I'm trying to figure out where a new phone gets a signal before I activate it, since they won't let me return it once I do. I've got a Tracfone V170 and so far it looks like no signal strength anywhere.
Does it require activation to see the signal strength?
yes, it requires activation because it needs to be registered with a provider so the cell towers can see the phone. If the phone is unlocked and you have a sim card that works with the phone already activated, otherwise you need to activate the card.
From the details of tracphone, it is pay as you go phone.