What is the range of a cellular network? Most people associate “good coverage” with the number of signal bars visible on the smartphone screen. In fact, the bars do not talk too much about the power of the signal received from the base station. Detailed information on this subject in the form of an exact numeric value expressed in dBm can be obtained in the Android setting menu. However, it turns out that the new Android P will be able to hide this option at the request of a specific operator. Unfortunately, this change is not limited to the so-called branded software.

Operators, by selling smartphones, deliver them with Android modified by themselves. These modifications are aimed at adapting the device to a given network and ensuring 100% compatibility with the offered services. However, offers without a device are becoming more and more popular. Also a lot of people prefer to buy in a supermarket or the so-called second hand. A similar situation also occurs in many other countries. That’s why Google has placed the vendor.xml file on Android, which allows you to save settings specific to the operator. It can be used, for example, to activate VoLTE support for devices with non-branded software. Android smartphone recognizes the network by the information stored on the SIM card. However, recent changes discovered in the Android Open Source Project are a bit worrying. Operators will be able to use the vendor.xml file to hide detailed information about the power of the received signal.

Changes made to Android P do not affect the API used by the Speed ​​Test application.

Analysis of changes introduced in the source code of Android indicates that the new feature only allows to hide information about the network’s coverage. However, applications measuring the signal level will have access to it. Thanks to this, you can easily test which smartphone best receives the signal from the nearest base station of your operator. However, if you have SIM cards from several suppliers, you can check which provider has the best coverage in your home. The signal strength meter available in the Speed ​​Test application can also be used to find a place where you have the best reception. A stronger signal translates into a faster-running Internet, so this information can be useful when deciding whether to locate an LTE router.

Source: XDA-Developers