Update coming that will make signal appear to be better

Verizon Galaxy Nexus signal strength

It's not every day that smartphone users want to be lied to. But in the case of signal strength, we'll apparently make an exception. Verizon has told Computer World that in the case of the Verizon Galaxy Nexus, the LTE signal is being received and reported accurately. Too accurately, actually. So accurately, in fact, that if you appear to have a worse signal and more 3G/4G bouncing with the Galaxy Nexus, it's probably because your other LTE phones weren't as accuate as the Galaxy Nexus.

So, as Verizon told Computer World, it will make the Galaxy Nexus report signal strength a little less accurately as to ease our minds and be more in line with its other LTE devices. And so long as the phone at least appears to have a better connection, we're apparently OK with it.

This isn't an unprecedented move -- Apple did pretty much the same thing with the iPhone 4. While we're not disputing that things have appeared to be a bit off -- our own Verizon review unit definitely has appeared to be more wonky than our other 4G devices -- there's probably a little bit of the internet microscope at work here, too. Verizon (and every other carrier) is always working on improving connection, even after a phone is released. It's why we see new radios in updates all the time.

Anybody want to put money on what the next bug of the week is going to be?

Source: ComputerWorld
More: Verizon Galaxy Nexus forums


Reader comments

Verizon on Galaxy Nexus signal strength: It's not us, it's you


I'm going to take a wild guess and say that because this is a Google Nexus phone aimed at developers it's reporting the signal correctly.

Other 3rd party phones we are used to are probably doing what Apple did with their signal strength software and jacking up the signal a bar so you think you're getting more than you are.

I doubt it has anything to do with precise signal strength. This problem has always been around.

When do you drop 3G and just go back to Edge? As soon as 3G signal gets weaker than Edge?

WRONG: You stay on 3G as long as signal strength is adequate, and drop to Edge only when you can no longer hold 3G.

And you don't go back to 3G until it is SIGNIFICANTLY stronger than Edge, and has been for a while.

The idea is to minimize switching. Because switching is disruptive. Its probably way more disruptive to Verizon because they are completely different Radios.

Verizon appears to be swapping radios too soon, and wanting to blame someone else. They need to stay on LTE till it won't work, then drop to 3G and stay there until LTE is again strong and steady, instead of bouncing back and forth. They simply need to lengthen their dwell interval and stop jumping back and forth.

Actually, in the case of WCDMA on AT&T, WCDMA drops down to EDGE when about half of the requested data doesn't come back. If you lock your phone into WCDMA only mode, you will always see faster data speeds and the entire system will work better, as WCDMA and EDGE have the same J/S failure point.

The only reason why carriers drop down to EDGE is because there is too much traffic on the WCDMA channel, making any new connections impossible. The fallback is designed to support a large number of users in one area, or to provide legacy coverage from an older network.

In terms of going back to WCDMA, that time is all in the firmware and differs from phone to phone(although you can change it in your firmware if you really know what you're doing. There switching takes more power on the UE end of things, using more power and reducing your battery life.

The entire LTE thing is a completely different beast, as Verizon hasn't upgraded all their towers to LTE yet. A lot of the handover stuff will be sorted out once Verizon fully upgrades its network.

There are advantages and drawbacks to setting specific handover times, and I feel that the Galaxy Nexus preforms quite well in that regard.

You can't imagine the laughter I'm getting from this "Half-Baked" joke of a phone with my Droid Charge parts in it.. My EP4D Radios work just fine Thank You.. What a ripoff product!.. $800-900.00 (Off Contract + Tax & Accessories ) for this.. Really?

Blazing ( Laughing & Connected! ) on my 1,300 mhz Droid Charge.. Awaiting a *Real SuperPhone* KAL-EL....

I <3 it when trolls, specifically you, have no idea what you're talking about.. the inside of the gnex has about as much in common with the charge as it does a stack of pancakes.

Happy holidays

Sorry for everyones complaints, but I have full bars of 4G at my office and 3-4 at my house with the Gnex. I am satisfied.

Sounds like you share the same office and home that I do. Full bars at my office and 3 to 4 at home. You're not stalking are you?

Happened on the Nexus One as well.  In fact, every new phone seems to have network issues when they first come out.  It's how well, and how soon, they get fixed that matters.

Or maybe Google will smarten up and go back to releasing unbranded GSM versions here.

Delayed release? Verizon's fault. Bad press from bloatware and restricted tethering? Verizon's fault. Poor battery life? Because of Verizon's non-integrated radio approach to LTE. Complaints of less bars than other phones? Because Verizon has been lying with every other phone and people got used to it.

Meanwhile, the GSM version released everywhere else is getting high praise all around while the Verizon version flounders.

Regardless of what's being said here i know exactly what i saw on my Lg Revolution before purxhasing my Galaxy Nexus. I get great 4g LTE sevice everywhere except home when my device falls to 3g with always zero to 1bar of service at always -120dBm 1asu. I have never seen LTE 4G service inside my home yet since purchase last Thursday. My Revolution at showed LTE servuce at 2bars but switched often between 4g and 3g as well as 1x. This is just wierd..

Sounds like you have weak 4G and 3G signal inside house - that's why Revolution jumps between all three and your GN shows weak signal on 3G. Might want to think about investing in a network extender to boost signal.

What you apparently fail to realize is that your LG Revolution was reporting the wrong signal all along. Your shiny new Galaxy Nexus is reporting the ACTUAL signal strength you are getting. And if your home is made of concrete, brick, steel, or aluminum, it greatly affects signal strength. I guess people who need to be shown how to use modern day technology don't understand even the most common sense things. How sad.

Signal is back after a reboot. Called Verizon tech. They said they have been issues since 2am last night but that they are rolling it back out now. Told me to pull the sim for a few seconds and that should help. I am not sure how that fixes anything but the phone is now back on and still 2 bars. I'm only 30 minutes west of St Lou so shouldn't be an issue.

On a side note, since I bought the phone at the store, this is the first time I have ever taken off the battery cover. Scary taking it on and off. Really surprised at how flimsy they would make it on a developer phone considering battery pulls may be a common fix for things. Then again, I am not a developer and this is my first Nexus so nothing to compare it to except my old DInc.

I've been taking it off and on a lot. I'm a heavy user and I have a backup battery. After you get use to it you realize nothing is going to break and all is good.

It's not fragile. Same backing material on my Galaxy S II. I am a developer and have taken the back off probably a thousand times (no joke). Still as good as the day I bought it.

I dont know much but I do know that I drive about an hour and fifteen min to and from work and I never lost the siganl with my Droid X while streaming Slacker. My GNex lost it 3-4 times Mon and Tues and of course there was nothing this morning.


I live in a rural area. My dx had 1+ bars all the time. My gn reports zero bars AND PROVIDED ZERO SERVICE. AFTER 3 DAYS OF ZERO HOME SERVICE I RETURNED IT AND BOUGHT THE DROID RAZR. I'M SURE IT WAS ALL IN MY HEAD..

DO YOU YELL AT YOUR FRIENDS TOO? I have to say my nexus works better than my HTC Thunderbolt and Motorola Bionic, but remember I could buy another one tomorrow and it work totally different. I've always been a moto fan when it came to cell service but my gnex just took the lead.

Maybe it's all in the bars.... I just picked up a Nexus, I'm showing 2 bars but signal strength is show as -93dBm, inside my house in interior room. Calls on the phone sounded great, I asked those I talked to how it sounded and they said it was fine. Who knows.

So its official, HTC Thunderbolt has a better radio than the Nexus, because this thing drops out or drops to 3G all freaking day, my Thunderbolt didn't do that.

Yeah, and there were like 9 radio updates between May 2011 and ... oh .. LAST week when yet another dropped as part of that update they pushed. I mean SERIOUSLY .. my TB had some BIG issues with 4G and it's radios when I got it in May. So you can't TALK trash and compare because GN = New Shiny while the TB = is old and patched. ;)

I have both the Thunderbolt from day 1 of its release and the Galaxy Nexus from day 1. I recall when I first got the Thunderbolt it having all kinds of connection issues. There are even videos of it on my youtube account from way back then (wow, 9 months, LOL). It took three different radio flashes to finally make the thing stable, but it was a miserable device (connection-wise) the first month or two. I'm willing to give Sammy a bit of time to fix it if there really is a radio issue...

...and I think there really is because side-by-side testing my Thunderbolt gets 5 bars but the GN only gets 2. Okay, it's just the signal indicator, they say; I don't buy it. If I lay both phones side-by-side on top of my aluminum MacBook Pro, the Nexus loses all signal, including voice and can't place a call, but the Thunderbolt maintains its 5 bar connection.

It's just strange, I even commented on this the moment I got it the first day. I didn't think anything of it at the time, but I'm not sure it's THE CUSTOMER's fault Verizon. I know Moto might have better radios than Sammy, but still I went from a Droid Charge to the GNEX and so I have some Experience with Samsung. I always had 3-4 with my Droid Charge and it never dropped to 3g at my house, with the Gnex, I have 0-1 4G bars and it’s constantly dropping to 3G. I think there is more than meets the eye with this one Verizon. If my Droid Charge is now reporting the 4G strength but is instead displaying 1X CDMA or even 3G, then why has this never been a big issue before.

I came from the thunderbolt and droid razr and the first thing i notixed was poor 3g strength and dropped data and calls... Its not the customers Verizon.

I can't comment on other Android's, this is my first one, but using the GSM/HSPA+ GNex at home I am at times completely losing my signal and being dropped from service. If I move around the room it comes back. My place is notably bad for having spotty cell reception as I live pretty close to a big rock wall, but my last phone (a Bold 9700) never had issues with completely losing the connection.

I have a Bionic and GNex...my Bionic keeps 3-4 bars ALL the time and I can put my Gnex right beside it and maybe get 2 bars...mostly back in forth from 1-2 on 4g signal. Nice try Verizon but um try again!!!!

Moto has always inflated their signal strength. My friends with. DROID X's would always pick at me over the weak signal bars on my Incredible til we speed tested right next to each other and I always came out on top with my de-throttling script and such on CM7.

Signal bars are there for the sake of piece of mind. They mean a whole lot of nothing in the real world. Its all dependent on environment to regulate how strong the radio frequency is in your location.. big aluminium building? Not so much.

There is no excuse for this lousy quality on a phone that took so long to put together. The techs who spent months doing their homework should all be fired. I didn't buy the new Nexus because I just wasn't too thrilled about some of the choices about the so called LandMark phone. No SD card is complete bull shit I don't care how the so called know it alls want to spin it. Just bull shit. I know the camera isn't terrible but come on, all the new phones, even Samsung's GS2 has a better camera and Google decided on a cheaper camera. Just those two features along with a screen that is just a little too big for me turned me to buying a better piece of hardware and flash the ICS Rom on it myself. I own several of the past Nexus phones and I am just bull shit over this.

So basically, the Nexus has been reporting accurately. If a phone has a -107dBm it shouldn't show having 2-3 bars. It should only show 1 bar. They are going to update the phone to show 2-3 bars when it should only show 1 bar??? This is dumb, in my opinion. There is a problem with data going in and out, I agree to fix that, but I don't agree with being lied to and saying that I have 4 bars when I should have 1-2 bars. Verizon is giving in to the customers complaints because customers stating they used to have 4 bars on their old phone but now only have 1-2. I hope that when they do this update they have an option to go into the settings and change it back to how it shows the signal strength. This would be a way of Verizon messing up the nexus if they do this. Fix the data issues but don't do anything to how the signal strength is displayed. Lastly, everyone should know by now that the dBm and not the bars is the true way of telling you if you have good signal strength. It would be funny if Verizon updated this phone to show us having 3 bars with -95dBm when it reality it should show 1-2 bars with that dBm. I urge Verizon to be smart when they do this update.

Forget bars, ever since last Thursday my SGN had a -120dbm and no data (except an occasional 1x sniff) where my Thunderbolt was giving me -92dbm and solid 3g. I took it back to Verizon and tried out another one with the same results (both in the store & at home). I am fighting beck the tears as I am now a Thunderbolt user again. I hope & pray they actually fix the things so I can get one again b/c I loved it!

I remain mystified why anyone would buy a phone that doesn't offer signal where they live or work. We spend most of our time in these two places so should we at least have SOME signal there? I left Verizon when they couldn't provide a signal at my home and I have never looked back since. 25 years later they still DON'T provide any signal. At work we have signal from all four carriers. Well I hope that Verizon improves its network, but tweaking the phone to ARTIFICIALLY "improve" signal is just another chapter of smoke and mirrors, that can be chalked up with those annoying inaccurate (read: intentionally misleading) coverage maps.

This makes me really angry. I had a Bionic for over two months, and was always able to get a 4G signal at my home. I exchanged it for a GNex, and I can *never* get a 4G signal at my home. It's that simple. I don't care how many bars it shows, or what the dbm numbers are. All I know is that one phone would give me 4G connectivity, and the other won't.

I have had no signal issues so I have to agree with Verizon on this one. I get 3g and 4g when I am suppose to get it and my sisters Thunderbolt shows more bars but yet I am still able to download pages faster than hers. People calm down.

My download speeds are great (25Mbps+) and so is my call quality. If someone lives in an area with crappy service on their Nexus they should get something else. I also don't spend all day staring at the signal bars or dbms pretending I know what is good or not based on some other phone.

Thank you for reporting this and verizon better fix this. Me and my friend at work both have same issues. It is not the bars it is not damn speed. It is the reliability of the signal. Going to 3 bars to none and than dropping data all together? really verizon? It happens 4-5 times a day.

Coming from a razr I can tell the difference. One of my friends still has his razr, pulls out his phone and bamn -80dbm and I pull out my phone it is at a lousy -100dbm, really? Yea its in my head. I don't even care about the dbm, just stop the 4g drop outs. Razr never did that, if I am in 4g area painted in bloody red color, I better have 4g.

Here we go again with people comparing signals on different phones that are measuring different signals.

If you are having a problem, you should just take the GN back and get something else.

He's not comparing different signals - he's comparing 4G on a RAZR to 4G on a GNex. I agree that you can't compare a 3G signal to a 4G signal...that's not what he's doing. I'm in the same situation...I went from a Bionic to a GNex, and I'm never able to receive a 4G signal at home now, while I always could with the Bionic.

The larger issue, though, is why do you care? If you're not having a problem, great...congratulations. Why does it bother you so much to hear that others of us are having issues?

I had this same problem with a 3G phone. Would have three bars and several times a day it would just drop the data and switch to 1X. With the Gnex, I don't see this happening when on 4G nor do I see it happening when the phone is set to 4G off.

I've been watching this whole discussion unfold as I try to decide if I want to spring for a GN. While I am sure there is a group of people who have a legitimate signal problem, based on what I've read on this and other sites, I think the majority of people are just plain throwing a hissy fit because they are confused about how to interpret the signal strength information this phone reports in comparison to other phones.

I think most people have to take a deep breath and remember this phone has only been out a week. If you can't live with it, take it back and get something else. Life's too short to have a coronary over a phone.

Just another throttling ploy 2 get people 2 take their gnex back and buy a droid line phone. Think about it they didnt even want 2 release the dam thing!

Sitting here at work and figured I would look to see what my phone is reading, I'm at a downtown Boston location and I am getting
-88dBm of LTE with two bars showing on my HTC Rezound.......that doesn't seem like false advertising to me. I hope Verizon fixes this problem for all the GN people out there, I think it's a great phone and just needs some tweaking to get it right.I gave my son my old Thunderbolt and got the Rezound for myself and both are working well with no signal issues at all and I have to say the Rezound is the best phone I ever owned. Hang tight people I'm sure their working on a fix to make the GN a great phone that it is.

The Nexus is the problem not Verizon. If you don't like it get rid of it. End of story. Blaming verizon for the pos nexus is just ridiculous.

You can put lipstick on a pig.....

This is most likely a hardware issue just like the GSM volume bug (due to poor shielding). Like that issue, may be it can be fixed via software, but both of these problems speak to quality of hardware! Unacceptable! Wonder what other bugs may be lurking?

On my GN, it's not so much as switching to 3g, but the signal just dropping out all together. Last night at dinner, my friends bionic was at 4 bars, functioning perfectly while my gn could not lock on any signal.

Exactly. I've seen quotes from Verizon execs saying that this is simply an issue of how the signal is being reported. While that may also be an issue, the bigger issue is that a lot of us are unable to pick up a signal at all, while other 4G devices have no problem in the same location.

So wait, "reporting signal TOO ACCURATELY."

So they are saying it's our fault their signal quality is low because the Galaxy Nexus is reporting signal too accurately?

I'm confused here. Maybe it's because I'm not a Verizon employee or something.

well i received my nexus Wednesday.about 11am. about 1 pm i tried to activate it with no success. called Verizon, an after about 40 minutes we finally got it to activate. As the crow flys i am about 1100 feet from Verizon's tower. I had one bar of service with 3g for about 2 minutes. Then i lost 3g and have not got it back since even after talking with tech for over an hour. Two droid x's on my plan with my nexus and they all have great 3g service. No 4g lte in my area till spring. I had enough, i just called and reactivated my old droid x. Good luck all