Bad reception on cellular and Whatsapp calls, do I need a new phone?

I’ve got a ZTE Kis3 which has suited my needs since 2014. However for about a year the cell service seems to cut out a lot more than usual. I’ve tried using Whatsapp for calls but that’s useless as I can’t hear the other person or vice versa. WIth various people I’ve not had one clear call.

I’m based in the UK and have been using Virgin’s Hub3. It had issues which I sort of resolved using a Belkin N wireless router. However the wifi was inconsistant (devices would only sometimes connect) so I switched back to the Hub3. With either of them, calls on Whatsapp were hopeless. I haven’t tried calling using my data plan as I assume it would only be worse than wifi.

The phone is running 4.4.2 and I can’t update any further. I’m wondering if I need a 4G phone. Over wifi I can watch youtube videos and browse and that’s fine. It’s just calls I’m having issues with. Is there anything I can do to improve calls or could this very much be a phone issue?


I’m surprised your phone worked for you until now. With 256M of ram total, and WhatsApp still running on 4.4 - amazing.

I’d try the comparing data plan vs wifi, it’s an easy test to make.

If that doesn’t cut it for you, and assuming you don’t like changing phones often, it might make sense for you to splurge once off, a little bit, on something like a pixel 3a or a oneplus 7 , which come with new Android and are likely to get frequent and official updates for a while.

Things should feel a lot snappier on those two compared to what you have now.

(And before you ask, yes… £500 phones now fall into mid-tier market segment, and no it’s not caused by brexit devauling the pound, globally 1000 (usd/eur/gbp) is now apparently not outrageous to expect the market to pay for a phone , yuck!)

In brighter news, if you do discover your wifi sucks, you might be able to fix that easily, most likely by getting a ubiquiti ap ac lite, (that’s what they use in all those coffee shops where thousands of people a day login with Facebook to “free WiFi”), just tell us before hand because there might be some corner cases where that’s a waste of money too, or one might not be enough, there’s options there too.

1 Like

I think you should get a new phone.

I was using my Haweui y530-U00 until 2018. Then the majority of app developers stopped supporting 4.4, including the Whatsapp team. Also my mbanking app removed the support for 4.4, presumably for security reasons, so i had to upgrade.

Don’t buy a Nokia.

Thanks. Whatsapp does take a few seconds to load (sometimes ten) but it does work. I was thinking maybe making calls it just can’t handle. However I did update it about a month ago and that went okay. If it didn’t work with 4.4.2 then surely it wouldn’t install and tell me that I need to update the OS.

I’m not spending £500 on a phone, I still think that’s ridiculous. If you’re on a two year contract then okay, £20/30 a month is justifiable. Not even my PC is worth £500. I may look around for something second hand. Will give the data plan a go though.

1 Like

Tried a voice call with Whatsapp using data plan but same problem, I could hear the person I called but they couldn’t hear me.

Agreed. Don’t know what are the prices in your country, but I bought my nokia 8 for around £220( out of which 25% is VAT) . Surely you can find sth decent around the 200 price point. If you’re looking in the 2nd hand market try to find one with a removable battery as the stock one is probably at its grave.

1 Like

Good point about the battery. The Kis3 was £30 back in 2014, so I’m really looking at £100 maximum. I’ve never been a big phone user as the Kis3 filled a gap I didn’t really make use of. It’s just stupid things like the Whatapp not working that forces me to upgrade. Apart from that there’s no reason for me to get a new phone.

1 Like

If microphone behaves the same on your 3g data connection, then it’s definitely your phone.

The pixel 3a is £400 incl. VAT/shipping, (if you can live with a single sim slot), there might be some kind of financing deal ~(that would probably turn it into £100 down + 400 or 450 over 24 months, because insurances and warranties)…~ worth looking around.

I’m not that enthusiastic about the £100 second hand option (I usually change phones every year and half or two). Not sure what you can get (and if you can refurbish/replace the battery easily as soon as you get it)

Edit: Curry’s does financing, it’s not as bad as I’d originally guessed: link

If you are going to purchase a “new” used phone (in case you can’t fix your current phone (I’d recommend a full factory reset first and try again!)), looking into flagship phones from 2016-2017, in brand new or refurb conditions. They are generally $100-$200 USD/Euro, and plenty fast, even running recently-updated apps.

I currently use a Zenfone 2 (Ze551ml), LG G5, and HTC One M7, and although they are all beginning to slow (especially the M7, but I’m thinking it’s mainly the flash storage slowing it down, not the processor), they are still perfectly useable (as long as you are fine with possible having someone remotely hack your phone due to an old O.S).

Thanks but I really can’t justify spending that much, especially if I’m going for a financial deal. There are more important things that that money can go towards. Second hand is risky so I see it as a last ditch option if I assume it might only last a year.

Yeah, I was looking at the Moto 2, a few Huawai ones and an Honor that were just under £100. A full factory reset might be an option.

I generally don’t like the idea of having access to accounts in a device that I can easily lose or have stolen. It was bad enough with a laptop. It’s why I always try to keep things to the bare minimum on a phone. It’s awkward sometimes but it lessens my paranoia. But as society and tech moves on, you get pushed into it.

1 Like

So I finally managed to reset the phone and lo and behold Whatsapp calls are working. Not sure about whether it’s improved my cell reception but we’ll see. I’m running the latest version of Whatsapp but I’ve got a lot more internal storage, over a gig. Whereas before I only had a couple of hundred MB. I did see in my history, before the reset, that I had one successful Whatapp call for half an hour. After that it was very short and missed calls. So I’m thinking maybe it needs internal storage to work properly. :thinking:

I’ve also been pointed towards a possible software upgrade to Android ver. 7. But maybe I’ll leave that for another thread.

Moto G is still a good buy for its cost, my younger bother generally tries to hold on to his moto g for as long as possible before buying the new one. Since he uses his phone for entertainment as well and overall just stresses the phone more heavily, it usually follows a 3 or 4 yr lifespan before he has to replace it.