Since the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, many a user has noticed fewer 4G LTE status bars than they are used to, leading to the idea that the phone must be suffering from some sort of radio bug. The one or two bars of service were accompanied by reports of dropped calls and low signal strength when measured at the dBm level. The reality, as per an investigation by AnandTech, is that the Galaxy Nexus may actually be reporting LTE signal strength more accurately than its Verizon predecessors.
Compared head-to-head with the LTE Droid Charge, nearly identical dBm readings resulted in two drastically different sets of status bars. For the Droid Charge, four bars. For the Galaxy Nexus, a mere one bar. It is important to note that the Charge and Galaxy Nexus use identical LTE radio chips, so the difference in signal strength opinion must operate at the software level. Ice Cream Sandwich seems to be reporting signal strength more precisely than previous versions of Android. The Galaxy Nexus theoretically should be receiving the same quality of signal as any other 4G LTE device operating on Verizon’s network within the same vicinity, regardless of a discrepancy in status bars. The strength of signal will likely grow as Verizon continues to improve their LTE network, and when it gets firing on all cylinders it will be a hard beast to slow down.