Airplane mode disables a device’s cellular radio, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth—all the wireless transmission functions. But many airplanes now offer in-flight Wi-Fi, and cellular access may be coming to planes soon—so where does that leave airplane mode?
Even if you never fly, airplane mode offers a quick way to disable many of your device’s battery-draining radios. It can extend your device’s battery life as long as you don’t need any of those wireless radios.
What Does Airplane Mode Do?
Whatever device you’re using—an Android phone, iPhone, iPad, Windows tablet, or whatever else—airplane mode disables the same hardware functions. These include:
- Cellular: Your device will stop communicating with cell towers. You won’t be able to send or receive anything that depends on cellular data, from voice calls to SMS messages to mobile data.
- Wi-Fi: Your phone will stop scanning for nearby Wi-Fi networks and attempting to join them. If you’re already connected to a Wi-Fi network, you’ll be disconnected.
- Bluetooth: Airplane mode disables Bluetooth, a wireless communication technology most people associate with wireless headsets. But Bluetooth can be used for many other things, including keyboards and mice.
- GPS: Airplane mode also disables GPS-receiving functions, but only on some devices. This is a bit confusing and inconsistent. In theory, GPS is unlike all the other technologies here—a device with GPS turned on is only listening to GPS signals it receives, not transmitting any signals. However, some aircraft regulations do not allow the use of GPS-receiving functions for whatever reason.
by Chris Hoffman on May 17th, 2017