Mike asked: “I own an iPhone 5 and would like to know is there any way to make the antenna stronger. I live way out in the country and get poor reception.”
Unfortunately the antenna itself is as strong as it’s ever going to get, but there are a few things you can try to boost your signal.
First of all, we should mention there are some stickers in the market that claim to act as an antenna to help your phone’s built-in one. One we know of but haven’t tested is called ReachAntenna.
Again, we haven’t tested these, but we’re skeptical. And going by reviews, we’re inclined to tell you not to even bother with these.
There are cellphone signal extenders for both cars and homes that have a better track record. WeBoost sells extenders for cars called the Drive 4G-S, and Drive 4G-X, they also make extenders for your home, but they will typically require permanent installation, and that you have a signal to boost in the first place, if you get no bars, this won’t help you.
You can also talk to your cell phone service provider and see if they have an devices that you can install at home that can act as a mini cell phone tower. Typically, these transfer data via your home internet connection and they use GPS to learn where they are so they can hand off calls to real tower when you leave.
These devices are technically called picocells, but AT&T calls their version MicroCell, but that’s just a trademark, it’s the same type of device.
If you happen to be open to upgrading your iPhone, every iPhone that came after your version can do WiFi calling on networks that support it. If your network does, you wouldn’t have to do anything but turn on the option in the settings. Then whenever you’re around a WiFi network that can handle it, your phone would just route calls through WiFi. You would just answer and make phone calls, and send text messages exactly as you do now. I just upgraded to the iPhone 6 on T-Mobile and the Wi-fi calling is my favorite feature. I get very low signal at my home, but good wi-fi, so I can still make and receive phone calls without a problem.
Please note that if you do engage WiFi calling, your phone will likely give you an ominous warning about something called E911 and make it sound as though you’re certain to die if there’s ever a problem.
The issue is that WiFi calling doesn’t send any location information. So if you dial 911 and you are unable to speak for whatever reason, they won’t know where you are. So the E911 information gives them the most likely address (home, typically) and they’ll send help to that location. It’s not perfect but it’s better than nothing.
However, the notice makes it sound much, much worse. So we wanted to have you prepared if that’s the way you choose to go.