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Maximizing Cell Phone Reception with Orientation Rules?

  1. Jan 13, 2015 #1
    Are there any generally accepted techniques for maximizing cell phone reception with regards to phone orientation? When I search for this question on Google I get "answers" that seem more opinion than anything. Any engineers in the house with definitive experience with this topic and confident answers to these questions?

    Do cell (mobile) phones generally have their antennas oriented up/down? If so, and assuming the emitters are up/down, is it safe to assume that you'll get better reception if your cell phone is in a vertical configuration? Or are there complications to this polarity issue? (I am guessing 'yes'!)

    When I am able to talk on my cell phone in my enclosed room, is it because the waves bounced off the walls and under the door (high reflective coefficient)? Or is it because they actually went through the walls (lack of absorption)? If the former, is it safe to assume that the polarity will be essentially random because of the various and multiple bounce angles?

    Do you know of more empirical approaches where there would be experiments done in which cell phones inside buildings at various distances from the emitting antenna would be placed at various locations and in various orientations to see which cases maximized reception? Perhaps we could find a general pattern which could lead to rules of thumb.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 13, 2015 #2


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    that would vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, they may have laid the antenna out to give a bit of both vertical and horizontal polarity

    Again ... without knowing how the phone was designed, the results would be meaningless.
    you could just be seeing the difference in design quality of the different makes of phone

    The company I work for got Samsung Galaxy S5 phones ... they were crap for phone network access
    The Galaxy S2 my wife had wasn't much better, my HTC was far better over a wider range of distances from the cell towers

  4. Jan 13, 2015 #3


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    The cell phone signals travel reasonably well through very thin walls and glass windows. Thicker walls, especially with wet wood or brick will block direct transmission. Transmission is quite often by scattering from conductive edges along the path. For example, a highly conductive aluminium window frame will be excited by external signals, refraction about the conductive edge of the frame will re-radiate within the building. Alternatively, the signal passing through the window that does not reach the phone directly will need to be scattered by some other illuminated object in the room.

    The same sort of thing occurs in a car. The windows are apertures with circulating currents in the metal frame. Short wavelength cell phone signals may pass through the glass window, but waves longer than about 4 times the window dimension, such as VHF, require the conductive frame to pass through the aperture. It only requires a thin slot with a conductive edge to pass phone signals. The aluminium draft excluder under an external door may be enough to propagate the signal. Overlapping foil insulation in a wall will permit propagation if the sheets are not electrically bonded together.

    The inbuilt antennas for cell phones are designed to have few deep nulls in their pattern. Changing orientation may change signal levels. I believe some are now circularly polarised so that they can be less sensitive to orientation. When outside buildings the normal orientation may work well, but inside buildings the sum of all scattered signals can have quite unpredictable polarisation, they also have lower signal strength. That is when your position within the room, or a change of phone orientation will be most noticeable. Remember that your head, hand and any attached cables are also part of the phone antenna.
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