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 Jul 29, 2008 - 09:27 AM - by Michael
* Devices Lie

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PC Games/Hardware/Microsoft
Over at Dan's Data, an article on something most techies know - those status indicators are not what they claim to be.



A high-signal strength is like your friend shouting at you. A high noise level at the same time is like your friend shouting at you while you both stand in the front row at a rock concert.

(Actually, for phones and Wi-Fi, it's often more like your friend shouting at you while you're both attending a rock concert in an echo chamber.)

So if you've ever wondered why your phone can work fine with one rather unsteady bar of "signal", or be noisy and cut out when it's got five bars, that's why. The ratio of signal to noise can vary wildly from second to second, in many ordinary mobile-phone situations.

It's within the bounds of possibility that there's some phone out there whose "signal bars" actually do give a realistic estimate of the actual signal quality (rather than mere quantity), but you shouldn't count on that display telling you anything really useful if you're not actually on a call at the time.

 

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