If you're not a frequent flyer then you might never have used Airplane mode on your phone or tablet; and thanks to the FAA relaxing restrictions on personal electronics it's a feature that may not be around for much longer. There's more to Airplane mode than flight safety, though. Here are three scenarios where the feature can prove useful.
You've got a long day ahead, and you know that you need to make a phone call at the end of it. Will your all-singing, all-dancing smartphone still have enough juice left when the time comes? Switching to Airplane mode significantly reduces the amount of background work your phone or tablet is doing. You could also turn your phone off completely, but Airplane mode does at least let you snap photos, read files and check the time.
It's particularly effective for those days when you know you'll be in and out of signal range. If your cellphone loses reception, it supercharges its internal electronics to try and pick up a network, which can rapidly run down your battery. If you're planning a hike in the woods or some DIY in the basement then Airplane mode can ensure you still have some battery life left when you return to civilization.
Heading home for five or ten minutes before going back out on the road? Charging your phone at the local bar? Airplane mode means your smartphone is hardly doing anything at all—cellular connectivity, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and location services are all switched off, so if you're charging up your mobile device then that battery indicator will go up at a faster rate in Airplane mode.
This is essentially the same point as the first one—Airplane mode means extra battery life—but it's worth making the distinction. It can be a valuable trick to call on if you know that your time will be limited at the power socket and you want to get on the move again as quickly as possible.
For many of us, a smartphone is a constant source of distraction. Emails, calls, Snapchats, and special offers crowd our home screens and mean we're checking our devices more than we really should. There are various ways to tackle this problem, from putting your phone in a drawer to switching off notifications, but Airplane mode has a number of advantages.
Firstly, it cuts off all apps and features in a couple of taps, so it's quick. Secondly, unlike the option of putting your phone in quiet mode or turning it over, you won't be tempted to have a quick check or get distracted by a flashing LED. Thirdly, it means you still have access to the stuff that's on your phone, whether it's a photo to show a friend or notes for your meeting.
Obviously, calls and texts are disabled, so you probably don't want to have your phone in Airplane mode all day. That said, if you're heading into a meeting at work or you're on a date then it's a useful option to have. It's also handy for leaving your phone overnight. You won't get woken by calls and texts, but your alarm app will still operate as normal.
Of course it works for tablets too—perhaps you want to have a serious, distraction-free session on your favorite mobile game without any pop-ups or notifications getting in your way. Switching your device to Airplane mode not only cuts off all alerts in one fell swoop, it also leaves more battery capacity for the task at hand, whether that's a movie or the latest first-person shooter.