How to Disable Phone But Not GPS on iPhone?

by Michael on March 18, 2011 · 5 comments

I’m bummed. Ever since I first decided to jailbreak my iPhone, I’ve been using SBSettings to manage my phone’s settings. It’s super convenient to use, and gives you more control than otherwise available through the built-in settings app.


Unfortunately, one of my previous favorite uses for SBSettings no longer works… Up through iOS 4.1 (with the limera1n jailbreak) there were toggles available for functions such as Phone, 3G, EDGE, Wifi, etc. such that you could independently turn them on and off.

Importantly, these toggles gave me the ability to shut off all data and phone connections while leaving the GPS turned on. In other words, it was basically a roll-your-own “Airplane Mode” with the GPS still enabled. Believe it or not, there are a number of instances when you might want to do this.

In my case, I like to shut down everything but the GPS so I can use RunKeeper to track my runs without getting interrupted by phone calls, text messages, or draining the battery. RunKeeper will also sometimes “jump” my location to a distant cell tower (presumably when it loses GPS lock) if I leave the phone turned on.

Another instance in which you might want the phone turned off but the GPS left on would be if you’re geocaching (or otherwise using GPS tracking) out in the middle of nowhere. If your iPhone has to hunt for a signal, it’ll run the battery down like nobody’s business.

Anyhoo… It seems that the SBSettings “Phone” toggle stopped working sometime around iOS 4.2.1. I’ve been in touch with the developer, and it doesn’t sound like a functional Phone toggle is coming back, so I can no longer turn off the phone without turning off the GPS. Crap.

If anyone has a clever way of achieving this (phone radio off with GPS still turned on), please share it in the comments. If not, I guess I’ll just have to suffer through periodic lost runs.


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

mark April 22, 2011 at 12:02 pm

same issue / question

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Jack Taylor May 29, 2011 at 2:21 pm

I noticed this too, when I went from 4.2 to 4.3.3. I really liked this feature as I would use it often when driving using GPS. Almost every time I was getting to a critical turn, a call would come in and interrupt the GPS. Very annoying, and I hate getting phone calls when driving, anyway. This allowed me to turn off getting calls. Anyone got a workaround?

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mike michon June 28, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Take out the SIM card. Phone radio will be off, but GPS receiver will remain on. I *think*.

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john abraham August 21, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Apparently you can set up a PIN on your SIM, and then press cancel when it asks for the PIN. No need to jailbreak. Haven’t tried it.

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Michael August 21, 2011 at 7:28 pm

john: Looks promising – and I wouldn’t risk losing the SIM card by locking it instead of removing it. I’ll check it out. Thanks!

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