What Can Your Smartphone Do Without Cell Service or Wifi?

What Can Your Smartphone Do Witho

What have I been doing lately?

Trying to figure out what my Smartphone can do without Cell Service, Mobile Data, or Wifi? Living in Alaska will do that to you!!

I have been downloading what I would call “Hard Copies” of maps to my Smartphone in case of emergency or loss of connectivity which is often. So besides being an expensive doorstop let’s investigate.

No Internet Connection

Try and access Google or Apple Maps without an Internet connection and you can’t because there is nothing there unless you downloaded the maps to your Smartphone. The whole world is dependent on “Internet Fumes” but they don’t understand or realize that!!

Like I have said in other articles in terms of loss of internet on your Smartphone for any reason either from the loss of cell service due to distance from a cell site, traveling, bad reception, loss of Wifi for a myriad of reasons, or any other reason you might lose connectivity.

Well, you are left with a cool calculator and camera but what else? Well turns out a lot of things.

List of things you can use on iPhone without Cell Service or Wifi Depending on the Apps

  • Altitude (My Altitude)
  • Books (pre-downloaded)
  • Camera
  • Calculator
  • Call 911
  • Clock
  • Compass
  • Decibel X (App)
  • GPS
  • Fitness Tracker
  • Flashlight
  • Maps (pre-downloaded)
  • Measure (App)
  • Music (pre-downloaded)
  • Notes
  • Passbook
  • Photos (pre-downloaded)
  • Spreadsheet (Numbers)
  • Videos (pre-downloaded)
  • Voice Memos

Apps That Function Entirely Offline

There are many apps that don’t need Mobile Data or Wifi that are useful offline like Google Translate, Maps, file sharing, many photo editing/viewing/painting/sketching, calculating, or mathematical applications and unit converting.

From Google Translate Help

“Download languages to use offline iPhone & iPad, Android, Computer.

You can download languages onto your device. This lets you translate them without an internet connection.

After you’ve downloaded a language to your device, you could be able to translate it using the camera. See languages that work with instant camera translations.

To avoid slow downloads or extra data usage charges, download languages only when you’re connected to Wifi.”

Free Map Apps

Thanks to free Smartphone App Programs like Apple and Google Maps and many other apps, we simply take maps and location services for granted. It is in the background now.

Google Maps program only holds your Local Maps for 30 days then erases them and Google Maps Custom Maps last for 365 days but you still have to remember that or they erase.

From Google Maps Help

“Download Areas and Navigate Offline

If you’re going where the Internet is slow, mobile data is expensive, or you can’t get online, you can save an area from Google Maps to your phone or tablet and use it when you’re offline.

Note: Downloading offline maps isn’t available in some regions because of contractual limitations, language support, address formats, or other reasons.”

How Big is Your Map?

Many of the current map programs on your Smartphone are limited when it comes to GPS only navigation; Google Maps allows you to pre-download a 50 square kilometer map or (19.30 square miles) for temporary offline use, this works most of the time but not when you lose connectivity.

What if I Use GPS While Travelling in Another Country?

If you are out of the country this can get complicated very quickly as roaming charges in foreign countries can be very expensive. If you use pre-downloaded offline maps when you are traveling before you get to the country you are traveling to this can be a big money saver.

You can use your maps apps that have an offline search function so you can use them just like normal maps app and by turning on GPS you can navigate easily.

Will, it Cost Something in Roaming?

Turn Off Mobile Internet Data in Android and ideally, no charge should be levied if you are only using the GPS receiver with the maps of that country already available on your smartphone i.e. no new download required.

The map navigation software that you are using should be able to use the maps on your phone’s memory along with your GPS receiver to find the location (latitude and longitude) and show you the way.

Plan Ahead

Mobile networks and Wi-Fi networks will always go down for one reason or another. For years Verizon was the only carrier in the Western United States from California to New Mexico and from Montana to Texas that covered most of it and had good coverage along the highways and freeways. Forget about rolling through Mexico. So, if you want to keep using your Smartphone when you are traveling, you should always plan ahead.

Download what is important to you, like maps or games, whatever is at the top of your list. Please see some of our other interesting articles, “How To Get Reception On Your Cell Phone In Remote Areas?” and “Is Zoom Better Than FaceTime in Remote Areas?”

Stay Productive

What do you need to stay productive or keep working? On your iPhone, you have Pages, Files, Numbers, Notes, Calculator, Camera, and a Contacts List until you get back to your next connection. Theoretically, you can write a letter with your thumbs?

If you use Android you can use Google Drive and you can set aside files to use offline. Gmail Offline, Chrome app Sketchpad 3.5, and Apache OpenOffice Portable to name a few.

Does GPS Work on a Smartphone Without Mobile Data?

Your maps navigation app can work without your Mobile Data from your service provider just turn the ‘mobile data’ off and then use Google maps or the iPhone Navigation app and it will work.

You have a GPS receiver as a built-in feature in almost all smartphones and Global positioning systems (GPS) are available free of cost everywhere on earth. GPS reception is available around the globe but you will need a clear line of sight or view of the skies so the receiver can triangulate at least three satellites.

Where does GPS work?

GPS works anywhere out in the open. It works in buildings and near windows, but you may have problems receiving signals in the inner area of buildings depending on the structure and what it is made out of. Dense materials such as concrete, rock, steel, heavy wood, tall buildings, terrain features like mountains, ridges, and cliffs, and large trees can block or degrade GPS signals. Glass, wood, or plastic does not.

How does GPS work?

GPS positioning comes from satellites but this data is in raw form and you need an app like Google Maps, which can actually process this data for you and show you the directions on your Smartphone using a map.

The map in the app contains all the locations embedded in it along with latitude and longitude information.

What is the difference between Cell Service, Cellular Data, Mobile Data, and Wifi?

Definition of: Cellular data From PC Magazine

“Cellular Data

The transmission of data via the carrier’s cellular network. Cellular data is used for email, Web pages, watching videos, app downloads, and software updates. Also called “mobile data,” cellular data is measured and billed separately from phone calls. Text messaging (SMS) is also a separate service, although it is typically included as part of the phone plan (see carrier data plans).”

Definition of “What’s the difference between Wi‑Fi data and cellular data? From Verizon”

“What’s the Difference Between Wi‑Fi Data and Cellular Data?

A data plan and a Wi-Fi network basically let you do the same thing: use the Internet wirelessly. Some devices are built for Wi-Fi use only, while others, such as 4G LTE smartphones and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2, have Wi-Fi, 3G, and 4G LTE access. Depending on how much you use the Internet and where a data-enabled device gives you the best of both worlds. Fast, secure access to the information you need on the go and some flexibility on overall data consumption.

Wi-Fi connects to a router. Cellular data doesn’t. Wi-Fi has a limited range. Cellular data doesn’t.”


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John Mortensen

As a kid I wanted to be an astronaut, geologist, or scientist. I became a project manager which is involved with many of those things. I am a project manager and tech writer who researches the latest alternative and green technologies. We write helpful articles about green electronics and green technology products. AI, extreme weather, electric vehicles, are all in our future and we want to know the best way to deal with the effects of these on the power grid and emergency preparedness. https://techevaluate.com/author-bio-page-john-w-mortensen/

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