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ReachCase for Samsung Galaxy S8: Maximize signal performance while adding drop protection

The Samsung Galaxy S8 already has the best cellular signal performance of all devices I have tested, but there are still areas where coverage can be spotty. With the ReachCase, calls are no longer dropped in these areas.
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1 of 5 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Samsung Galaxy S8 ReachCase retail package

A couple of months ago my wife tried moving to an Apple iPhone 7, but then went to a Samsung Galaxy S8 primarily due to signal strength.

We are on T-Mobile (the ReachCase works for GSM carriers such as T-Mobile and AT&T) and in some areas of our neighborhood and surrounding locations, we experience gaps in coverage. After using the new ReachCase advanced antenna case for the Galaxy S8, my wife is convinced that the combination of this case and the S8 solves all of her signal issues. It is available now for $44.99.

To start with, I asked my wife to use the case on the Galaxy S8 for a couple of weeks, making calls in areas where she normally sees calls dropped. This includes some valleys between woods in our neighborhood and inside various stores where she stocks greeting cards. She stated with excitement that calls are no longer dropping and she is seeing much more consistent performance.

While these real world observations are valid, I wanted to confirm there wasn't some kind of placebo effect happening with the case. I took the S8 and ReachCase out for testing while looking at the signal strength readings in dB's.

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2 of 5 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Slide down the back for maximum signal strength

The signal strength of your phone is measured in dB's with values appearing as negative numbers. The lower the negative dB rating, the better the signal strength. The scale is logaritmic so the change in dB means more than just the raw value. Antenna79, the makers of the ReachCase, advertise that you can see up to a three times improvement in signal strength.

Looking just at the bars on your phone doesn't give you an accurate measurement of signal strength and you may not see any change in those bars with the ReachCase. A three times improvement in signal strength can be indicated by five dB. On some phones, it could take up to a 10 dB improvement to change a bar on your phone status line, which is a 10x improvement in signal strength.

So, you are not likely to pop on the ReachCase and see three more bars magically appear on your phone or see massive changes in dB levels. In my testing in various areas, I saw consistent improvements of two to five dB when extending the ReachCase back slider down. ReachCase has been tested by independent third party labs and has shown to increase LTE signal strength up to three times.

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3 of 5 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Front view of the extended ReachCase slider

The ReachCase snaps securely onto your phone and provides a soft touch cover with drop protection up to six feet. Just putting on the case gives you some improvement in signal strength, but to maximize the improvement you slide down the back panel. I saw an improvement with the case on and then when sliding the back down could see one to two dB improvement over just having the case in place.

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4 of 5 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Back of the ReachCase

The back of the ReachCase has an attractive design with a clear indicator for you to extend the panel down for optimal signal strength.

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5 of 5 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Camera opening

The openings are ample for the camera while the case helps you hit the fingerprint sensor a bit easier too. There are raised buttons for power, volume, and Bixby.

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