How and when to use Airplane Mode on iPhone

Using Airplane Mode on your iPhone isn't reserved just for flights. The feature can prolong your battery life or allow you to unplug and enjoy some uninterrupted family time. We show you how to activate Airplane Mode, and list five scenarios when you should use it.

iPhone with both cellular and Wi-Fi connections. Screenshot by Jason Cipriani

Airplane Mode is more than just a way to comply with flight attendants' requests to disable your device during a flight. It can actually be used as a preventative measure while roaming, or letting your child play a game on your iPhone, as well as help you save battery life. We show you how to activate Airplane Mode on your iPhone, and suggest scenarios for when it might be wise to use this powerful-yet-overlooked feature.

No. 1: During a flight
If you have been on a flight in the last few years, you have heard the constant reminders from the flight attendants to turn off all electronic devices. Once the plane has reached an altitude of 10,000 feet, cell phones can be used in airplane mode.

Airplane mode is turned on. Cellular and Wi-Fi connections are turned off. Screenshot by Jason Cipriani

To activate Airplane Mode on your iPhone, simply go into the Settings app and the first item should be Airplane Mode. Tap on the switch to turn it on. Once Airplane Mode is activated, your iPhone turns off both the Wi-Fi and cellular connections. This means you will no longer be able to make or receive calls, texts, or e-mails, or browse the Internet (basically, anything that requires a data connection will not work while Airplane Mode is activated).

Wi-Fi can be turned back on and connected to a network while phone is in Airplane Mode. Screenshot by Jason Cipriani

If you are lucky enough and happen to be on a flight with Wi-Fi, you can turn just the Wi-Fi connection back on and send e-mails, browse the Internet, or send instant messages. If you are unsure how to connect your iPhone to a Wi-Fi network, read this post.

No. 2: To unplug for awhile
As we just discussed, when Airplane Mode is turned on, all connections to your iPhone are turned off. This is a great way to unplug, to spend some time with your family, or just to take a break from the beeps that seem to control our lives sometimes. With the demand of constantly being connected, it's easy to get in the habit of checking your e-mail every time you hear a beep.

Putting your iPhone in Airplane Mode puts you back in control. You may be surprised how quickly you forget that your connection is turned off, and how peaceful your night can be. This is also a great way to silence your phone during important meetings. Don't worry, all of your messages will be waiting when you turn Airplane Mode off.

No. 3: While traveling internationally
Traveling across borders can be an expensive affair for you and your wireless carrier. International roaming charges aren't cheap. One way to help avoid the extra roaming fees is to activate airplane mode on your iPhone and only use Wi-Fi hot spots while you travel. You won't be able to receive text messages or phone calls, but you will still be able to check your e-mail, use instant messagers, and browse the Internet over a Wi-Fi-only connection.

No. 4: While your kids play games or watch movies
If you have kids, you likely are thankful for the distraction the iPhone can provide. You also probably know that kids will start pushing and tapping on anything they see on the screen, including accidentally dialing phone numbers. If you are going to let your kids play games or watch a movie on your iPhone, turn on Airplane Mode before you give your iPhone to them. This not only prevents them from calling anyone, but it also stops push alerts from interrupting their gameplay or movie.

No. 5: To save battery
We have all been in a situation where we suddenly have a low battery and no opportunity to a charger. One way to help slow down battery drain is to turn Airplane Mode on. When your iPhone is on, even with the screen off, it is constantly searching for and monitoring data connections. Turning those connections off through Airplane Mode will save battery, allowing you to make calls when you absolutely need to.

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