How to activate your iPhone's hidden Field Test Mode

Forget looking at how many bars - or, on the iPhone, dots - of signal you have. Geek out by activating you iPhone's hidden Field Test Mode.

If you're measuring your cellphone signal by eyeballing the little dots in the top-left hand of your iPhone's display, then you're really missing out on a cool feature by not using the built-in Field Test Mode feature.

You access this feature from your Phone app, but before you do that you need to do a couple of things:

  • Turn off Wi-Fi (Settings > WiFi)
  • Turn off LTE, because these readings can be different from standard cellphone signals (Settings > Cellular > Enable LTE)

Now you've got that out of the way, go to your Phone app, switch to the keypad and dial the following:


Now press Call and you'll activate Field Test Mode.

iPhone's hidden Field Test Mode

To exit, just press the Home button.

If you want to replace the signal strength dots with a decibel value, press and hold down the power button until the Slide to power off message appears. Then release the power button and then press and hold the Home button for around five to ten seconds until the Field Test Mode screen disappears.

A high signal score is around -50 decibels, while a weak signal will be around -115 decibels.

If you want the dots back, simply reboot your iPhone (by holding down both the power and Home button) or enter the Field Test Mode and this time exit it by pressing Home.

I've been called a lot of things in my time, and "not a radio frequency engineer" is one of them, so if you want to know more about what all these settings mean you'll need to do some Googling/Wikipediaing.

See also:

Approaching iPhone 7: Evolution of Apple's flagship

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