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Call Drop: 9 Reasons Your Phone Is Dropping Calls

a woman holding and looking at a mobile phone

Mobile phones have simplified our lives in countless ways, connecting us instantly with people from all over the world. They’ve become a vital — if addicting — accessory. 

Unfortunately, this makes it all the more annoying when something goes wrong with your cell phone. Perhaps the most universally irritating issue is when a call drops. Few things can make you want to throw your phone into a lake faster than having conversations constantly interrupted. 

Before you decide it's time to upgrade your phone, let’s explore what causes a call drop and what you can do to minimize dropped calls.

What Causes Call Drops?

A call drop is when your mobile phone call connection ends unexpectedly due to technical reasons. Dropped calls can be frustrating, especially if they occur during a crucial moment, like in a job interview or a meaningful conversation with a friend.

From a technical standpoint, a call drop happens when the signal between your mobile phone and the nearest cell phone tower is lost or disrupted. Several factors can contribute to this issue, such as physical obstructions, interference from other electronic devices, or even weather conditions.

Network congestion during peak hours or in densely populated areas can also lead to call drops. If the bandwidth is exceeded, then calls can be dropped and other telecommunications services can be limited. 

Some of these reasons are within your control, while others, like congestion, might not be. Luckily, for most call drop problems, there’s a fix. 

9 Reasons for Persistent Call Drops

When you understand why you’re experiencing call drop issues, finding the right solution is easier. Here are some common culprits:

1. Weak Signal Strength

Weak signal strength is one of the most common reasons for call drops. As you can probably imagine, being closer to a cell tower usually means a stronger signal. Naturally, the opposite is also true — the farther you are from a cell tower, the weaker the signal gets and the more signal issues that you experience. 

Distance from a cell tower isn’t the only thing that can cause weak signal strength. Obstructions like metal, concrete, trees, mountains, and hills can cause problems whether you’re in the city or the country. Also, severe weather conditions like heavy rain, thunderstorms, hail, fog, or snow can interfere with your cell phone signal.

It’s also a possibility that your phone could be out of your carrier’s LTE, 4G, or 5G coverage area. The major service providers (Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T) feature coverage for most of the country, but there are still spotty areas. If you think this is happening to you, check out our article on how to boost signal strength. 

Staying in areas with strong signal strength, such as near windows when indoors, can also decrease dropped calls. You may find that your dropped-call rate goes down when you stay away from known network dead zones with no service. Consider a signal booster if you live or work in an area with consistently weak signal strength, or use Wi-Fi calling or Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) to bypass network issues in a pinch. You can also reset network settings on both iPhones and Androids to refresh your network connectivity.

2. Network Congestion

Just like a highway, mobile networks can only handle a certain amount of traffic before things start to slow. It’s not uncommon for network congestion during certain times of the day to impact cell service, especially in densely populated areas. As the networks struggle to handle a high call volume, you might experience internet connectivity issues such as slower internet speeds and cell service drops.

3. Handover Disruption

In a mobile network, a handover occurs when a call is transferred from one cell tower to another as you move. If all goes smoothly as planned, handovers should go completely unnoticed by cell phone users. However, disruptions in the handover process can result in call drops. This doesn’t happen often, but if the network is congested, or if you’re in an area with a lot of buildings or other obstacles where your signal strength is weak, it can be more difficult for your cell phone to connect with a new tower in which case the handover can be interrupted, resulting in a call drop.

4. Software Bugs or Glitches

Call drops can occur due to outdated software on your mobile device. This outdated software may harbor bugs or be incompatible with recent network upgrades, resulting in dropped calls. 

Regularly conducting recommended software updates for your device's operating system and apps ensures compatibility with the latest network technology and can help minimize glitches and call drops. In some cases, simply restarting your phone is enough to resolve any connectivity issues that you might have been experiencing. 

5. Hardware Malfunction

Problems with your phone’s hardware can lead to call drops. This could include issues with the phone's antenna, processor, battery, radio, or SIM card.

Similarly, if the carrier doesn’t properly maintain its network infrastructure, it can result in dropped calls. This is very uncommon – more typically, it’s on the side of your phone. For your part, regular maintenance (cleaning the SIM card slot, using protective equipment, managing apps, and avoiding overheating the processor) along with timely phone upgrades (every two to three years) can help prevent these issues.

6. Interference

Various types of interference, such as other electronic devices or even other cellular networks, can affect call quality and lead to call drops. 

For example, using your phone in an area with many other electronic devices (routers, microwaves, Bluetooth devices, and other phones), such as a busy office or packed stadium, can sometimes cause interference and result in call failure. 

7. User Error

Sometimes, call drops happen simply when a user accidentally hits the “end call” button or makes another error like enabling airplane mode, forgetting to charge their phone, or incorrectly setting the call forwarding feature. Everybody makes mistakes, and sometimes that’s the reason for a dropped call. 

8. Server Outage

Problems on the carrier's end, such as server outages, can also cause call drops. When a wireless carrier's server is down, it can disrupt the network, leading to more dropped calls. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to fix this issue except wait it out. In the meantime, if you still have internet service or a Wi-Fi signal, then you can check online to see if your carrier is working to repair it. If your provider is regularly prone to outages, it may be time for a switch, in which case, our Plan Finder can help.

9. Problems With Your SIM Card

Sometimes, your SIM card can be the reason for call drops. If your SIM card has expired or is damaged, it can affect your phone's ability to connect to the network. Ensuring that your SIM card is in good condition and up to date can help prevent this issue. 

The Bottom Line

Now that you understand what causes call drops and how to avoid them, hopefully, dropped calls will be a thing of your past. 

However, if your phone is dropping calls, and it’s more than a few years old, it may be time for a new one. If that’s the case, Navi’s free, unbiased Phone Deal Finder below can show you the best phone deals you qualify for at your current carrier compared to offers from other carriers, all in a matter of seconds. 

On the other hand, if your phone keeps dropping calls despite it being fairly new and in good condition, it might be time to consider switching to a different wireless carrier with better, more reliable signal strength in your area.

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