Guru Asks: What Is Airplane Mode?


Airplane mode is a setting which lets you disable Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, cellular signals, and wireless transmission functions (if your device is equipped with one). However, many airplanes are now allowing Wi-Fi during your flight. In fact, pretty soon they could be offering access to cellular functions as well.

So once again, what is the purpose of airplane mode?

Well, whether or not you are going to be flying in an actual airplane doesn’t matter. The airplane mode can be used anywhere, at anytime, should you feel the need to shut down your phone’s signals.

What does airplane mode do?

Airplane mode guide

The airplane mode disables some hardware functions of a device, including Bluetooth, cellular connections like calls and texts, GPS, and Wi-Fi. When the mode is enabled, you may see an airplane icon in your notifications bar.

Many countries have regulations that prohibit using devices on a commercial aircraft that can transmit signals.

Cellular-enabled laptops, tablets, phones, and other devices are constantly communicating with cell towers in order to stay connected to the internet. Generally, a cell tower will not be close by, which means that the device you use has to boost its signal in order to reach them.

It is possible for these signals to cause interference with the sensors in the aircraft. On the other hand, it is not likely that the aircraft will simply fall from the sky because of someone neglecting their airplane mode.

Airplane mode can save battery life

How to use airplane mode

The airplane mode can also be handy for people on the ground. It can even make your device’s battery last longer. A huge amount of power is used each time your device is communicating with the cell towers, scanning to locate the nearest Wi-Fi networks, and checking the GPS.

Keep in mind though that airplane mode will also disable calling and messaging, so you won’t be able to receive any of that.

Will airplane mode become obsolete?

Using airplane mode

There are a few airplanes that allow Wi-Fi. It is also speculated that airplanes may be allowing cellular signals soon.

The United States FCC plans on changing the rules regarding cellular signals in airplanes when above 10,000 ft. This will mean that people will have the ability to use text messaging and other things while flying.

Generally, no one would be able to connect to a cell tower that’s on the ground from an airplane. However, there are plans to set up airplanes with tiny cellular radios with ‘picocells.’ They would be responsible for transferring your cellular connections to the towers on the ground.

As you can see, airplane mode has its functions, some of which could prove useful even outside aircrafts. Of course, for safety reasons, it would be wise to comply with the airplane regulations and use the airplane mode as usual, but changes may come sooner than you realize.

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