What Does Airplane Mode Do and Can It Really Save Battery Life?

If you’ve been on a commercial plane in recent years, you’ve probably heard a flight attendant instruct passengers to switch all mobile devices over to airplane mode or power them off entirely. What is airplane mode? Nearly every smartphone, tablet and laptop has a little airplane icon that allows users to enable airplane mode, which essentially shuts down wireless reception in order to prevent interference with equipment aboard the plane. Is there any evidence that cell signals actually interfere with the plane? Airplanes require many advanced navigation and communication systems to keep them in the air and make it safely to their destination. Unfortunately, mobile phones use the same frequencies, which means your phone’s signal could interfere with the airplane’s onboard systems. Between 2003 and 2009, there were only 75 instances of suspected electronic interference causing equipment glitches, and no airline accident has ever been linked to cell phone use. Still, it’s the law that you comply with FAA regulations, so it’s best to follow the instructions and put your phone in airplane mode. Besides, at cruising altitude, your device will be way too high above cell phone towers to get any kind of reliable signal anyway. Does enabling airplane mode actually save your battery? The answer is yes. Recent tests of both iOS and Android devices showed that browsing media in airplane mode caused the phone’s batteries to degrade only a few percent over a 4-hour period. By contrast, the batteries dropped nearly 10% over the same time period with wireless functions enabled. Just remember that airplane mode disables your access to cellular data, so don’t expect to be able to send text messages or make phone calls with airplane mode turned on.