Airplane mode is a setting available on many mobile phones, smartphones and other electronic devices that, when activated, suspends many of the device's signal transmitting functions, thereby disabling the device's capacity to place or receive calls or use text messaging – while still permitting use of other functions that do not require signal transmission (e.g., games, built-in camera, MP3 player).
The name is derived from the fact that it permits the user to operate the device while on board a commercial aircraft while in flight, where the operation of cell phones and other devices that send or receive signals is generally prohibited due to the common belief that they can potentially impact aircraft avionics or interfere with ground cell networks. Other names include flight mode, aeroplane mode, offline mode, and standalone mode.
Signal-transmitting technologies such as Bluetooth and wifi are also disabled in airplane mode, but receive-only technologies like FM radio and GPS still operate if the device is so equipped. Some models disable GPS and other passive features, but this is inconsistent among manufacturers, since these latter functions are permitted on some aircraft and not others. Nevertheless, certain airlines specifically prohibit even the use of devices with a "flight mode" at all times.
Although it is not possible to send calls or text in airplane mode, devices such as some Nokia smartphones allow the user to make an emergency call regardless of the fact that the phone is in airplane mode, while other mobile devices such as earlier Sony Ericsson devices only allow active mobile network connections (regardless of whether it is an emergency call or not) after the device has been turned off and restarted to normal mode.
A secondary feature of airplane mode is that it saves power by shutting down various onboard transmitters and receivers.