For the better part of a year I’ve been trying to test the Wilson Sleek Smartphone Antenna Booster. Problem is, I kept going too far away from civilisation. But apparently Death Valley is just far enough.
Price: $US99 RRP
Frequency:800/1900MHz (all carriers)
Includes: Antenna, sticky dash mount, 12V to USB power plug
There’s the problem with a smartphone antenna booster: It needs a signal to boost in the first place. Go too far out in the sticks – or even just behind the business end of a mountain – and the Sleek is useless. Not because it’s a bad product, but simply because it needs a signal to pick up in the first place.
Wilson sells a whole line of antenna boosters, including some that are designed to be permanently installed in vehicles or homes and attached to giant antenna. Those are the sorts of amplifiers you’d use if it appeared you didn’t have any signal at all.
The Sleek, on the other hand, is best for when you have a little signal – say, just voice but no steady data or lots of dropped calls – and need a modest boost.
But when it works it just works. In the middle of Saline Springs in Death Valley, my iPhone 4 would occasionally show one bar of connection to AT&T – no data and no voice calls would go through. In the exact same location, using the Sleek brought me up to two bars, making it possible to check my email (over EDGE) and make calls.