Originally Posted by takeshi
...and that correlation and causation aren't the same thing. I.e. - lower bars with a new device may not be directly related to the new device. Have you checked reception with another device on the same carrier in the same spots (at the same time)? As coreyg510 points out, many factors can affect reception.
You bring up some very good points here.
Since I have 3 phone numbers and sims, I did just what you suggested above just for fun, only about 2 weeks ago. One week while traveling for business, I had my 7130c, 8800, and RAXR V3xx all live while on a 600 mile trip. It was very interesting to see how each signal strength indicator varied as I drove in and out of areas which had signals of varied strength.
Actually since I had done this about a year ago (with different phones), it wasn't all that surprising, however it was fun to try it again. The results were somewhat similar to the previous test on the same route.
As least from my perspective the signal strength indicator on most phones is nearly useless. Each time it was indicating a poor signal I would make a call and each phone performed very well. The only time I experienced poor voice quality and the sense that it was about to drop the call was approaching an area with no signal whatsoever.
Best Overall Phone Performance - BB 8800
Very close second BB 7130c
Tied with 7130c - RAZR V3xx
I believe this is a testament to two things. Most (not all) of todays' phones are better at picking up the signal and that the BB's made since the 8700c have truly improved phone functionality. Some obviously better than others.