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Old January 7th, 2012, 10:03 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default dbm's explained?

I have read lots and lots about dbms on here. I'm not sure exactly what they are. Im guessing its signal strength that your particular phone radio is able to muster in. I am very curious about this because it seems to be the best and perhaps only tool to see how are Gnexus' are demonstrating performance. Its also the major area of turmoil with the Gnex.

So anyone that could simply school me on this would be great. Is a lower number better. And maybe we could list in this thread very cleanly some measurements about the signal strength. Not to be redundant, but rather to more effectively gather imput to see whats going on. Short and sweet.

What would be amazing perfect dbms, and what would be unacceptable??

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Old January 7th, 2012, 12:32 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Lower is better.

However they say the nexus is the only phone to read true lte so their dbm signal is lte.

You cant compare it to the rezound/razr any other 4g because their dbm readimg is suppose to be actually 3g.

I dunno. Hope that helps. Even tho i dont think that is reason the nexus has crappy signal. I think its the radio
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Old January 7th, 2012, 12:37 PM   #3 (permalink)
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-120 is unacceptable
-100 is poor but usable
-80 is acceptable/decent
-60 is good
-40 is excellent
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Old January 7th, 2012, 12:40 PM   #4 (permalink)
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-40!

Pics or it didnt happen. Lol.

The best ive seen is -80 on my nexus. -90 normally at my house.
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Old January 7th, 2012, 12:41 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I've read that, butI saw that the lg revolution has dual indicators.
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Old January 7th, 2012, 01:24 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by civicsisedan View Post
However they say the nexus is the only phone to read true lte so their dbm signal is lte.

You cant compare it to the rezound/razr any other 4g because their dbm readimg is suppose to be actually 3g.
When the Nexus is forced to CDMA-only mode (either to conserve battery or when the 4G LTE signal is too weak to use), then it will show the 3G dBm value which can be compared to any other VZW phone.

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I've read that, butI saw that the lg revolution has dual indicators.
Kewl, I didn't know it did that.
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Old January 7th, 2012, 04:15 PM   #7 (permalink)
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lol mine at home when forced to 3G stays at -120.....and it sucks.

edit* just to add though this doesn't affect my call quality at all however. In fact i haven't dropped one call and it sounds just as clear if not more than my DX. Also my DroidX would occasionally drop calls here at home.
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Old January 8th, 2012, 03:10 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Helpful thread going to link this in the FAQs

Edit: Also here's the Wikipedia link if anyone wants a lot more technical info:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DBm
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Old January 8th, 2012, 05:25 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I had read about this phone for a while and couldn't wait to get it. When it was finally released for Verizon I placed an order for three of these for my family. While waiting for them to arrive I started reading all of these posts about how bad the reception was and I started to wonder if I'd done the wrong thing by buying them. I live in a fringe area that had a -120 signal reading on the Droid Eris that I was using and thought if the Nexus is that bad there's no way I'd be able to place a call. The phones finally arrived and while still @ -120 no dropped calls, 3g works fine & I couldn't be happier with my purchase. Maybe I'm just lucky or maybe people are to hung up on numbers. Bottom line..... Who cares about the numbers? The phone either works for you or it doesn't. If it doesn't work to your satisfaction, take it back.
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Old January 8th, 2012, 09:14 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dpkimmel2001 View Post
I had read about this phone for a while and couldn't wait to get it. When it was finally released for Verizon I placed an order for three of these for my family. While waiting for them to arrive I started reading all of these posts about how bad the reception was and I started to wonder if I'd done the wrong thing by buying them. I live in a fringe area that had a -120 signal reading on the Droid Eris that I was using and thought if the Nexus is that bad there's no way I'd be able to place a call. The phones finally arrived and while still @ -120 no dropped calls, 3g works fine & I couldn't be happier with my purchase. Maybe I'm just lucky or maybe people are to hung up on numbers. Bottom line..... Who cares about the numbers? The phone either works for you or it doesn't. If it doesn't work to your satisfaction, take it back.
Well said!

I seem to be experiencing the same thing. At home Im supposed to be on the fringe of 4g coverage but can't receive it on the nexus. My 3g signal always shows 1 blue bar at -120 and it connects decently. I am on wifi at home unless experimenting with the connectivity.

Not sure how I came up with what Im about to explain, but Im pretty sure It came from a solid source. Whenever I explain getting a signal to someone, I always tell them the advantage of the verizon cdma (voice call) verse gsm is that with verizon, even if you have 1 bar you are connected, and that connection is as good as all other connections regardless of bars. That is the beauty of cdma, your either on of off, no gsm distinctions such as poor quality or static related to your bar strength.

Im guessing that data connections are altogether different, and 4G even more so.
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Old January 9th, 2012, 09:30 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Um, higher is better. -75 dBm > -120 dBm.

Just be sure to compare LTE to LTE when comparing between phones, which is pretty difficult since most other phones don't report LTE signal strength.

There are a few apps in the market to help with this endeavor. Sensorly will display 3G and LTE signal strength at the same time, so that one doesn't have to switch to 3G to compare the Nexus signal levels to any of the other phones. However, I have noticed that sometimes the app reports slightly different numbers from what can be seen in Settings > About Phone > Status.

Some have reported that if used on any of the other 4G phones, it also reports LTE signal strength. I can't confirm this myself, but it's worth a try if one is interested.
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Old January 9th, 2012, 12:51 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crankerchick View Post
Um, higher is better. -75 dBm > -120 dBm.
When people say "lower is better" they are ignoring the negative sign, since there really is no positive dbm levels with cell phones.

But yes, technically, -75 is greater/higher than -120
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Old January 9th, 2012, 12:55 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by sdrawkcab25 View Post
When people say "lower is better" they are ignoring the negative sign, since there really is no positive dbm levels with cell phones.

But yes, technically, -75 is greater/higher than -120
|-75| dBm < |-120| dBm

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Old January 9th, 2012, 12:59 PM   #14 (permalink)
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|-75| dBm < |-120| dBm

Awesome use of absolute value. I approve.
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Old January 9th, 2012, 01:27 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlueBiker View Post
|-75| dBm < |-120| dBm

Absolute lower is better? that's only for negative numbers. For very strong signal, dBm value actually becomes positive as shown in Wikipedia link above.

So in general, higher is always better, taking account of sign.
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Old January 9th, 2012, 01:50 PM   #16 (permalink)
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lol mine at home when forced to 3G stays at -120.....and it sucks.

edit* just to add though this doesn't affect my call quality at all however. In fact i haven't dropped one call and it sounds just as clear if not more than my DX. Also my DroidX would occasionally drop calls here at home.
You sir are an anomaly!
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Old January 9th, 2012, 01:56 PM   #17 (permalink)
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You sir are an anomaly!
Not everyone is having reception issue like this forum makes it look like. The phone signal reception part works for the most part no matter what's happening with data signal.
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Old January 9th, 2012, 03:46 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Sandroidfan View Post
Not everyone is having reception issue like this forum makes it look like. The phone signal reception part works for the most part no matter what's happening with data signal.
So what you're saying is, I should have got a Gnex?
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Old January 9th, 2012, 04:34 PM   #19 (permalink)
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So what you're saying is, I should have got a Gnex?
I didn't mean that. It's ultimately up to you and where you live. You may test one at your nearest VZW store to see if it works fine for you.
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Old January 9th, 2012, 04:35 PM   #20 (permalink)
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I didn't mean that. It's ultimately up to you and where you live. You may test one at your nearest VZW store to see if it works fine for you.
You mean test the signal at your closest VZW store where they boost the signal?
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Old January 9th, 2012, 04:40 PM   #21 (permalink)
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You mean test the signal at your closest VZW store where they boost the signal?
Do they have signal booster at VZW stores?
BTW, mine doesn't need it to function as phone.

edit: ok, I guess you were sarcastic before. I'm not suggesting anyone with other phone should have got Gnex, just to clarify. Just wanted to say not everyone is having reception issue.
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Old January 10th, 2012, 06:38 AM   #22 (permalink)
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You mean test the signal at your closest VZW store where they boost the signal?
If they boost the signal in the stores then they don't a good job in my store. Signal levels in the store are about the same as most places in my city read and the best levels are NOT found in my store, not even close.
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Old January 10th, 2012, 08:41 AM   #23 (permalink)
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You sir are an anomaly!
No, he isn't. I get great call quality with zero bars displayed more often than not.
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Old January 10th, 2012, 08:57 AM   #24 (permalink)
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I hope they fix it to where the G-Nex shows the signal in more than 5 increments. It not reading below -75 dBm when I know signal is stronger than that is annoying even though it doesn't affect actual performance. I just like to see accurate information.
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Old January 10th, 2012, 03:07 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Sandroidfan View Post
Do they have signal booster at VZW stores?
BTW, mine doesn't need it to function as phone.
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If they boost the signal in the stores then they don't a good job in my store. Signal levels in the store are about the same as most places in my city read and the best levels are NOT found in my store, not even close.
Hmmmm, perhaps I was too glib. I don't know for sure that they do that. People have suggested it, and I assumed it was similar to how electronic stores show perfect TV reception even on junky tuners.
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Old January 10th, 2012, 03:51 PM   #26 (permalink)
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I live in a pretty rural town and I usually get around -120 in my basement, but calls still come through crystal clear and are very reliable. I usually like to stay over at least -110 though. Got usually around -60 or -70 in Akron on my Incredible and I'm getting -80 right now on the Nexus.
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Old January 10th, 2012, 04:05 PM   #27 (permalink)
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So wait, is the big issue with the nexus call reception or data reception? If its call reception, im not SUPER concerned. My phone is used as a phone but I RARELY use it for anything other than shot 5 minute phone calls to work, parents, GF ect. And I text more often than not. Im more of a media hound, so data is slightly more important than perfect call reception.

How would one find the dbm's on the phone, or is it a market app specifically? I have a razr and want to have some comparisons. Im in a relatively strong 4G area where I pull between 3 and 5 bars consistently.
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Old January 10th, 2012, 04:13 PM   #28 (permalink)
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How would one find the dbm's on the phone, or is it a market app specifically? I have a razr and want to have some comparisons. Im in a relatively strong 4G area where I pull between 3 and 5 bars consistently.
On the Rezound you'd go to the Settings menu, then About phone, then Network: look under Signal strength. It must be the same or similar on Razr.

Keep in mind that the Galaxy Nexus reports 4G/LTE signal strength dBm when connected to a 4G/LTE signal, while all non-ICS phones report the (usually much stronger) 3G/CDMA strength even when connected to 4G/LTE.
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Old January 10th, 2012, 04:14 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Generally see better signal strength via bars and dDM on my wife's Bionic vs my Nexus. Call quality tended to be better on it (when I was using it). However, I've yet to have any issues for call quality on my Nexus. Certainly, it's not the best spec for it, but it's not horrible (as long as you're in a strong signal area).
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Old January 10th, 2012, 04:16 PM   #30 (permalink)
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On the Rezound you'd go to the Settings menu, then About phone, then Network: look under Signal strength. It must be the same or similar on Razr.

Keep in mind that the Galaxy Nexus reports 4G/LTE signal strength dBm when connected to a 4G/LTE signal, while all non-ICS phones report the (usually much stronger) 3G/CDMA strength even when connected to 4G/LTE.
Gotcha, found it. Im pulling in -66 dbms and its INSANELY fast. From what ive heard the Nexus is pulling in between 70 and 80 in good areas, so it shouldnt be THAT big of a change, correct?

And have we figured out if its hardware or software yet? And again, is this related to data or call quality?
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Old January 10th, 2012, 04:30 PM   #31 (permalink)
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Gotcha, found it. Im pulling in -66 dbms and its INSANELY fast. From what ive heard the Nexus is pulling in between 70 and 80 in good areas, so it shouldnt be THAT big of a change, correct?
Yeah, -66 is excellent. I typically get around -77 at home and have trouble pulling in a fast 3G signal for whatever reason.

Nexus values need to be qualified. -70 to -80 is decent for 3G, and if those are 4G then they'd be excellent since corresponding 3G signals would be roughly(?) 10-15dBm better than 4G. There are some apps that will display both 3G and 4G signal strengths, but they tend not to agree with the phone's built-in readout so I have no idea what to make of that!

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And have we figured out if its hardware or software yet?
Entire 300+ post threads have been discussing that, so there's no definitive answer yet. Verizon continues to insist that there's no Nexus connection problem and that any pending fix has to do with reporting bars differently. One thing complicating the issue is that Verizon has had some atrocious network issues recently, so IMO it's very hard to isolate what's a phone problem from a Verizon problem.

Perhaps the only concrete thing one can say right now is that if you get fast and reliable connections on your phone, then it doesn't matter what dBm is reported or how many bars you have. (If your phone works great, then enjoy it and stop worrying!)
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Old January 10th, 2012, 04:41 PM   #32 (permalink)
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As I've said, I don't think ICS plays nice with the radio yet and forces LTE drops prematurely. I didn't have any trouble with it whether on LTE or CDMA when I drove across the country to Seattle.
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Old January 10th, 2012, 04:42 PM   #33 (permalink)
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Ha ha I agree, Im just seriously debating returning my Razr for the Nexus and I want to cover ALL my bases before I jump into (or sit on) something I might regret. Im sure whichever phone I end up with will be great, I just want it to be the best.
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Old January 10th, 2012, 04:47 PM   #34 (permalink)
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Gotcha, found it. Im pulling in -66 dbms and its INSANELY fast. From what ive heard the Nexus is pulling in between 70 and 80 in good areas, so it shouldnt be THAT big of a change, correct?

And have we figured out if its hardware or software yet? And again, is this related to data or call quality?
If you are getting that strong 4G on Razr there, chances are Nexus will be just as good or even faster on 4G. Nexus would be probably -75~-85 there, but keep in mind that's 4G dBm, not 3G like Razr. I heard there is app measuring 3G, 4G dBm separately, so you may try that too.

It's only weak signal areas that data connection can be troubled (dropping 4G or taking long to switch radio) on Nexus. This is mostly for data. Nexus can do calls just fine even when signal bar is zero!
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Old April 1st, 2012, 10:10 AM   #35 (permalink)
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Surprised +85 dBm

So strange : all widgets and appli on my new android phone says +85 dBm !
so I have no clue to know exactly what's going on...

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Absolute lower is better? that's only for negative numbers. For very strong signal, dBm value actually becomes positive as shown in Wikipedia link above.

So in general, higher is always better, taking account of sign.
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Old April 1st, 2012, 11:40 AM   #36 (permalink)
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The best I've ever seen is -75 when literally an inch away from our femtocell at home.
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Old April 1st, 2012, 06:46 PM   #37 (permalink)
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Keep in mind..... the GN doesn't report signal strength in 1 digit increments. Its some weird list of specific values. If I recall, its like 65, 73, 83, 93, 103, 113, 120 or something similar. So its also tough to compare devices when you don't know if your 83 is actually an 88 or a 78.....
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Old April 4th, 2012, 09:35 AM   #38 (permalink)
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Absolute lower is better? that's only for negative numbers. For very strong signal, dBm value actually becomes positive as shown in Wikipedia link above.

So in general, higher is always better, taking account of sign.
I was under the impression that dbm was a measurement of losses.
So a perfect signal (lets say you are standing on top of the Verizon Tower) would be (0). There is no such thing as positive losses, and anyone can write on Wiki, that doesn't prove anything. ;-)

I know when we periodically test our fiber-optic cables, they put a known light source on one end, and then measure the light at the other end and the result is a negative dbm value. And that value represents the loss of light over the length of the cable. I know this is apples and oranges, but I think RF signals work the same way. They are broadcasting a known RF level, and the level being recieved by your antenna on your phone minus the original level being broadcast equals your dbm loss, and it's always negative. Even a zero signal isn't really possible, only hypothetically, but a positive value is not even hypothetically possible.
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Old April 4th, 2012, 11:52 AM   #39 (permalink)
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I was under the impression that dbm was a measurement of losses.
So a perfect signal (lets say you are standing on top of the Verizon Tower) would be (0). There is no such thing as positive losses, and anyone can write on Wiki, that doesn't prove anything. ;-)

I know when we periodically test our fiber-optic cables, they put a known light source on one end, and then measure the light at the other end and the result is a negative dbm value. And that value represents the loss of light over the length of the cable. I know this is apples and oranges, but I think RF signals work the same way. They are broadcasting a known RF level, and the level being recieved by your antenna on your phone minus the original level being broadcast equals your dbm loss, and it's always negative. Even a zero signal isn't really possible, only hypothetically, but a positive value is not even hypothetically possible.
You brought up good point. But unfortunately you are mistaken. What you are describing is pure "Decibel" (dB), which is logarithm of inverse transmission. You are correct that dB can't be positive value as it's measure of attenuation of electromagnetic power through device.

However, we are talking about "dBm" here, which is decibels in reference to one mW of power. 0 dBm means 1mW. So any power greater than 1mW means positive dBm. Read the definition/equations in above Wiki page. What matters to wireless radio device is absolute level of power received, not relative attenuation of signal power through antenna. Having good transmission through antenna doesn't necessarily mean it's getting higher EM power to radio.
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Old April 4th, 2012, 01:08 PM   #40 (permalink)
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You brought up good point. But unfortunately you are mistaken. What you are describing is pure "Decibel" (dB), which is logarithm of inverse transmission. You are correct that dB can't be positive value as it's measure of attenuation of electromagnetic power through device.

However, we are talking about "dBm" here, which is decibels in reference to one mW of power. 0 dBm means 1mW. So any power greater than 1mW means positive dBm. Read the definition/equations in above Wiki page. What matters to wireless radio device is absolute level of power received, not relative attenuation of signal power through antenna. Having good transmission through antenna doesn't necessarily mean it's getting higher EM power to radio.
and 1.21 Gigawatts would equal....


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Old April 4th, 2012, 02:04 PM   #41 (permalink)
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I know, in reality we will never see positive dBm value in cell devices. Just clarified its physical/mathematical definition.
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Old April 5th, 2012, 11:56 AM   #42 (permalink)
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I was under the impression that dbm was a measurement of losses.
No. Fix that statement and the rest of it will make sense.
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Old April 5th, 2012, 02:51 PM   #43 (permalink)
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You brought up good point. But unfortunately you are mistaken. What you are describing is pure "Decibel" (dB), which is logarithm of inverse transmission. You are correct that dB can't be positive value as it's measure of attenuation of electromagnetic power through device.

However, we are talking about "dBm" here, which is decibels in reference to one mW of power. 0 dBm means 1mW. So any power greater than 1mW means positive dBm. Read the definition/equations in above Wiki page. What matters to wireless radio device is absolute level of power received, not relative attenuation of signal power through antenna. Having good transmission through antenna doesn't necessarily mean it's getting higher EM power to radio.
I stand corrected.
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Old April 9th, 2012, 11:38 AM   #44 (permalink)
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Keep in mind..... the GN doesn't report signal strength in 1 digit increments. Its some weird list of specific values. If I recall, its like 65, 73, 83, 93, 103, 113, 120 or something similar. So its also tough to compare devices when you don't know if your 83 is actually an 88 or a 78.....
My GNex only reports odd numbers, 67,69,71 etc...

Looks like reception in the UK is pretty good! -51dbm

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Old April 9th, 2012, 05:36 PM   #45 (permalink)
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Apparently, full bars of 3G on my phone is reported as -75 dbm. It it was a really strong signal too, almost 800 kbps in speedtest.

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Old April 10th, 2012, 08:34 AM   #46 (permalink)
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Apparently, full bars of 3G on my phone is reported as -75 dbm. It it was a really strong signal too, almost 800 kbps in speedtest.

Only thing I would point out is signal strength and data speed need not go hand in hand. Your speed is also a function of congestion on the network and probably a host of other things as well. There are times when I have a great signal in terms of signal strength, yet 4G speeds are just "average" at 8-10 Mbps and other times with a lower signal strength data speeds are still really good, and then other times where speed and strength do track with each other.

Personally, I've never seen better than -75 dBm on my GNex. Also, the 4.0.4 update brought with it changes to the representation of bars from signal strength. Now a lower signal strength gives more bars, at least in 4G.
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Old April 10th, 2012, 11:36 PM   #47 (permalink)
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Only thing I would point out is signal strength and data speed need not go hand in hand. Your speed is also a function of congestion on the network and probably a host of other things as well. There are times when I have a great signal in terms of signal strength, yet 4G speeds are just "average" at 8-10 Mbps and other times with a lower signal strength data speeds are still really good, and then other times where speed and strength do track with each other.

Personally, I've never seen better than -75 dBm on my GNex. Also, the 4.0.4 update brought with it changes to the representation of bars from signal strength. Now a lower signal strength gives more bars, at least in 4G.
What do you mean? Those are amazing speeds for 3G here. I normally get around 200 kbps-400 kbps. I would highly doubt it would have anything to do with congestion. The nearest town population was only 800. I know what you mean with the strength to data speed ratio, but that was nothing short of a miracle that I could achieve those speeds on 3G.
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Old April 11th, 2012, 09:53 AM   #48 (permalink)
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lol mine at home when forced to 3G stays at -120.....and it sucks.

edit* just to add though this doesn't affect my call quality at all however. In fact i haven't dropped one call and it sounds just as clear if not more than my DX. Also my DroidX would occasionally drop calls here at home.
Mine is often at -100 to -114 at home yet I don't drop calls. also in my home is a Rezound which reflects -50 ish as I have a network extender. The Nexus dbm numbers are not boosted by the network extender.

I also had similar results as you with the DroidX. I have to say that was the worst phone I've ever had. And I've had/have a lot of phones.
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Old April 11th, 2012, 12:24 PM   #49 (permalink)
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VZW sent out the RazrMAXX to replace my Nexus after several poor reception issues. Supposedly the Maxx has an amazing antenna in it and VZW claims there is a tower less then 1 mile from my house. So I thought I would check the dbm, went to status and was shocked to see such low numbers as I usually get -105 - -113 with the Nexus and suddenly I am seeing an -86. That was fine and great but I wanted to force the radio in to LTE only and see what we could get. So on the max I dialed ##7764726, pwd:000000, went in to test mode and locked it on to LTE only. I went back to check the signal strength and now it shows -120.

Could I have possibly been sent out a Maxx with a poor radio and antenna? Should I send it back and keep trying or do I just stick with the Nexus? For me, I am not impressed with the Maxx. I am unable to get comfortable with blur and miss the screen of the Nexus. If the signal reception was night and day I could understand. However at this point I am far happier with the Nexus. Am I nuts?
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Old April 11th, 2012, 12:29 PM   #50 (permalink)
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VZW sent out the RazrMAXX to replace my Nexus after several poor reception issues. Supposedly the Maxx has an amazing antenna in it and VZW claims there is a tower less then 1 mile from my house. So I thought I would check the dbm, went to status and was shocked to see such low numbers as I usually get -105 - -113 with the Nexus and suddenly I am seeing an -86. That was fine and great but I wanted to force the radio in to LTE only and see what we could get. So on the max I dialed ##7764726, pwd:000000, went in to test mode and locked it on to LTE only. I went back to check the signal strength and now it shows -120.

Could I have possibly been sent out a Maxx with a poor radio and antenna? Should I send it back and keep trying or do I just stick with the Nexus? For me, I am not impressed with the Maxx. I am unable to get comfortable with blur and miss the screen of the Nexus. If the signal reception was night and day I could understand. However at this point I am far happier with the Nexus. Am I nuts?
Try getting this app:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.sensorly.viewer&feature=search_resu lt#?t=W251bGwsMSwyLDEsImNvbS5zZW5zb3JseS52aWV3ZXIi XQ..

As far as I know, it is the only reliable way to view both 3G and 4G signal levels on both gingerbread-based phones (which show 3G bars/dBm when in 4G) and ICS. I'd use that to do your comparisons.

Do you still have the Nexus? If so, use Sensorly with the MAXX and Nexus side by side in a few locations in your house and then you're at least comparing apples and apples.
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