How to Disable Internet on a Cell Phone

By David Wayne

All the major cell phone brands give you access to Internet settings from a convenient menu on the home screen. From these settings, you can turn off all networks at once, adjust settings for individual connections or suspend data syncing to conserve battery power. Operating system upgrades can significantly change the steps for settings configuration, but once you understand the basic concepts, you can check your owner's manual for device-specific instructions.

IOS Control Center

Airlines require passengers to turn off electronic devices at low altitudes due to the possibility of electromagnetic waves disrupting flight equipment, and cell phones include a setting called airplane mode that disables all signal transmissions, such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, voice calls and data connections. In iOS, you can access airplane mode from Control Center by swiping up from the bottom of any screen. Tap the “Airplane Mode” button to toggle this setting or tap “Wi-Fi” to toggle only Wi-Fi. To conserve battery power by disabling background data syncing, open Settings, tap “Mail, Contacts, Calendars” and select “Fetch New Data.” Disable “Push” and, in the Fetch section, choose “Manually.”

Android Quick Settings

Android has a similar global settings menu accessible from the home screen. To open the Quick Settings menu, use two fingers to swipe down from the top of the screen. Tap “Airplane Mode” to toggle this setting or tap a specific network to open its settings. For example, tap the “Wi-Fi” option and then disable Wi-Fi from its settings menu. Android versions earlier than 4.0 don't have a Quick Settings menu, so you must tap “Settings” and choose “Wireless and Networks” to enable airplane mode and disable Wi-Fi. From this menu, you can disable background data syncing by selecting “Data Usage,” tapping the three-dot menu and disabling “Auto-Sync Data.”

Windows Phone Settings

On a Windows Phone, access the global settings menu by swiping down from the top of the screen. Alternatively, swipe to the left to open the Apps menu and then select “Settings.” Tap “Airplane Mode” to toggle this setting or tap “Wi-Fi” to switch Wi-Fi on or off. In Settings, you can disable background data syncing for individual email accounts by tapping “Email + Accounts,” selecting an account and choosing “Download New Content.” In this sub-menu, choose “Manually” to disable automatic mail fetching, and then repeat this process for each account synced with your phone.

Manage BlackBerry Connections

BlackBerry models have different operating systems, but they all have an option called Manage Connections accessible from the home screen. Open “Manage Connections” and tap “Turn All Connections Off” or a similar option to enable airplane mode. Alternatively, tap an individual network to enable or disable it. For example, tap “Wi-Fi” to toggle only this connection. While you can't completely disable email fetching on a BlackBerry, you can turn off email pushing to conserve battery power. Tap “Settings” and “Accounts,” then select an account. Tap “Advanced,” select “Push” and toggle this setting on or off.