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Hands-On With the Reach79 Signal Boosting Case - Does It Work?

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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13,122



Earlier this month, we shared an iPhone case called the Reach79, which debuted at CES. The Reach79 case claimed to boost the signal strength and performance of the iPhone, improving battery life, reducing dropped calls, and improving download speeds, statements that were quite controversial in our forums.

Readers were understandably skeptical of the Reach79's promise that it could deliver up to 2x stronger signal strength, so MacRumors decided to go hands-on with the Reach79 case to see if we could prove the company's claims.

We've been extensively testing the Reach79 case on an iPhone 6 Plus for more than a week in various areas around the San Francisco Bay Area, but after several days of use, it remains difficult to conclusively say that the case improves signal in a meaningful way due to mixed test results. For a quick summary of what we found, scroll down to the "Bottom Line" section, or read on for our full results.

Our Testing

We used the Reach79 case on an iPhone 6 Plus connected to the AT&T network on multiple days, at multiple times, and in multiple locations, both indoor and outdoor. The phone was put into Field Test mode so that signal strength could be viewed as a raw decibel number rather than as dots or "bars," in order to better determine if and when the case was improving signal. All testing was done in the hand or up against the head, which is how the case is designed to work.

We also tested with the Ookla Mobile Speed Test app to see if the case improved data speeds, but we were told that this is not a particularly reliable testing method due to the many factors that can affect data transfer.

If there's one word that sums up our testing, it's inconsistent. At times, when the Reach79 case was placed on the iPhone, signal definitely improved as evidenced by the raw numbers and speed tests, but just as often, putting the case on did nothing to improve signal, or even seemed to degrade it somewhat.


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Article Link: Hands-On With the Reach79 Signal Boosting Case - Does It Work?
 

maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
67,512
34,769
Boston
Impressive, I'll have to consider this, though my signal strength in the Boston area is strong.
 
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dlewis23

macrumors 65816
Oct 23, 2007
1,022
1,162
I've been trying to get one of these to do a real speed test comparison but the Marketing team never seems to get back to me :confused:
 
Comment

ckane

macrumors newbie
Jan 27, 2015
1
0
What about NFC testing with Apple Pay? My experience with the case is even worse with the phone constantly prompting me to hold phone nearer.
 
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firewood

macrumors 604
Jul 29, 2003
7,931
1,185
Silicon Valley
Parasitic antenna elements (as on a yagi or beam antenna) don't boost signal overall, they just aim more RF power or sensitivity in certain directions (and thus less in other directions!). So whether there is any benefit depends on exactly how you position or aim the case, where the cell tower is located, and how the RF waves are bouncing around in your exact locale, which can be nearly random. Thus the random results.
 
Comment

nutmac

macrumors 601
Mar 30, 2004
4,953
3,843
So the bottom line is, the case might improve the signal, but only very slightly or it not at all.

What is more measurable are the price and overall protection the case offers. The case is clearly overpriced and while it does seem to offer at least solid drop protection, it looks rather bulky and all those holes are just asking for dust and other particles to squeeze in between the phone and the case, eventually scratching the phone's surface.
 
Comment

AngerDanger

macrumors 603
Dec 9, 2008
5,048
24,739
As long as I can purchase a case with patented Q*bert and Tetris technology, signal strength couldn't matter less.

 
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chrmjenkins

macrumors 603
Oct 29, 2007
5,322
154
CA
Parasitic antenna elements (as on a yagi or beam antenna) don't boost signal overall, they just aim more RF power or sensitivity in certain directions (and thus less in other directions!). So whether there is any benefit depends on exactly how you position or aim the case, where the cell tower is located, and how the RF waves are bouncing around in your exact locale, which can be nearly random. Thus the random results.

Quite simply, if you don't increase the surface area dramatically, you're not going to see much change in results.

If Apple genuinely wanted better results, they'd produce more SKUs so that they could focus on supporting a smaller set of bands with less insertion loss in the front end. My guess is that current performance is good enough for most people and pretty competitive with the industry now.
 
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kolax

macrumors G3
Mar 20, 2007
9,181
115
It's really just a glorified reflector which will produce random results.

This smells like a sponsored article, and if it is, I'd appreciate MacRumors saying so, in a similar way Amazon's reviews state whether that reviewer got the product for free or not. There's a big difference in opinion when you spend money on a product versus getting it for free or being paid to test it.
 
Comment

avanpelt

macrumors 68030
Jun 2, 2010
2,937
3,838
At the current time, it is universal and will work with most U.S.-based carriers, including AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile, but Sprint is unsupported. A Sprint-specific case will be available for purchase in the near future.

...because Sprint's network is so awful that they need to try to produce an even more powerful case to try to make the Sprint network usable. Good luck with that...it'll just be lipstick on a pig.
 
Comment

bmad5

macrumors newbie
Jun 20, 2011
12
0
Higher octane gas only boosts performance in engines designed for it. Or more accurately, engines designed for higher octane gas will have performance loss on lower octane gas (and it can be bad for the engine). Putting high octane gas in a nonperformance engine is like thinking charging a phone capable of drawing 1 amp charges faster on a 2 amp charger.
 
Comment

chrmjenkins

macrumors 603
Oct 29, 2007
5,322
154
CA
It's really just a glorified reflector which will produce random results.

This smells like a sponsored article, and if it is, I'd appreciate MacRumors saying so, in a similar way Amazon's reviews state whether that reviewer got the product for free or not. There's a big difference in opinion when you spend money on a product versus getting it for free or being paid to test it.

Almost all review sites get products for free that they test. This obviously isn't an all positive article and there are no affiliate links in the body. I don't see an issue.
 
Comment

ArtOfWarfare

macrumors G3
Nov 26, 2007
9,058
4,994
What I got out of this:
- Expensive case doesn't work well, if at all.
- Look at this neat thing called Field Test Mode!
 
Comment

avanpelt

macrumors 68030
Jun 2, 2010
2,937
3,838
If Apple genuinely wanted better results, they'd produce more SKUs so that they could focus on supporting a smaller set of bands with less insertion loss in the front end. My guess is that current performance is good enough for most people and pretty competitive with the industry now.

Exactly. Most consumers want as close to a universal phone as possible...not a phone that can only be used on a small subset of carriers.

As a Verizon customer, I was there with the iPhone 4 and 4S and it sucked. Want to switch to AT&T? Sorry, you have to buy a different iPhone. Even the Verizon iPhone 5 was a letdown in terms of U.S. carrier interoperability...it worked on AT&T and T-Mobile for Edge, 3G, and HSPA+ but not for LTE.
 
Comment

divideby

macrumors member
Sep 16, 2009
55
40
Didn't they claim battery life would be improved because of stronger signal strength? This sounds like it may be slightly easier to prove. shrug
 
Comment

sonlte

macrumors newbie
Jan 27, 2015
1
0
Random is the key word

There are no details of the antenna design that I have seen, but I do know it's tricky and highly unlikely the antenna is multi band for NFC/BT...2/5GHz WiFi , 700/850/1900/2100/2300/2500MHZ for 3G/4G (carrier centric but point is you have to support more than one of those at a time) and also not likely to help MIMO performance (multi beam)...so your milage will totally vary depending on the angle of arrival, the vSWR of the connection of the antennae, the frequencies in use etc etc etc... BTW- the networks are primarily interference constrained so a boosted signal doesn't automagically = better performance.

Hard to justify purchasing as the payoff of when it can be helpful is so low in many of the use cases that it hardly seems worth spending $60 on.

If your signal is really holding you back, complain and/or get a small cell (ex: In USA ATT Microcell or Verizon/Sprint version etc..) ... longer term you should really complain to Apple- have them put in interference mitigation into the chipsets and add more antenna performance (diversity, gain etc...)
 
Comment

avanpelt

macrumors 68030
Jun 2, 2010
2,937
3,838
Didn't they claim battery life would be improved because of stronger signal strength?

For the $60 to $70 this case costs, you can buy a 20,000+ mAh battery and have a phone that lasts a week or more with constant use before needing to find a wall outlet. Or just spend $20 and get one of the lipstick-sized batteries. ;)
 
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