If you find that your WiFi is using a lot more battery than usual, or if you always seem to be connected but the internet isn’t lightning fast, you may be suffering from a poor WiFi connection. Here is our guide on how to improve the Wi-Fi signal on your Android and iOS smartphones.
Check how far you are from the router
Without installing an app, it’s always a good idea to check how close (or far) you are to your router. If the speed issues only occur when you are some distance away from the router, it is always a good idea to sit a little closer. If this is not possible, you may need to physically move the router to a better location.
If the problems persist even when you are relatively close to the router, it is always a good idea to restart it once.
Find out which Wi-Fi access point is the best
Without turning the router off and on again, which should always be your first option if you’re suffering from poor Wi-Fi connection, you can also use the Wi-Fi analyzer app. First, it offers the best channel for your particular network. Without going into details, you can optimize the network and don’t need to be a technical expert to do it.
Second, it evaluates which network in the region has the most stable connection, which your phone is often not connected to by default. Finally, it provides easy access to network information like your IP address, network gateway, DNS, etc. It’s not essential, but useful for power users.
If you’re using an iPhone, an alternative app called Network Analyzer.
Check if your phone case is blocking the signal
Do you use a bag with your phone? If so, you may want to check if any of the causes of poor WiFi (and cellular) connectivity are related to the case. Many phone cases have been known to actually degrade your Wi-Fi signal, especially if they contain metal.
To see if your case is affecting your Wi-Fi signal, run an Ookla speed test with the case powered off. Then put the case back on in the same spot and run the test again.
If you notice a difference in the way you use your case, then you should look for alternatives. You can also do the same test using Ookla’s official speed test app. However, the app requests a variety of permissions. So we recommend uninstalling them once you have completed your test.
Make sure your router is in the right place
Another trick that can greatly improve your home WiFi connection is optimizing the router’s location. Often times it will be placed right next to the phone or cable socket, but this is rarely the best for your connection. There are several apps that you can use to optimize the location of your router. However, most of the instructions are too technical for a layperson to perform.
So the best thing to do is to contact your ISP, who has all the tools needed to position your router in the best possible location in your home. Ideally, this should be done by the ISP on the day of installation.
If you have a large house on multiple floors, you should also check out the mesh WiFi routers.
Use the 5 GHz band for Wi-Fi connections
Most Android smartphones (and routers) today support the 5 GHz frequency band. When setting up your router, chances are your ISP technician created two separate Wi-Fi networks to choose from. Most routers name the 5 GHz networks by adding the term 5G to the end of the SSID.
If you think you are on a slow 2.4GHz network, it’s always a good idea to switch to the 5GHz band, which has a lot more free space on the spectrum. There are 23 channels at 20 MHz each on the 5 GHz frequency, which is much more than the 14 channels offered on 2.4 GHz. Since the channels don’t overlap, you’ll likely get a better signal for your WiFi if you’re connected to a 5 GHz network.
Note that a 5 GHz network has a much shorter range compared to 2.4 GHz. There may be a noticeable drop in speed when connected to a 5 GHz network, but you are physically far from the router. In such cases it is better to switch to the “slower” 2.4 GHz band.
Update your radio or firmware
If you are getting OTA updates from your carrier or manufacturer, this is likely not to apply to you. However, if you are running custom ROMs, you may occasionally need to manually update the radio on your Android device. For example, here’s how to update the bootloader and radio on the Nexus 5. You should also make sure that you are using the latest version of Android for the best performance. To check this, go to Settings> About> Software Updates.
Instruct your phone to avoid bad connections (Android 6.0 Marshmallow or older).
Note: This step is no longer an option on modern Android smartphones.
There’s a nice little option in the Android Settings menu that tells your phone to avoid poor Wi-Fi connections. This means that scanning for available networks will not attempt to connect to people with poor signals. This saves you a lot of strength and frustration. Just go to Settings> Wi-Fi and tap the Overflow Menu button and then Advanced. Here you can see the check box to avoid bad connections.
Are we missing any tricks? What are you doing to boost your WiFi signal?
This article was last updated in May 2021. Older comments have been retained.