem of poor signal strength on your iPhone then as always do not forget to let us know if any of these iPhone tips helped in the comments.

[iPhone Atlas]

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  • CerealKiller

    Once again.

    For those having trouble with activation and getting service, deactivate your iPhone using independence, then open iTunes and your phone with show up on the side bar, then on your iPhone it will say iPhone activated, and there you go! Thanks everyone for everything!

  • CaGeDRuBy

    im still so frustrated..im going to try getting it upgraded to 2.0…but if its an unlocked phone will apple still exchange it for a new one?

  • Kelly

    Those 'signal booster' stickers are just a big rip-off. I can't believe that 'iphoneHacks.com' doesn't know that.

    Are you guys new?

  • Eric

    Uh, let's see here CagedRuby.. A signal booster is a hoax right? So taking a signal from outside a thick-walled building, amplifying the signal, and re-directing it throughout the building/room (depending on how powerful of an antenna purchased) is a rip-off? Show me your proof. I set up a $2,000 repeater for my office building (everyone uses ATT on our corporate plan) and I have full 3G bars EVERYWHERE inside. Hell, I walk outside and I only have 3-4 bars of 3G.

  • Eric

    Did not realize poster's names are on the bottom. I apologize cagedruby. I should've known a woman was trying to prove a point without any knowledge or experience or the situation.

  • Jay

    Eric, based on my read of this post, it is you that has demonstrated ignorance. I believe Kelly is referring to one of the "signal boosting" aluminum foil/stickers that can be purchased for $2.00 at your local WalMart and not a 2K signal repeater. – Your second post removed all doubt of your ignorance.

  • This company has a signal booster for the iphone that you stick on the back, I paid 19 bucks for it and it was worth every penny my bars went from 1 to 4 in the house. you can buy them at http://www.i-tena.com there is also a video of the demenstration and they have a 100% money back guarentee so what do you have to lose

  • Christopher

    iman:: do people actually buy into such an obvious (and obnoxious) advertisement

  • Christopher

    iman:: do people actually buy into such an obvious (and obnoxious) advertisement

  • nice tips. thx

  • Corky

    If none of the tricks given above work, in boosting the signal strength, it is always worth asking ATT for a new SIM card. Many times your SIM card has small dents/scratched and such which might prevent it from making good contact with the phone. A newer SIM card should take care of that.

    Just a thought and yes it worked for me.

  • Thanks Corky for that tip!

  • iRippedOff

    I-tena does NOT work…
    Don't buy it

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for this thread. I turned off the 3G network and now I get a signal in my apartment. Somehow it seems that phone reception is tied in to the 3G network, and when I use 3G I get no reception. When 3G is turned off, I get 4/5 bars. Stupid, but that's how it is.

  • philipj

    just to let everyone know the zboost WORKS. i bought it at fry's and it brought 3 bars into my whole house where i previously had NO SERVICE ! ! ! ! !i'm so happy, and can't believe it.

    however, i still experience dropped calls sometimes. and text messages aren't 100% either, they lag and service drops at times.

    however, it was well wort the 200 bucks.

  • melodie

    Holy cow…how odd, but that really did work! I guess it's trying to pull off a 3G tower right? And since I dont have a 3G tower in my area it isn't working.
    How did people survive without the internet? 😉

  • Mark

    After reading this, I also turned of the 3G network, and almost immediately I went from 1 bar to 4 bars…then it dropped. Then I thought to see what happens if I reboot.
    Still am not getting a great signal, but, at least it is now consistently at 2.

  • fjafri

    "Signal Fluctuation – Fundamental Design Flaw 3GS"
    by fjafri – 8/22/09 10:49 AM

    I don't if this applies to the 3G model as well but I have discovered what appears to be a very fundamental design flaw. Ever since I bought the 3GS I noticed that the signal strength fluctuated, frequently fluctuating between a full 5 bars and a 1 bar or nothing. I tried to find the answer to this problem on various forums with some weird explanations like attaching a USB cable or a scotch tape to the sim. Nothing I tried improved this. I noticed that it seems to drop just when you made a call and recovered immediately after the call.

    This made me wonder if it had anything to do with how the phone was being held. Some users were saying that two identical units would report different signal strengths at the same location in the same network.

    Anyway after a lot of experimenting I discovered that the iPhone 3GS appears to be extremely sensitive to being held on the lower 1/3rd part of the handset. Holding the phone in the top half recovers a full signal within a few seconds (15/20 secs)!!!!

    You can try this yourself. Putting the phone down on the table or picking it ensuring the bottom half remains uncovered seems to work. Covering the bottom half starts to drop the signal.

    The design flaw is that the receiving antenna should be placed at the top of the phone which is least likely to be covered when held. Either way it's a flaw that Apple should recognize and fix. Other handhelds don't seem to suffer from this characteristic.

  • Viktor

    The same issue is with new Nokia phones (E75, E52, E71). The antenna is located in the bottom of the phone so while talking the antenna is covered and signal drops down.

  • John Sawyer

    All models of the iPhone, from the first to the 3GS, have their antennas (both cellular phone and wifi) in their lower portion. Maybe Apple did this to reduce the radio wave signal strength that enters your head. Holding all iPhone models by their upper portion, thus not blocking the antennas, can improve the iPhone's transmission and reception in low signal strength situations. External antenna add-ons can help, because their antenna is not only better than the iPhone's built-in antenna, but also because the external antenna is located higher up, above the earpiece.

  • P.J

    I had a signal issue, it would go up and down and not let me make calls. I found that re setting the network settings helped right away!

  • Fbannister@protechs.co.uk

    Hi, thanks for the tip of holding your phone at the top instead at the bottom. I tried you experiment and it works! I find it so annoying as I purchased the 3gs and my sister purchased the less expensive 3g and she has no problem with signal strength yet I struggle all the time! It also means I cannot use the cover I purchased for it. So annoying. Fiona

  • Im sure this is useful for my iphone 4, thanx a bundle

  • Amber205a

    I know this thread is old but for some reason reading eric's post just flew all over me (I should have know A WOMEN was trying to prove…..blah blah a women???? WTF we can't help u have abandonment issues with ur mother or whatever made u a women hating pig but save the abuse for ur wife who I totally feel sorry for u male pig

  • The iPhone 3G has been nothing but a disappointment. I lose my signal in my house, (I might add, I got rid of my landline when I purchased the iPhone), so now I can neither receive or make calls in my home. There are very few places where I have a strong signal. I have done everything suggested from the Apple Store in order to resolve the signal problem, to no avail. I will try through Apple one more time to correct the problem, and then I will return to my Blackberry where I never experienced these problems. The iPhone is alot of hype, without much to back it up. Instead of continually bringing out new versions, why not correct the ones that are already in service and are a piece of junk.

  • saikumar

    hi frnds,
    this is saikumar frm india.
    i had an apple 3g iphone with 16mb.
    i had signal problem with my iphone alot.
    am facing a lot of problem with this…
    plz any one can give good sugesstions to improve the signal.
    as soon as possible…..

    • zahid

      Hi Saikumar,

      Even i am facing the same issue.
      Did you find any solution ?

  • Robbie

    hi,the antenna on the 3g and 3gs are on the underside of the charging dock which then connects to the board via a pin connector which is making a connection to the bezel(metal band around the iphone)if you lift the screen carefully you will see the piece of metal connecting to the bezel,if you make sure these are clean and bare making a good connection it should improve signal.the pin connection is located under the board just before the first screw which say do not remove.

  • Robbie

    the 3gs connects slightly different.it connects the antenna via a cable with the same push fit connector as the wifi at the other end of the board.if you lift the screen carefully and push down on the connector you will see a vast improvement straight away.then same as 3g make sure the metal from the board is touching the bezel and if you scrape the chrome away to bare metal even better.I build,repair and program iphones

    • zahid

      Hi Robbie,
      I have an ipone 3g 8gb , jail broken .
      Very recently , i am facing this issue of not rebooting properly .
      Its shows blank screen , but it’s getting connected to itunes and i can feel the vibration , when i go on silent mode.

      Sometime luckily , its rebooting properly .
      Please help to fix this issue up

  • Suprcat

    All I can say is try Opendns.com and use there dns settings and domain in your iPhone and open a free account and you will see a pages load like you never saw. Good luck 🙂

  • sandris

    yo hoo hoo attaching scotch helped to mee – all works



  • wendy

    Had the same problem, 1 bar in my house without a phone cover, put cover on and got nothing. Just found this site, turned my 3g off and now i get 4 bars without the cover on.
    Im so pleased i have a desent signal now, so thank you all for your help 🙂

  • Kazy

    Hi all,
    I’ve just gotten the iPhone 4s and im having the same problem. I have only 1 bar in my house and i cant use anything except tx or offline games. Its frustrating as im still trying to figure the phone out and feel like im being prevented from learning to use it. I tried resetting the network and will check the sim when i find a tool that enables me to open the slot. Please can any british people give me info on external antennas? Like where can i get one from? Can i get one from a store rather than the web? What is the expected price range for this product? and are there different ones for different phones? etc.
    Anyway, many thanks for any/all help 🙂

  • Kazy

    oh and im also having problems ‘syncing’ with iTunes on laptop…. Does anyone have any advice on this? Tried turning both on and off but it didn’t work. It gets stuck on syncing 7 out of 7 and when i try to cancel sync it sticks 🙁