GPS Airtime

Use Android GPS in Airplane Mode

Android GPS in Airplane Mode

Posted 2954 days ago by admin

Using an Android GPS in Airplane Mode is natural if you are outside of cell range anyway. However, certain devices struggle to get a GPS fix in the backcountry in this mode.

This recent message from a user best describes the problem:

“. . . on my Motorola Droid X,   BackCountry Navigator worked fine at home but when I got into the back country,  the program was never able to find my location.  We were gone for 5 days and tried it every day without success.  I was using the airplane mode as there was no cell service.  Is this a problem with the phone or the program?”

Many of you know the answer – it is a problem with the phone in airplane mode. Certain Android phones have trouble getting their first GPS fix in Airplane mode. Most notably, this occurs in phones made by Motorola on the Verizon network. Read Droid, Droid X, etc.

I have worked with Motorola to get this acknowledged as a bug. Based on some reports, I believe this to be resolved in Droid 3.

For earlier devices, a workaround is still available: turn off airplane mode. Since this can be tedious, and leads to battery drain from the phone searching for signal, there is now an automatic solution: GPS Airtime.

At present, this app is only visible in the Market for Motorola phones and a few others. The app description in the Market has directions for testing other phones to see if they need it.

For those of you with a Motorola Droid, be sure and try it out. You can send feedback on whether it worked anonymously through the app.

If you have another device that you believe is a candidate for use, please post at this post in the helpdesk.

We hope that this will be a helpful utility for those who want to use their Android GPS in Airplane Mode.


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  1. Tom says:

    Just got back from a remote location in Ontario. Droid X2 worked perfect in airplane mode. No data there so I downloaded all the tiles I needed in advance. Loving the app.

  2. dhighsmith says:

    my samsung galaxy s has the same issue. would not get a gps fix for two days in the Backcountry until I turned airplane mode off then instantly got a fix.

  3. John says:

    I have a samsung fascinate, and it would appear it has the same bug; I’m on Verizon too. Anyway when I go to the Market, it indicates that my phone is “compatible” with the app. I am just wondering whether anyone else has run this app with my particular phone. I just tried to get a GPS signal when in Airplane mode and could not, but if I turn off Airplane mode lock the signal then turn back on Airplane mode it stays locked…. So the bug must be related to the “search” phase of the GPS, not after you have a lock. Just an observation, but it looks like it will also work for a Samsung Fascinate