Top 6 Car and Truck Cell Phone Boosters for 2020
Updated September 17, 2020
Need better cellular reception on the road?
Mobile cell signal boosters amplify outside cell signal that’s too weak for your cell phone to pick up and broadcast it inside your car or truck. They allow you to make calls, receive text messages, and use apps for navigation, communication, and entertainment.
Powerful Signal has tested the top mobile cell phone signal boosters from leading manufacturers. Here are our top six recommended systems for this year, sorted by price:
¹ Most cell phone signal boosters are carrier agnostic—they boost signal for all major cellular carriers at the same time. Cel-Fi boosters from Nextivity boost one carrier at a time; you can boost your choice of Verizon (4G only), AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, U.S. Cellular, or GCI Alaska.
² Measured in RSRP. Gain is the increase in the strength of the signal received by the booster. The higher the maximum gain, the stronger the signal the cellular phone will receive. Gain is measured in decibels (dB), which are logarithmic: An increase of 3 dB doubles the signal strength, an increase of 10 dB is ten times the signal strength, and an increase of 20 dB is one hundred times the signal strength. A booster’s maximum gain varies across the different cellular frequencies it supports; some frequencies will have a higher maximum gain; others, lower.
³ The Cel-Fi’s GO boosters have two gain settings: a 65 dB mobile setting for use while driving and an optional 100 dB stationary setting that can be used while parked or inside a building. The maximum gain is set using the Cel-Fi WAVE smartphone app.
⁴ Uplink power is the amount of output power the booster uses to communicate with the cell tower’s antenna; the more uplink power, the farther the booster can reach to distant towers. Uplink power is measured in decibel-milliwatts (dBm), which are a logarithmic measurement of milliwatts (mW): 20 dBm is 100 mW (one-tenth of a watt); 25 dBm is 316 mW (about one-third of a watt), over three times the power of 20 dBm. The figures in the table above are the booster’s average uplink power across all the cellular frequencies it supports and are drawn from test data submitted to the FCC.
⁵ Downlink power is the amount of power the booster uses to reach cellular phones and devices inside the building. The more downlink power, the larger the area of indoor coverage and the greater the booster’s ability to penetrate walls and floors to reach phones. Downlink power is measured in decibel-milliwatts (dBm), which are a logarithmic measurement of milliwatts (mW): 10 dBm is 10 mW of power (one-one hundredth of a watt); 13 dBm is about 20 mW of power (one-fiftieth of a watt), twice that of 10 dBm. The figures in the table above are the booster’s average downlink power across all the cellular frequencies it supports and are drawn from test data submitted to the FCC.
⁶ Cellular phones and devices operate across multiple bands of cellular frequency. See the table at the bottom of our Cellular Frequency Bands web page for more information about these bands and which carriers use them.
⁷ A non-magnetic option (NMO) antenna is permanently mounted in the vehicle’s roof by a professional installer. NMO-mounted antennas are frequently used in fleet vehicles.
⁸ The Cel-Fi GO M’s booster enclosure and connectors are NEMA 4 rated, which protects against falling dirt and windblown dust, rain, sleet, snow, splashing water, hose directed water, and the formation of ice. Read more about NEMA enclosure types (PDF).
⁹ Cell signal booster systems must use coax cables that match the booster’s impedance. 50-ohm mobile boosters use 50-ohm coax (including LMR100 and RG174).