What are the differences between the weBoost Drive 4G‑X and weBoost Drive Reach?
weBoost Drive 4G‑X (470510) vs. weBoost Drive Reach (470154)
weBoost’s Drive 4G‑X has been the best-selling mobile cell signal booster since it launched in 2014. Five years later, weBoost has introduced the Drive Reach, with a radically different look an enhanced capabilities. How do these two mobile systems compare?
- weBoost Drive 4G‑X: $449.99 (May 2019)
- weBoost Drive Reach: $499.99 (May 2019)
The Drive 4G‑X costs 10% less than the Drive Reach. Because the Drive Reach is dramatically superior to the Drive 4G‑X in performance, we expect that most people in the market for a mobile booster will be willing to pay the extra fifty dollars to get the Reach.
- weBoost Drive 4G‑X: Metal case
- weBoost Drive Reach: Metal case with heat sink and mounting bracket
Both the Drive 4G‑X and Drive Reach have metal cases, but the extra power in the Drive Reach means it runs hotter than its predecessor. The Drive Reach therefore has a large heat sink—eight 15 mm‑deep grooves on the top to disperse the excess heat the booster generates. Because the Drive Reach needs air to cool itself, you’ll want to install it in your vehicle under a seat or in another well-ventilated area, not in the glove box.
The Drive Reach also has a click-on mounting bracket with VELCRO® strips that adhere to a carpeted floor and screw holes so you can mount the booster on the roof of a car trunk or other drillable surface.
The Drive Reach is slightly shorter and 50% taller than the Drive 4G‑X. Because of its large heat sink, the Drive Reach is more than twice as heavy as its predecessor:
Gain is the increased in the signal strength the booster gives to the signal it receives from the outside antenna, measured in dB (decibels).
- The Drive 4G‑X has a maximum gain of +50 dB.
- The Drive Reach has a maximum gain of +50 dB.
The Drive 4G‑X and Drive Reach are both rated at the maximum gain the FCC allows for carrier-preapproved mobile cell signal boosters. Where the two boosters differ is in uplink and downlink power:
Uplink and downlink power
- Uplink power is the amount of energy the booster uses to connect to a cell tower, measured in decibel-milliwatts (dBm). The more uplink power, the greater the distance the booster can be from the tower and still make a connection.
- Downlink power is the amount of energy the booster uses to connect to phones and other cellular devices inside the vehicle, measured in decibel-milliwatts (dBm). The more downlink power, the greater the distance a phone can be from the inside antenna and still receive improved cell signal.
Since dBm is measured logarithmically—every 3 dB increase is twice the power and every 10 dB increase is ten times the power—it’s helpful to convert uplink and downlink figures to milliwatts (mW) to compare the signal strengths involved.
The weBoost Drive Reach has considerable advantages over the Drive 4G‑X in both uplink and downlink power:
- The Drive Reach has over three times the uplink power of the Drive 4G‑X (753 mW ÷ 242 mW = 3.12). That means the Drive Reach can connect to towers that are much farther away than those the lower-powered Drive 4G‑X can reach.
- The Drive Reach has nearly twice the downlink power of the Drive 4G‑X (3.24 mW ÷ 1.78 mW = 1.82). That means the Drive Reach can connect to more phones in your vehicle at a greater distance from the inside antenna.
In summary, the weBoost Drive Reach is significantly more powerful than the older-model Drive 4G‑X.
The Drive 4G‑X and Drive Reach both have a single indicator light on the front of the booster to indicate the amplifier’s status:
- A solid green light indicates that the booster is operating normally across all frequencies.
- Blinking red-then-solid green indicates that the power to one or more frequencies has been reduced to prevent signal oscillation.
- Solid red indicates the booster has shut down because of oscillation to prevent interference with the tower. (This should rarely ever happen.)
- weBoost Drive 4G‑X: RG174 (−2.44 dB signal loss per 10 feet @ 800 MHz)
- weBoost Drive Reach: 100-type (−2.37 dB signal loss per 10 feet @ 800 MHz)
The Drive Reach and Drive 4G‑X both use thin, 50-ohm coax cable. The difference between RG174 and 100-type coax is negligible—they’re the same diameter and the signal loss per foot is nearly identical. Neither the Drive 4G‑X nor the Drive Reach has any real advantage in this area.
Which mobile cell signal booster is right for you?
The Drive Reach is substantially more powerful than the Drive 4G‑X and can connect to weaker and more distant cell towers. In many situations, you’re going to appreciate having this booster’s longer reach and greater power.
The Drive 4G‑X may be the better solution for you if you want to use your booster in more than one vehicle because its SMA connectors are easier to repeatedly detach and reattach.