Honestly, when I asked CellRanger if we’d be able to test their cellular phone booster, I made the request was with a lot of internal joking about whether it would work. We’ve seen all the $9.99 cell booster scams doo-dads that you are supposed to tape to your cell phone battery and receive an instant boost in signal. To say that everyone here was skeptical that this device would do anything except use electricity was an understatement. I’ve been testing this for the last few weeks with my iPhone 3G.
Because my house is in a strong signal area and CellRanger recommends you be within a 6 foot “optimal range” of the base, I’ve only tried this in the car when at known low signal areas. Yesterday I was at a client site who has almost no signal. The perfect place to test. And does the CellRanger do anything more than use electricity? Find out below.
CellRanger works on the 800 and 1900 MHZ range. Most US phones (AT&T included) use the 1900 signal range. This won’t work with older style Nextel phones that typically operate outside that frequency band.
Setup of the CellRanger is simple. The antenna is magnetic (and strong). I placed it on the trunk of my Honda Accord about 6 feet from my phone. The packaging advertises that you must be 12 inches or more from the CellRanger unit. Sitting in my car I was about 3 feet away from the base of the unit.
1. Cell Ranger will add 2-3 bars to your signal and reduce or eliminate dropped calls
2. Cell Ranger dramatically improves call quality by filtering and amplifying signals from nearby towers.
3. All broadband cards are supported, and will see a significant improvement in download speed.
4. If your phone shows full bars but calls drop upon dialing, Cell Ranger will NOT help (because it works based on boosting INCOMING signal quality which they claim accounts for most cell signal issues).
Here is what my iPhone 3G signal quality looked like before the CellRanger. I had no data coverage and barely any signal for voice coverage:
Test #1: Here’s what the iPhone 3G signal quality looks like AFTER the CellRanger was activated. Remember that this only works for phones on the 800 or 1900 MHZ band — and doesn’t support the older Nextel iDen type phones.
Notice that in this test the signal is up by two full bars and my EDGE data signal has returned.
Test #2 – this time the signal is boosted a bit farther and 3G data has returned.
So the CellRanger boosts signals. How does it work with voice calls?
I placed several test calls and each one was perfectly clear and the people on the other end said the phone quality sounded better than ever.
The CellRanger is marketed as a portable incoming signal booster (6 foot optimal range). So you should not expect this to bathe your house and surrounding yard in full bars of signal coverage.
And here’s a look at the impact CellRanger had on my 3G data speeds:
Before activating CellRanger my iPhone was registering between 600-800k on the DSL Reports iPhone speed test.
Once I turned the CellRanger on – the speeds improved to a fairly reliable 1,000 kbps – a boost of about 300k over regular speeds.
As an in-car booster I found that this is a very compact and useful signal booster that resulted in at least two to three bars of increased signal to my iPhone 3G.
The CellRanger could be used at a fixed location – though you’ll need to mount the magnetic antenna on something magnetic and within reach of a clear cellular signal.
What I liked:
- Increased signal as advertised
- USB model adaptable to car or office use
What could be improved:
- Increase the signal range for whole house/office coverage
Price: $ 149