How to keep your Android connected to 3G in a fringe coverage area
Almost everyone who has ever used a cell phone has undoubtedly run into this problem before: You’re in a fringe coverage area, which causes your phone to constantly bounce between different signals, networks, or towers, thus resulting in a phone that mostly acts useless. Paul has encountered this problem while using Sprint’s LTE network, and most recently I’ve encountered it with my LG Nexus 4 on T-Mobile.
In my specific case, I’ve discovered several areas around town in which I’m constantly bouncing back and forth between EDGE and 3G/HSPA+. This causes my phone to struggle to maintain a data connection, and sometimes I also get stuck on EDGE – which is practically unusable – even though I’m in an area that I know is covered with HSPA+.
The fix is relatively simple, and just involves a few quick steps:
Dial *#*#4636#*#* on your stock phone dialer.
- Select Phone information, and find where you can set your preferred network type. On the Nexus 4, it should default to WCDMA preferred.
- Select WCDMA only, and press the Home button.
Your radio will briefly toggle off and on, and then you should be all set. Your phone will only connect to 3G/HSPA+ networks going forward, which means it will stop bouncing down to EDGE in fringe areas. You’ll still be able to make and receive phone calls, too – just be aware that you’ll lose signal completely if you go to a GSM/EDGE-only area.
You should also note that Sprint and Verizon CDMA customers can do something similar by selecting EVDO only, but both incoming and outgoing phone calls will not work. It’s also possible to use an app like QuickShortCutMaker to make a shortcut to this menu (called Testing), so you don’t need to remember the special dialer code anymore. And while the dialer code has worked on every Android device I’ve ever tried, do keep in mind that carrier and manufacturer customizations might disable this feature. Your mileage may vary.