What do the signal bars actually indicate?

awilliams1701

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I know that LTE is data only and still requires a separate radio for voice. I've been wondering if the bars are indicating the LTE signal, the voice signal or the average of the two?

One of the reasons why I'm asking is that I frequently have the voice cut out on me even with 3 bars. I think its a problem with the tower itself having bad lines going to it, but I don't actually know. I have a 928 on Verizon if that makes any difference.
 

awilliams1701

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Wow, I never thought I'd use this (and I am answering the question in the post title)
QI - Nobody Knows, The Meaning of the Signal Bars on your Phone - YouTube

Great video, I'm aware the actual value indicated by the bars is relative and somewhat meaning less, but I'm actually asking does it represent data only, voice only, or some kind of combination of the two. I suppose even that can fall into the category of no body knows as well. I just don't get why if I have 2 radios in operation simultaneously, why don't I have 2 sets of bars?
 

foxbat121

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Only CDMA phones require two radio. GSM phones only need one radio. What happens is that when you need to use phone part, the radio will fall back to 3G HSPA mode so that you can use voice and data at the same time.

On the topic Verizon phones, in the past, it has been discovered via Verizon's Galaxy Nexus that Verizon actually use CDMA radio signal frequency for signal bar display. The actual LTE signal strength is never displayed. The reason behind is that Verizon has a much robust and widely covered CDMA network than LTE network at that time. So, display CDMA signal strength helps cover up that fact. Not sure if it is still the case or WP phones have different implementation.
 

awilliams1701

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Only CDMA phones require two radio. GSM phones only need one radio. What happens is that when you need to use phone part, the radio will fall back to 3G HSPA mode so that you can use voice and data at the same time.

On the topic Verizon phones, in the past, it has been discovered via Verizon's Galaxy Nexus that Verizon actually use CDMA radio signal frequency for signal bar display. The actual LTE signal strength is never displayed. The reason behind is that Verizon has a much robust and widely covered CDMA network than LTE network at that time. So, display CDMA signal strength helps cover up that fact. Not sure if it is still the case or WP phones have different implementation.

Actually I've heard regardless of carrier LTE doesn't do what is normally called voice. It is data only. There is VoLTE, but its essentially VOIP using LTE data. But that is exactly what I'm asking is the display for LTE data or CDMA voice? Just because the nexus displays the voice and not the LTE, doesn't mean that WP does that.
 

foxbat121

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Actually I've heard regardless of carrier LTE doesn't do what is normally called voice. It is data only. There is VoLTE, but its essentially VOIP using LTE data.

You are correct, all current deployment of LTE is data only. But in the case of GSM phones, there is only one radio and one signal strength. Only CDMA phones have two radio and two signal strength (actually, CDMA version of iPhone 5 has only one radio as well, it will do the fall back to CDMA just like GSM phones).
 

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