What’s the Difference Between Do Not Disturb, Airplane, and Silent Mode on iPhone

In the last decade, people used phones for calling and messaging mostly. Eventually, smartphones started to become more than that. Today, smartphones have the tendency to overwhelm with all the barrage of random notifications. At times, it becomes necessary to take a break from your smartphone. You get three options in your iPhone and iPad – silent mode, airplane mode, and do not disturb (DND). Though they serve a similar purpose, there are times you think for a second when you have to pick between these three options.

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Many users are often confused by three options on their phone. They wonder, ‘Is airplane mode the same as do not disturb’ and ‘Why to use DND mode instead of putting the iPhone on silent?’ In this post, we will answer all such confusions related to the differences between airplane, silent, and do not disturb mode on iOS and iPadOS.

Let’s check the purpose of each mode, followed by which one to use and when.

What Is Silent Mode on iPhone

Silent mode is the basic feature that you must be familiar with. It makes the notifications inaudible or quiet, thus putting your phone on silent. The notifications can be from a call, message, chat apps, email, social apps, etc. All types of notifications are silenced. However, the device screen will light up every time you receive a notification. The notification banners will also show up, but the tone won’t be audible.

Typically, your iPhone will vibrate in silent mode, but you can disable it by going to Settings > Sound. Turn off the toggle for Vibrate on Silent.

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Pro Tip: iOS 13 and above offers a special feature known as Silence Unknown callers. To enable it, go to Settings > Phone. Enable the toggle for Silence Unknown callers.

How to Enable and Disable Silent Mode

To enable or disable silent mode, open the Control center on your iPhone or iPad. Tap on the bell icon to enable it. When the bell icon is red, it means your phone is on silent. Tap on the icon again to turn off silent mode. Alternatively, decrease the ringer volume to a minimum.

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What Is Do Not Disturb Mode on iPhone

Do not disturb mode is the customized version of silent mode. It’s a silent mode with additional features. Apart from silencing the notifications, the device screen won’t light up. The phone won’t vibrate. Neither a notification banner will appear when you receive any notification in DND mode.

When you enable DND, you will not see or hear the incoming alerts. But if you check your notification panel or the lock screen, all the notifications received during the DND time will be happily sitting there waiting for you to act on them. Essentially, with the DND mode enabled, you will not be disturbed from your current task. Get the idea behind the name? Do Not Disturb.

Note: Alarms will still go through when do not disturb mode is enabled. So don’t worry about that.

Coming to do not disturb mode features, you can customize DND to allow calls from certain contacts. Use it to silence everyone except the ones on your Favorites list. You can even schedule DND so that it activates and turns off automatically at a specified time. Interestingly, you get a Repeated call setting where a second call from the same person will be audible within three minutes. It comes handy in case of emergencies if your phone is on do not disturb mode. You will find all these customizations under Settings > Do Not Disturb.

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Quick Fix: Are you getting calls when do not disturb mode is on? Find out how to fix that on iPhone, iPad, and Android.

How to Enable and Disable Do Not Disturb Mode

To enable the do not disturb mode, go to Settings > Do Not Disturb. Turn on the toggle for Do Not Disturb. Alternatively, tap on the crescent moon icon in the Control Center. You can also schedule the mode to activate it automatically.

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When enabled, you will see the crescent moon icon on the status bar of your iPhone, if there’s room for it depending on the notch size of your phone. You will see the DND notification on the lock screen as well. To disable it, repeat the steps and disable the mode.

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What Is Airplane Mode on the iPhone

Essentially designed for flights – hence the name airplane or flight mode, this mode needs to be enabled in flights for safety reasons to avoid interference with aircraft signals. But you can use it in your daily life as well.

Unlike silent or do not disturb modes that do not affect your network connections, anything that requires signal turns off by activating airplane mode. So your cellular network, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connections are automatically disabled.

Note: On iOS 13 and above, Bluetooth connections remain active when airplane mode is turned on. That is done to keep your paired Bluetooth devices connected such as Bluetooth headsets. You can listen to music on airplane mode.

However, you can enable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth manually after activating airplane mode. That means you can use your Wi-Fi at your home, office, or during flights (if available). But your cellular network cannot be enabled.

How to Enable and Disable Airplane Mode

Similar to the DND mode, airplane mode can be activated from Control Center and Settings. In Settings, you will find Airplane Mode. Turn on the toggle next to it or press the airplane icon in the Control Center. When enabled, you will see an airplane icon in the notification bar. Then, repeat steps to disable it.

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Tip: Airplane mode could be one of the reasons for the iPhone not receiving calls. Check other ways to fix iPhone not receiving calls issue.

Difference Between Silent, Do Not Disturb, and Airplane Mode

If you are still confused about what happens to the most important functions on your phone – messages, calls, notifications, and data, here are your answers.

You will receive your messages, calls, and notifications from other apps normally in both silent and do not disturb mode. But you won’t be alerted when in silent or the DND mode. You can create exceptions when in DND mode. You can use your phone as you normally do under both modes. You can still access all the apps and data within them. You can even listen to music in both modes. To sum it up, do not disturb mode is the silent mode on steroids.

On the contrary, airplane mode is a toned-down version of shutting down your phone. Unlike shutting down the phone, you can still go through your photos, notes, and other offline data. However, you will be disconnected from the rest of the world when you enable the airplane mode. Once you disable the mode, you will receive the missed alerts depending on the app.

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Pro Tip: If you are an Android user as well, find out the difference between silent, DND, and airplane mode on Android.

When to Use the Modes

The silent mode comes handy when you want to turn off the alerts on your phone quickly. Use silent mode when you want to silence everything on your phone without any exceptions. For instance, you can use it in a theatre while watching a movie or a play.

Use Do not disturb mode when you don’t want to be disturbed at all – not even from the screen lighting up. This mode can be used when working or your phone is lying on the table next to the computer. Putting your phone on DND will prevent it from lighting up frequently and alerting you about incoming notifications. You can work in peace without any distractions. DND can be used at night as well or when you want to allow alerts from specific people only while keeping others on mute.

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Airplane mode has several benefits. For starters, use it when you want to take a break from the internet or calls. Airplane mode also helps in conserving battery for most of the signal receptors are disabled. It also comes handy when you are traveling to a different country where roaming charges are higher. Putting your phone on an airplane mode will help you in saving money. Last but not least, airplane mode proves beneficial for troubleshooting various issues on your iPhone or iPad. If you are facing issues with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or mobile, turn airplane mode on and off to fix them.

Which One to Use

The answer depends on your need. If you simply want to silence your phone, choose between silent or do not disturb mode. But if you want to disconnect from the outer world completely, go with airplane mode. I like do not disturb mode over the others as it offers customizations. The DND mode lets you choose how and when you want to disconnect from the world. The power lies in my hands.

Next up: App notification sounds not working on your iPhone? Check out 7 ways to bring back notification sounds for apps on iPhone.

Last updated on 02 February, 2022

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