We want to communicate and then we want to do it more often. We have employed resources that help us getting the job done. When it’s about connectivity, we want to keep it up and running at any cost. Our smartphones and other gadgets continuously sends and receives data in order to keeps us connected. But things go south at times, specifically in places where there is no good signal strength. It might be the bad weather in play, you might be sitting in an underground premises or wandering around the curve in the midst of huge buildings, getting a data connection in such instances is alchemy. At Cellistan.com we are continuously reviewing the phones and this week we are taking a look at smartphones which comes with the best and sophisticated network cards.
Signal strength of a smartphone depends upon different factors for example: Disturbance in air waves, what type of hardware is used, what type of network you are on, how you are holding the device. Yes you heard it right holding your phone also affects the signal strength I’ll explain later how.
Most of smartphones now a days have thin film antenna, in the older days they had metallic antennas, nowadays it has been replaced with thin film antennas which are very sensitive with frequencies and can support a wide range of bands. Smartphones use two set of different antennas:
- Primary cellular antennas (Transmits and receives)
- Diversity cellular antennas (Receives only)
The job of primary antenna is to determine the band availability, quality and frequency. It prepares cellphone for conversation, establish a connection between carrier and phone. It works like a relay that opens and create a channel. The primary cellular antenna will always be placed at the lower end of the device.
Then diversity antennas gear up as soon the connection is established. Both antennas are thin film antenna, primary cellular antenna however supports a wide range of bands, low bands and high bands (824-2690 MHz/2g/3g/LTE). Size of antenna has very little to no effect. Most of smartphones have conservationist antenna at back end of phone and diversity antenna at back top this because if they are near each other they will disrupt each other because primary transmits and receives while diversity only receives.
These antennas are nearly same in every phone just like everyone has ears and mouth. The thing which actually makes the difference is network card controlling the antennas. Smartphones have SOC (System on chip), network card is built in the chipset and it has a PA (Power Amplifier) which controls the frequencies being received/transmitted. To date the chip which has the best network card/PA is snapdragon (QUALCOMM) 820. Signal strength is measured in dBm (power ratio in decibels) a -80dBm is considered as the best signal quality and -100dBm is considered very poor.
We didn’t discuss how would holding your phone could possibly affect the signal strength, well our body absorb signals which is called body loss. Brain absorb more signals as compared to the rest of body(This also the reason for the primary antenna being at lower back end of phone, the further the better).So holding phone near your brain does effect signal strength, that’s why call drop rates fewer when using hands free.
We picked up the top 3 smartphones which have the best signal quality (Spoiler alert: IPhone is not in the list) and tested them for signal strength. Nexus 5 stands at 3rd spot, it contains a snapdragon 808(Older version of 820 series) same mechanics (antennas at back end, thin film etc.) the thing which makes is superior to other phones containing same chip is its active band switching, Tx and Rx controlling.
Our runner up is Sony Z5, containing the Snapdragon 810(Newer version of 808). The unique thing about Z5 is its Amazing body loss management.
Now coming to the winner, it is our much known little brother of the suicide bomber note7, yes I am taking about Galaxy s7 Edge. We don’t know for sure Note 7 might be better but we didn’t get a chance to test, well you guys know the reason. It contains the flagship of Qualcomm, A snapdragon 820, the most powerful mobile chipset ever made by Qualcomm. Unique thing about 820 is its TruSignal antenna boost. A technology developed by Qualcomm which provides best signal quality and is very intelligent in terms of power saving. It requires very less power almost 20% saving and provides better signal strength in fact the only chip to date to able to provide -80dBm under normal circumstances.
In terms of power consumption, we know for sure any network chip draws a lot of power from battery to communicate, higher bands require more power (3g,4g) as compared to lower bands (2g). How does a smartphone manage it? Well for that our phones have active switching, filtering systems. Which cuts excess power from card when lower bands can be used to do same thing, in other words while having a conversation it is said to use better words (effective ones) rather than shouting or using loud voices. Our phones does the same thing unnecessary bands are powered down to save battery. S7 edge is pretty good at power saving as well thank god not as good as note 7. Maybe S7 edge is worth a shot, I mean look at it won’t giggle if you poke em.