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Thread: Signal strength with unactivated SIM

  1. #1
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    Signal strength with unactivated SIM

    If I put an unactivated BYOD SIM in a phone will I still get a valid signal strength indication in Network Cell Info Lite?

    I'm on TF(PP)/Vzw but curious what the ATT signal is like where I'm at. The phone is an LG K4 I have laying around. It lacks LTE Band 12 but has 2 and 4 and the GSM frequencies.

    Also, is there a way to check if a phone is unlocked without trying to activate a SIM in it ?

  2. #2
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    I use Network Signal Info app. From my experience, the SIM doesn't need to be active to reflect signal strength for calls. The SIM might need to be activated to turn on data. Use the app to confirm that the signal is coming from the intended carrier because it could be coming from a roaming partner, but when a TF-smartphone SIM is activated, it won't have roaming service.

    I just got a Simple Mobile Alcatel Raven yesterday and its SIM is not activated, but the Network Signal App shows T-mo signal strength. Data is turned on in the phone, but the app reported Data Service Disconnected.

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    Historically the strength meter is inaccurate with an inactIve SIM.

    As for locked SIM, usually the phone would indicate an issue if the SIM inserted won't work. Like invalid SIM or similar message.

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    Tried it. I did get the "not a Verizon SIM" message since it is a Verizon branded phone but read somewhere to ignore that if the phone's assumed unlocked. I did get a signal with the ATT SIM but a really bad (unusable if accurate) 3G only, no LTE. That may be because it lacks the low frequency LTE Band 12. Unless ATT doesn't use LTE bands for voice. My Vzw usually likes band 13 with occasional 2 or 4.
    Tried the TM SIM too...same as the ATT. (I had the ATT and TM from the 3 pack BYOD where I only used the Vzw)
    Note that the onboard OS signal strength stat wouldn't work but the Network Lite app did; even if inaccurate.

    Just an experiment for the rural area where I live. My old 3G/EVDO even on Vzw started getting bad/unusable here about 6 months ago as I guess they started cutting back.

    Thanks ST Dog and hpham.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpz1 View Post
    I did get the "not a Verizon SIM" message since it is a Verizon branded phone but read somewhere to ignore that if the phone's assumed unlocked.
    That message comes up when the phone is powered on if the SIM is not a Verizon SIM. It doesn't prevent the phone from working with the non-Verizon SIM (if it was unlocked). I believe you can swipe it to delete it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpz1 View Post
    I did get a signal with the ATT SIM but a really bad (unusable if accurate) 3G only, no LTE. That may be because it lacks the low frequency LTE Band 12.
    What LTE band showed in Network Signal Info? Not having Band 12/17 is not good for AT&T.

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    Quote Originally Posted by loboheeler View Post
    What LTE band showed in Network Signal Info? Not having Band 12/17 is not good for AT&T.
    Different versions of android (or maybe the phone model) don't show the bands in the app, so that didn't show but it was only 3G anyway. Plus that phone doesn't have 12 or 17...just the higher frequencies 2 and 4. (Plus 13, but that's Verizon).

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    For what it's worth, I noticed during testing last year that phones with a not-yet-activated TF-AT&T SIM would only lock onto 3G (UMTS/WCDMA/HSPA) signals. Once activated, the phone had no trouble connecting to LTE, including Band 12, but not being able to do so in advance made coverage testing more difficult, when I was trying to choose a network for my mother. I ended up borrowing a friend's active AT&T SIM for a day.

    In case the phone and OS matter, this was using a Motorola G5 Plus (XT1687) running Android 7.0.

    The activated phone still drops down to 3G UMTS for voice calls, since AT&T hasn't yet enabled VoLTE for non-branded and/or prepaid devices.

    I believe TF-Verizon SIMs showed similar pre-activation behavior, initially only finding 1x/EVDO CDMA signals on that network.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fetcher View Post
    For what it's worth, I noticed during testing last year that phones with a not-yet-activated TF-AT&T SIM would only lock onto 3G (UMTS/WCDMA/HSPA) signals. Once activated, the phone had no trouble connecting to LTE, including Band 12, but not being able to do so in advance made coverage testing more difficult, when I was trying to choose a network for my mother. I ended up borrowing a friend's active AT&T SIM for a day.

    In case the phone and OS matter, this was using a Motorola G5 Plus (XT1687) running Android 7.0.

    The activated phone still drops down to 3G UMTS for voice calls, since AT&T hasn't yet enabled VoLTE for non-branded and/or prepaid devices.

    I believe TF-Verizon SIMs showed similar pre-activation behavior, initially only finding 1x/EVDO CDMA signals on that network.
    Good info. This LG K4 was a pain anyway. That's why I took it out of service. Even though it's VoLTE (had it active on Vzw), it would occasionally drop to 1x/EVDO which my other Vzw VoLTEs never do (same location). Also a battery drainer and unexplained data use even with data off. Even just using 3G ATT voice at my place makes it unusable anyway. Thanks

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lisme View Post
    This is the one I believe they were discussing
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...ignalchecklite

    I prefer this one as it always shows bands/frequencies and a lot more info
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...d.ltediscovery

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    Quote Originally Posted by ST Dog View Post
    This is the one I believe they were discussing
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...ignalchecklite

    I prefer this one as it always shows bands/frequencies and a lot more info
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...d.ltediscovery
    This is the one I'm using/was referring to.
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...s.cellinfolite

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    Quote Originally Posted by ST Dog View Post
    This is the one I believe they were discussing
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...ignalchecklite

    I prefer this one as it always shows bands/frequencies and a lot more info
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...d.ltediscovery
    This is the one I'm using/was referring to.
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...s.cellinfolite

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpz1 View Post
    This is the one I'm using/was referring to.
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...s.cellinfolite
    System hiccup and posted twice sorry.....any way too delete a post?

    This one I'm using gives complete details in my E4 running OS 7.1, no bands in an LG I had running 6, worked in a 3G Moto G running 5 but there's no bands there anyway, but wouldn't even work in a 3G LG running 5.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpz1 View Post
    System hiccup and posted twice sorry.....any way too delete a post?

    This one I'm using gives complete details in my E4 running OS 7.1, no bands in an LG I had running 6, worked in a 3G Moto G running 5 but there's no bands there anyway, but wouldn't even work in a 3G LG running 5.
    Yes. Just select Edit and then Delete.

    I have used Signal Check Lite, and it does show what LTE band is being used.

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