Google Pixel phones just got a handy Airplane mode upgrade

Android 12
(Image credit: Future)

Google is improving Airplane mode on Android by making it so Wi-Fi stays connected when you turn Airplane mode on. Even better, you may not even need the latest version of Android 13 to turn this feature on.

While 9to5Google’s reporting suggests that this feature only rolled out in the Android 13 QPR1 beta and stable updates, a Pixel support article indicates that devices just need to run Android 11 or newer.

Correction: We have updated this story. The iPhone does let you use Wi-Fi in airplane mode in iOS 16. We apologize for the error. 

Google Pixel 7 Pro display view

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Airplane mode has come a long way since it first appeared on smartphones. This is, admittedly, a surprising statement to say about a feature that is used in basically one place, but it’s true. I remember when I turned on Airplane mode one time only to discover that my Bluetooth earbuds didn’t suddenly disconnect — what a huge improvement that was. But that was all the way back in Android 11.

Hopefully, this upgrade to Airplane mode will come to other Android phones soon, because I definitely want to have this feature active on my next flight. It was so frustrating every time I would turn on Airplane mode and have to reconnect my wireless earbuds. If I don’t have to disconnect from Wi-Fi either, Airplane mode may actually be perfect.

Google Pixel Airplane mode upgrade: How it works 

There isn’t really any work you need to do to activate this feature update — it turns on by default. The only catch is that you need to already be connected to Wi-Fi when you turn on Airplane mode to activate the feature. Don’t worry, if you connect to Wi-Fi while in Airplane mode, that will also activate the feature. 

If you’re already connected to Wi-Fi, when you turn on Airplane mode, your Pixel phone will send you a system push notification informing you that, “If you keep Wi-Fi on in Airplane mode, it will stay on the next time you’re in airplane [SIC] mode.” If you tap the notification, it just takes you to the aforementioned Pixel support page explaining how wireless connections work in Airplane mode on a Pixel phone. 

If you don’t want your phone to stay connected to Wi-Fi in Airplane mode, that’s a simple fix. Simply turn Wi-Fi off on your Pixel phone and it will default back to turning Wi-Fi off when you turn on Airplane mode.

Feeling the urge to get a Pixel phone and experience Airplane mode nirvana? Check out our phone deals coverage so you can get the best deal on a Pixel 7, Pixel 7 Pro or even the Pixel 6a if you’re looking for a great cheap phone

Next: The Google Pixel 7 just got a huge price drop. Plus, The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra's full specs have leaked

Malcolm McMillan
Senior Streaming Writer

Malcolm McMillan is a senior writer for Tom's Guide, covering all the latest in streaming TV shows and movies. That means news, analysis, recommendations, reviews and more for just about anything you can watch, including sports! If it can be seen on a screen, he can write about it. Previously, Malcolm had been a staff writer for Tom's Guide for over a year, with a focus on artificial intelligence (AI), A/V tech and VR headsets.

Before writing for Tom's Guide, Malcolm worked as a fantasy football analyst writing for several sites and also had a brief stint working for Microsoft selling laptops, Xbox products and even the ill-fated Windows phone. He is passionate about video games and sports, though both cause him to yell at the TV frequently. He proudly sports many tattoos, including an Arsenal tattoo, in honor of the team that causes him to yell at the TV the most.

  • Shayedd
    Couldn't you just turn off your cell connection? Same amount of steps and it already exists on all phones.