If you’ve flown an airplane before, you’ve probably heard a warning about putting portable electronic devices into airplane mode or game mode.
This is because most major airlines prohibit the use of wireless communications when the aircraft is in the sky, as this may cause some interference that could affect radios or other devices on the aircraft.
However, this is not the only reason against using mobile devices on airplanes. Sometimes, the use of such devices can distract other passengers on the same flight because not everyone wants someone to talk next to them or type on their gadgets, especially if they are trying to fall asleep.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at what Airplane Mode is, how it works, how useful it is, and whether it interferes with your smartphone or tablet when turned on.
What is Airplane Mode?
Airplane mode, also known as airplane mode or offline mode, is a feature of your smartphone or tablet that prevents you from receiving and sending calls and text messages, as well as wireless data transmission.
It is primarily used on aircraft as a takeoff and landing precaution to disable the device’s ability to receive or send wireless data that could interfere with aircraft radio communications and associated systems.
Airplane mode is also present on laptops and computers. When activated, it turns off Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and other telephone communications, making it easier to pause RF transmission.
It’s also useful when you want your phone or tablet to charge faster or save battery power by preventing the device from looking for signal connections, thereby saving power.
If you’re having problems with your mobile internet or detecting a Wi-Fi signal, Airplane Mode will help you restore your carrier’s settings. You can do this by turning it on and off again in the same way as when restarting your phone or tablet.
Other use cases for Airplane Mode include helping you focus on the task at hand by turning off persistent notifications from games, social media, texting, and other apps. Plus, it also saves you money, especially if you leave your gadget to the kids, who tend to download or buy by mistake.
What Airplane Mode does on a smartphone or tablet
Airplane mode turns off wireless features on your phone or tablet, including cellular, Bluetooth, GPS, and Wi-Fi, and you disconnect from all of them, so they won’t work as expected.
In low battery situations, Airplane Mode comes in handy as it helps conserve the little battery power you have left, although you can also use the device’s low power mode instead, as it still allows wireless connections.
However, the features that are affected by airplane mode vary from one device to the next.
For example, on an iPhone on an airplane, cellular voice and data, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, and location services are turned off. GPS is different because it does not transmit radio frequencies, but disabling GPS in airplane mode depends on your phone or tablet. Some features, such as real-time traffic, will not work in airplane mode, although offline maps may work without Wi-Fi or cellular connections.
If you are traveling by plane and have Airplane Mode turned on, you can still turn Wi-Fi back on to use the WiFi connection during flight, unless airline regulations require all devices to be completely turned off. P>
You can also use the camera, play games or listen to music and perform some other functions on your phone or tablet.
How Airplane Mode works
Airplane mode on your phone or tablet turns off the transmitters and data receivers, so data does not flow to or from your device. You will also not be able to receive or make calls and text messages, or receive the notifications you usually receive when airplane mode is turned off.
When your smartphone or tablet is in airplane mode, it doesn’t require a lot of resources to operate. It stops looking for signals from nearby cell towers, Bluetooth devices, and Wi-Fi hotspots, saving battery power.
However, this also means that you will be harder to find because your phone or tablet is not transmitting information about its location or existence.
The point of limiting airlines to use mobile devices in flight is not that they don’t want to. Basically, we are talking about radio frequencies received by such devices, which can interfere with the communication and navigation systems of the aircraft, and sometimes even the collision avoidance system.
This is why the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has established rules restricting the transmission of mobile phones on airplanes, which in turn has led to their use being banned during takeoff and landing.
The FCC also believes that multiple mobile phones on board an aircraft could ping multiple cell towers at the same time, which could also confuse the telephone network.
What works with Airplane Mode enabled
Most apps and services that require a cellular or Wi-Fi connection will not work. These include email, social media, online gaming, weather and stock updates, voice assistants like Siri, app stores, or even music and video streaming from providers like Netflix, Spotify, and others that need internet to connect.
However, you can still check your notes and your alarms and reminders will work as they don’t require an internet connection to work.
You also can’t use emergency numbers, as all calls and text messages are disabled, so you can’t receive or send text messages, and you can’t make or receive calls.
Otherwise, you can listen to music from your phone or tablet, as long as it doesn’t require a wireless connection, and you can take selfies and group photos while you’re on it, as this won’t affect camera performance.
Depending on the device you have, you can use Wi-Fi in airplane mode by manually turning it on. There are airlines today that offer in-flight Wi-Fi, so you don’t have to stop trying to figure out how to send that email to your customer or deliver pending jobs when you can finish in flight.
Before attempting to connect, check with the flight attendants and make sure it is turned off during takeoff and landing.