hi tech

Cell Phone Signal Boosters: Do They Really Work?

buy Cell phone signal booster test review

I received an odd little item the other day: The so-called “Freedom Antenna” from ARC Wireless Solutions, a simple device which promises to boost my signal quality by a factor of eight times.

But does it really work?

The Freedom Antenna, on the surface, isn’t snake oil. (I’m sure you’ve seen those little metal strips that sit on top of your battery and are supposed to reduce radiation, boost signal, increase battery life, and make you a millionaire… this isn’t one of those.) In design, it’s about the size of a hand, a copper plate inside of a plastic sleeve. A wire runs to an antenna connector (two adapters are included), which you plug into your phone.

Here’s the tricky part: Figuring out where your antenna connector actually is on your cell phone, or if you have one at all (here’s a PDF list of supported models). If you do, it’ll probably be located where it is on the Motorola RAZR: Underneath a thick, circular, rubber disc on the back of the phone. You’ll have to pry it up with a small screwdriver or a knife blade… something firm. Fingernails usually won’t do the trick. Then just plug in the antenna and you’re all set. Suction cups can attach the antenna to the back of the phone, your car dashboard, or wherever, or you can just hold it up in the sky.

So how well does it work? Alas, my results are inconclusive, largely because I live in an area that’s fairly well blanketed by five-bar cell phone signal. (I was kicking myself that I didn’t have the device on a trip to the mountains last week.) I did try using the phone with the antenna in some tricky areas: The lowest part of my concrete-covered basement, around some dead spots in my neighborhood, etc., and with the antenna voice came through loud and clear. Without it, I could still get calls out, but audio quality was only slightly worse. Still, the antenna does seem to have some positive effect.
At roughly $25, this actually might make for a good addition to your auto emergency kit, because you definitely won’t need it in the city or anywhere close to civilization. Anyone else in more rural environments given a plug-in antenna a spin on their cell phone? I’d love to hear your comments and mini-reviews.