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Home / Tips and Tricks / Here are our top tips for increasing your phone’s slow data connection and poor signal strength

Here are our top tips for increasing your phone’s slow data connection and poor signal strength


Fighting with a bad signal is a frustrating experience.

Angela Lang / CNET

Staring at the progress bar when the phone is trying to send a text message can be a frustrating experience, even more so when you are in a place where you normally have reliable service. Personally, I get really annoyed when it takes way too long to update my email or load a web page, all because my data connection is struggling.

And with the fact that many of us have switched to working from home or helping our children with distance learning during coronavirus pandemic Having a reliable data connection feels more important than ever, especially if your internet service goes down and you need use the phone’s hotspot function. However, there are some steps you can take to get your phone back in top shape.

Sure, you can take the proven approach of turning on airplane mode, wait a few seconds and then cycle off it. But it does not always work, and when it does not, you need to take more drastic steps, such as deleting your SIM card or resetting network settings.

Before you get to that point, we want to offer the best troubleshooting steps you can take to get your phone working at the highest performance again, from the simple to the extreme.


Left: Switch airplane mode on your iPhone. Right: The aircraft mode changes on a Pixel 3 XL.

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani / CNET

Switch aircraft mode

Switching your phone’s connection is the fastest and easiest way to try to fix your signal problems.

Android: You can swipe down from the top of the screen to display the Quick Settings panel. Tap the airplane icon and then wait until your phone is completely disconnected from its Wi-Fi and mobile connections. It does not happen immediately, so give it a good 30 seconds before pressing the airplane mode icon again.

iPhone: Open Control Center – iPhone XSeries users can swipe down from the top right corner, older iPhone models swipe up from the bottom of the screen – and tap the Airplane Mode icon. It turns orange when activated. Again, wait up to a minute before turning it off.


Left: Restart an Android phone. Right: Turns off an iPhone.

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani / CNET

Restart your phone

Our phones are miniature computers, and just like computers, you can sometimes fix problems by restarting them.

Android: Hold down the power button or the power and volume down button depending on your Android phone until the on-screen menu appears, then select restart. If your phone does not offer a restart option, hold down the power key until the screen turns black, and then turn it on again. You may also be able to turn off the phone via the settings menu (look for the Gear icon.)

iPhone: If your iPhone has a home button, you can hold idle mode until the power switch appears. Drag the slider to the right. When the device is turned off, press and hold Hibernation until you see the Apple logo.

IPhone X Series users must press and hold the side button along with either volume up or down at the same time. Eventually, the same power control will appear; slide it to the right to turn off the phone. After turning off the phone, press and hold the side key until you see the Apple logo.


Removing and replacing the SIM card in your phone takes only a few seconds.

Jason Cipriani / CNET

Remove the SIM card

Another troubleshooting step to try is to delete and then place yours SIM card back in the phone with the phone on. You need a SIM card tool – usually included in the phone box – or an unobstructed paper clip to remove the SIM slot from the phone.

All phones: Remove the SIM card, check if it is damaged and in the SIM slot correctly, then put it back in the phone.

for example: For phones with eSIM – that is the embedded electronic SIM card in your phone – there is nothing you can delete. The best thing you can do is restart your phone.

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Tips only for your iPhone

Apple’s signal troubleshooting support page has some of the tips mentioned above, but it also highlights two things to try that are iPhone-specific.

Check the operator’s settings

settings for iphone-view-carrier

View the operator settings on your iPhone to check for an update.

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani / CNET

If you’ve been using an iPhone for a while, you’ve probably seen a warning, even if only briefly, that your carrier settings are up to date. These updates help the iPhone optimize the connection.

Open to force your iPhone to check for an operator settings update settings > General > About on your phone. If an update is available, you will be prompted to install it.

Reset the network settings

iphone reset network settings

Restoring network settings on an iPhone should be one of the last troubleshooting steps you should try.

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani / CNET

Sometimes all you need is a clean slate to fix an annoying problem. Updating your phone’s network settings is another tip that Apple suggests you try.

But beware, resetting your network settings also resets all saved Wi-Fi passwords, VPN connections, and any custom APN settings for those on operators that require additional installation.

If you’m good at it, go for it settings > General > Restore > Reset network settings. Confirm your selection and your phone will restart. Just remember to connect your phone to your home and work Wi-Fi network.


Sometimes your operator is the only way to solve signal problems.

Angela Lang / CNET

Contact your operator

Sometimes unexpected signal problems can be traced to problems with your wireless operator. A cell tower may be down, or the tower’s fiber cable could have been cut and caused interruptions.

For consistent problems with hanging on and staying in a mobile or data network, it is possible that your operator’s coverage does not extend well into your area. Some operators will offer a network extender, a device that acts as a small wireless tower that depends on your Internet connection, such as AT & T’s MicroCell or T-Mobile Personal CellSpot.

Other times, a newly detected signal problem may be due to a defect in your phone or a bad SIM card. Contacting your carrier to begin troubleshooting after trying these fixes is the next best step to resolving your patch signal.


A signal booster is your last resort.

Patrick Holland / CNET

If all else fails, give it a try

If you have gone through all our troubleshooting steps, including talking to your carrier to go through your options and you are still struggling to maintain a good signal – try a booster. A signal booster receives the same cellular signal that your operator uses and amplifies it just enough to provide coverage in a room or your entire house.

It has been a while since we have reviewed any signal amplifiers, but we saw Wilson Electronics boosters consistently live up to their promise to increase the signal.

The only downside here is the cost. Wilson has three different boosters designed for home use, ranging from price to $ 399 for single room coverage, to $ 999 for full home coverage. To be clear, we have not specifically tested these models. Wilson offers a 30-day money back guarantee and a two-year guarantee if you have any problems.

With your signal problems solved, it is easy to use your phone as a mobile hotspot for a backup connection, but there are some things you need to know. If you are looking for iPhone-specific tips and tricks, check out our guide to iOS 13. And for Android fans, we have some tips to help you get the most out of Android 10.

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