Grab any Android phone and you’ll see an airplane mode toggle in the Quick Settings menu. You’ve probably seen this option on every mobile device you’ve owned.
But what does airplane mode actually do? How can you use it to your advantage on your phone? We’ll answer these questions and more.
What Is Android’s Airplane Mode?
Airplane mode is a setting available on nearly all smartphones, laptops, and similar devices. When you activate it, airplane mode stops all signal transmission from your device. You’ll see an airplane icon in your phone’s status bar when it’s on.
The feature is known as airplane mode because many airlines prohibit wireless devices on their planes. There’s some debate on whether phones could interfere with the radio equipment in planes, but most think it’s best to err on the side of caution.
What Does Airplane Mode Do?
Airplane mode disables all wireless functions of your phone, including:
- Cellular connection: You can’t make calls, send text messages, or use mobile data to access the internet.
- Wi-Fi: Your phone will drop any existing Wi-Fi connections and won’t connect to any new ones.
- Bluetooth: Bluetooth is a short-range connection that lets you link your phone to speakers, headphones, and more. Airplane mode disables it.
GPS is a bit different. It doesn’t transmit any radio waves, so depending on your phone, airplane mode may or may not turn off GPS. While apps like Google Maps work without an internet connection, features like live traffic won’t work in airplane mode.
How to Turn Airplane Mode On or Off
To enable or disable airplane mode on your Android device, follow these steps:
- Swipe down from the top of the screen two times to open the Quick Settings panel. Alternatively, you can swipe down once using two fingers.
- Look for the Airplane mode toggle in the grid.
- Tap it, and your phone enters airplane mode.
Repeat these steps to disable airplane mode. Note that it may take your phone a moment to reconnect to Wi-Fi and cellular data after leaving airplane mode.
If your phone doesn’t have this shortcut for some reason, you can toggle airplane mode at Settings > Network & internet > Airplane mode.
Does Airplane Mode Save Battery?
Yes, airplane mode definitely helps your device save battery life. The various radios in your phone take up a lot of power, as they’re regularly pushing app notifications over Wi-Fi, communicating with Bluetooth devices and cell towers, and checking your location. That all drains a lot of power, so disabling them all at once is a great way to keep your phone alive. Because your phone doesn’t do as much work in airplane mode, it will also charge faster.
Can You Use Wi-Fi on Airplane Mode?
This depends on your device, but most modern phones allow you to use Wi-Fi even when in airplane mode. When you enable airplane mode, Wi-Fi shuts off, but you can enable it again manually.
With airplane mode on, swipe down from the top of the screen twice to open Quick Settings again, then tap Wi-Fi. Give it a few seconds, and you’ll see Wi-Fi turn on and connect if your phone allows this.
Many airline providers now offer in-flight Wi-Fi, so you can enable this feature to enjoy that if applicable. If you’re not sure, you should check with an airline employee before you try connecting. Planes only allow Wi-Fi above 10,000 feet, however, so take care to keep Wi-Fi turned off during takeoff and landing. Even on the ground, this is useful if you’d like to block incoming calls and texts but still want to get online.
Does Bluetooth Work in Airplane Mode?
This is a similar scenario to Wi-Fi. Enabling airplane mode disables Bluetooth, but on most phones you can turn it back on with the shortcut toggle. Airlines don’t care much about Bluetooth, because its range is so short.
Enabling Bluetooth lets you pair your Bluetooth earbuds, keyboard, or similar devices. Even when you’re not in a plane, you can do this to save battery while listening to offline music through Bluetooth headphones.
Does Airplane Mode Use Data?
No, because enabling airplane mode prevents your phone from connecting to your provider’s cell network. You won’t use any data in airplane mode, but it’s an overkill solution for using less data.
How Does Airplane Mode Help With Games?
If you love playing games on your phone but hate the ads, airplane mode can help. Because it disables all internet connections, enabling airplane mode will hide ads in mobile games. However, this won’t work for games that are always-online, so you’ll have to give it a try with your favorites.
Do Alarms Work in Airplane Mode?
Yes, alarms will sound as normal, even in airplane mode. They don’t rely on any kind of internet connection. Open the Clock app and switch to the Alarms tab to set your alarm as normal.
While it can’t return internet results in airplane mode, Google Assistant can still set alarms for you via voice commands.
Does Snapchat Work in Airplane Mode?
No. Because Snapchat relies on an internet connection, it won’t work at all in airplane mode.
Can You Receive Calls and Texts in Airplane Mode?
No, because your phone has no connection to cellular service. If someone calls you and your phone is in airplane mode, they’ll reach your voicemail just like if your phone was turned off. You’ll see texts received when you were in airplane mode once you disable it.
How to Listen to Music on Airplane Mode
Since you don’t have an internet connection in airplane mode, music streaming apps like Spotify, Google Play Music, and similar won’t work. This means you have two options for listening to music in airplane mode.
First, if you subscribe to the paid versions of these services, like Spotify Premium or Google Play Music All Access, you can download music to your mobile device. This lets you listen to it even in airplane mode.
If you don’t want to pay for a premium streaming subscription, you can still listen to local music you own. You’ll need to sync your music to your phone, then download one of the best non-streaming music players to enjoy it.
Flying High With Airplane Mode
We’ve answered some of the most common questions about airplane mode on Android. In short, it lets you cease all wireless activity on your phone, which is required on some flights and handy even on the ground.
If you’ve got a long flight coming up, we recommend downloading your media to your phone so you aren’t reliant on an internet connection. And if you’re interested in some science, check out how airplane mode affects your sleep.