What is airplane mode?

(Pocket-lint) – Whether you travel by plane a lot or not, you may have noticed a prominent setting on a bunch of your devices that offers “airplane mode”, without knowing what exactly the feature actually does.

In short, it’s a setting to disable a bunch of the wireless connectivity that phones and tablets normally use, like their cellular radio and Wi-Fi bands, to eliminate potential interference with an airplane you’ve boarded.

How to use airplane mode

On most modern devices it’s pretty simple to activate airplane mode.

For example, on either an iPhone or an Android phone, you can swipe down from the top of your screen to access your quick settings, and tap on the airplane icon to turn the mode on.

It’s also very easy on a Windows laptop or tablet – tap on the Wi-Fi symbol in the bottom right and you’ll see an airplane mode toggle to use.

On a Mac you have to be a bit more manual, and actually turn off both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections to make an equivalent to airplane mode.

How airplane mode works

The main thing that airplane mode does it to disable your device’s cellular radio. This means you can’t get voice calls or text messages through.

On many devices it’ll also turn of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, although these connections are increasingly allowed on most flights, so might not be turned off.

In many cases you can also turn Wi-Fi and Bluetooth back on manually while still leaving airplane mode on, like on iOS.

Will airplane mode save my battery?

One good use for airplane mode is indeed to keep your battery life a little bit longer – if you’re running out of charge and just want to keep your phone on without using it, switching on airplane mode can indeed eke a few extra percentage out for you.

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This is because using mobile data, especially 5G, can be quite battery-draining, so keeping your phone isolated can help it to minimise the power draw it requires.

The difference won’t be seismic, and we don’t think most people will want to use airplane mode for this very often, but it could be handy in a pinch.

Writing by Max Freeman-Mills.

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