Android users can access a variety of information about their phones, including the true signal strength and detailed battery life.
Apple may have mysteriously removed the Field Test mode from iOS4 and the iPhone 4, but Android users continue to have such information at their disposal. Though Android pros have no doubt discovered this option already, novice users may not know that it exists.
To start, access the main Settings page and choose the "Status" option under the "About phone" menu. There you'll find an assortment of useful facts like the battery level, the carrier and network you're using (such as whether you're on 3G or not), your roaming status, the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth address, and the time since you last turned on the phone. For some reason, I find that steadily ticking clock on the last option particularly compelling.
Midway down the page, however, you'll find a field labeled actual signal strength in decibels (dBm). Compared with the bars on at the top of your display, this is a much more accurate measure of true signal strength. To read it correctly, just remember that the higher number, the better the signal. And since the measure is a negative number, higher numbers are those closer to zero. Around CNET's San Francisco offices, I average -65 decibels, which is pretty decent. In areas with poor coverage, however, I've seen it creep to the -80 decibel range. Try it for yourself as you travel around your neighborhood and commute.
Yet, Android doesn't stop there. By punching in a special "Info" code you can gain access to a treasure trove of information about your device. Some of it will be easily decipherable, while other facts may not make sense at all. I'm sure that some of you know about it already--it's particularly useful for app developers--but Android Atlas is here for all Android users.
To start off, go to your phone dialer and type "*#*#4636#*#*". You'll then go to a menu screen with the following options. I used the Motorola
I love that Android serves up so much input, but Froyo may spell the end of the operating system's Info mode. While I was able to use the code on the Droid X and a