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Thread: One to Two Bars in the Norm?

  1. #1
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    One to Two Bars in the Norm?

    I am in Southern California and it seems that two bars in quite common and that one bar is not unusual. Note that one bar is still useful on my iPhone X.

    What is the experience of other folks here regarding number of bars? Please don’t go into the bars don’t matter discussion as I am well aware of it. Thanks.

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    If it works, it doesn’t really matter. You could be latching onto a weaker and higher bandwidth AWS/PCS signal.


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    Chicago, IL
    2+46+46+46+4

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    I’m not in California but phone bars are pretty useful for me.
    When my iPhone 7 has only one bar it’s not what I would call reliable.
    2 or more bars it works excellent.
    Really wish I wouldn’t have switched to a smartphone, it’s nice for texting, taking pictures or checking the weather, other that that I preferred the old flip phone for $30 a month.

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    Perhaps Verizon's network isn't as dense in some of the areas you travel.

    I've heard that some OEM's or mobile providers artificially inflate the bars on some Android phones although I have no proof that they actually do.

    I use an iPhone 11 Pro Max on T-Mobile here in SoCal and I can tell you with confidence that I have full bars most of the time.
    “The Internet wasn’t meant to be metered in bits and bytes, so it’s insane that wireless companies are still making you buy it this way. The rate plan is dead — it’s a fossil from a time when wireless was metered by every call or text.” John Legere 1/5/2017

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    To be honest, I noticed this going from older phones with band 13 only LTE and no VoLTE (so probably showing 1x signal strength) to my present KeyOne, using band 4 (pretty regularly), 13, 2, and 5. Areas the older phone showed 3 or 4 bars, the new one showed 1. Long story short, don't sweat it.

    I found a convenient spot where I could get good (3 or 4 bar, -80 or -90 dbm) band 4, walk 5 or 10 feet and get weak band 4 (1 bar, -110 to -120), go another few feet and have it drop to band 13 (bars shoot back up because it's getting about -80 or -90 signal). So, I found I'd get whatever speed with good band 4; testing with weak band 4 or band 13 showing I get some lower speed but the speed between the two would be virtually identical. Conclusion, it is likely carrier aggregating band 4+13, and carrying most traffic on 4 when the signal's decent, and shifting more and more to 13 as the 4 signal gets low. In other words the phone can get 1 bar on one band, 4 bars on the one it's actually using, but show a 1 bar signal .

    So, really, Google and Apple should have the phone show the strongest signal it's CA'ing on, not just whichever happens to be the "main" channel, since it makes it look like you're going to lose service when you won't.

    Alternate answer: If your phone IS on band 13, I haven't been to SoCal but I know up in NE Iowa, they have the sites set up on hill tops (put up in the 1980s pre-Verizon Wireless mostly), these high spots are miles from the highway, AND miles from the small towns they cover, but do get some bar or two of service over a very large area. These rurals ites probably have pretty low interference levels, 1x (cellular band), and band 13 volte and lte data, all seem to work fine with a pretty low signal on these sites.

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    Quote Originally Posted by @TheRealDanny View Post
    Perhaps Verizon's network isn't as dense in some of the areas you travel.

    I've heard that some OEM's or mobile providers artificially inflate the bars on some Android phones although I have no proof that they actually do.

    I use an iPhone 11 Pro Max on T-Mobile here in SoCal and I can tell you with confidence that I have full bars most of the time.
    Apple's been known to inflate bars, too.

    https://www.zubairalexander.com/blog...bars-are-fake/

    Then there was the famous "Don't hold it that way". They're all guilty to one extent or another

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    Nice, now we cite clickbait blogs from nearly a decade ago to play the Apple hate game? You mean because they changed from the bars reflecting signal strength (which was the standard in 2010 and before) to signal quality they are somehow guilty of something?

    So terrible that they were forthcoming about managing expectations based on the signal meter.

    I wish I understood the world people live in where a company that increases transparency is somehow guilty of not being transparent.

    Apple Derangement Syndrome?


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    Quote Originally Posted by @TheRealDanny View Post
    Perhaps Verizon's network isn't as dense in some of the areas you travel.

    I've heard that some OEM's or mobile providers artificially inflate the bars on some Android phones although I have no proof that they actually do.

    I use an iPhone 11 Pro Max on T-Mobile here in SoCal and I can tell you with confidence that I have full bars most of the time.
    ATT does vs Verizon. On ATT even at -110 it's still showing 4 bars. Sam phone on Verizon shows 2 bars for -110. Verizon seems much more accurate and this is on a note 8.

    Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by ilvla2 View Post
    Apple's been known to inflate bars, too.

    https://www.zubairalexander.com/blog...bars-are-fake/

    Then there was the famous "Don't hold it that way". They're all guilty to one extent or another
    9 years ago. Today, my iPhones will show identical signal values to a similar Samsung, and my phone will show 2 bars where the Samsung shows 4. Same channel, nearly identical SINR and RSRQ. Apple has been more honest since I’ve used them. I think the android 7.0 or 8.0 update on the Samsung’s caused them to inflate them... right around when I left.


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    Quote Originally Posted by clonehappy View Post
    Nice, now we cite clickbait blogs from nearly a decade ago to play the Apple hate game? You mean because they changed from the bars reflecting signal strength (which was the standard in 2010 and before) to signal quality they are somehow guilty of something?

    So terrible that they were forthcoming about managing expectations based on the signal meter.

    I wish I understood the world people live in where a company that increases transparency is somehow guilty of not being transparent.

    Apple Derangement Syndrome?


    Sent from my iPhone using HoFo
    Geez, relax, it's just a company, you can bash Android and Google all you want, I hold no allegiance to them, they're corporations, not individuals. Have a Coke and a smile, and breathe

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    Remember that more bars only benefit drunks

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    Don't make me turn this car around.....

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    One to Two Bars in the Norm?

    Quote Originally Posted by CellGeek View Post
    I am in Southern California and it seems that two bars in quite common and that one bar is not unusual. Note that one bar is still useful on my iPhone X.

    What is the experience of other folks here regarding number of bars? Please don’t go into the bars don’t matter discussion as I am well aware of it. Thanks.
    Bars don’t really mean much anymore. They are only displaying the signal strength of the primary band. They don’t take account for CA-alternative bands signal strength. Also their is no rule that I am aware of that states a signal of x has to be x number of bars, so it can all be subjective.

    On Verizon I have found that typically I’m on band 4/66 (capacity-speed band) as my primary band most of the time and I only switch to Band 13 as primary as last resort. Band 4/66 doesn’t carry as far so that’s why it would show less bars compared to band 13 but it’s speed is still fine.

    Previous I suggested that carriers get rid of bars and just show “service” or “no service”. I have had calls and speed tests fail on 5 bars of service and I have broke 100 Mbps on one bar of service.

    Edit. Sorry, I didn’t see the “don’t go into the bars don’t matter part till after I commented. lol. But in all seriousness I think this is very market dependent. In the western PA market Verizon almost always shows 3-4 bars for me compared to ATT who more often shows 2-3. Verizon seems to have more towers but with less capacity.

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    Last edited by JoeInPa; 10-02-2019 at 10:32 PM.

  13. #13
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    This conversation reminds me of this video. Can you find all the bars?


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    One to Two Bars in the Norm?

    Quote Originally Posted by ilvla2 View Post
    Geez, relax, it's just a company, you can bash Android and Google all you want, I hold no allegiance to them, they're corporations, not individuals. Have a Coke and a smile, and breathe
    I’m only pointing out that linking to some guy’s blog from almost 10 years ago, which just so happens to state that Apple was back then moving to a more accurate representation of signal usability, doesn’t exactly make the case that they “inflate bars”, or that they ever did.

    And I hold no allegiances either. Just odd to me that so many people are quick to find a reason to hate on Apple for things that are demonstrably false when there are plenty of valid criticisms that could be pointed out.

    For example, iPhones do in my opinion tend to have a slightly weaker than average RF section. But I’ve owned nearly every model at one time or another except the 3G, 8, and 11 series and I’ve always found that the bars accurately reflect the usability of the received signal, even though it IS definitely weaker than many other phones, especially in fringe areas.

    I also find that most flagship Androids aren’t always the best. I usually see the best reception on bargain bin prepaid burners that only support a few bands, I assume because they are designed and tuned to work only in those specific frequency ranges. The more universally compatible flagships need to support a ton of bands, so they have antenna sections that aren’t as precisely tuned.

    Everything in life is a trade off, I suppose...


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    i'm in so cal with an S 10 5G and i have full bars. but the tower is across the street from me

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