Can my smartphone be tracked in Airplane mode?

When we show our product to someone new, unfamiliar with TOCA and our mission, sometimes we get this reaction: "Isn't it just the same as Airplane mode?"

Data privacy isn't as reductive as geolocation tracking, but the matter of the fact is: Airplane mode only disables wireless transmissions. When you choose this setting, the GPS is still on, and you can be tracked. The phone continues to receive signals, and it "knows" its own location - this happens through triangulation.

Cell phone triangulation or cell tower triangulation is similar to GPS tracking in many ways. Multiple towers are used to track the phone's location by measuring the time delay that a signal takes to return back to the towers from the phone. This delay is then calculated into the distance and gives a fairly accurate location of the phone.

Even with the Airplane mode turned on, the phone keeps a record of all the locations you were at. So, in the end, when you switch the airplane mode off, Google and other services receive information about where you were while on this mode. And that's purely because Airplane mode doesn't stop the device from receiving transmissions, only from transmitting.

You can quickly test this by yourself without ever boarding a plane. Just turn on Airplane mode on your phone and open the Google Maps app. Even with Wi-Fi and mobile data automatically turned off, the phone can still pinpoint your location.

The difference when you use TOCA is that you get a physical barrier between the phone and the signals it receives, so it really is impossible to track. The inner layer of our sleeves is made from a certified mesh of conductive material that blocks all signals. This means you can't be located, and your data privacy is secure.


Caring about your digital privacy isn't a synonym for having something to hide. Edward Snowden famously said, "Arguing that you don't care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don't care about free speech because you have nothing to say."

We all have aspects of our lives that we like to keep private. Real privacy allows you to control the aspects of your life that you are happy to share with others. It means you choose what and when to share rather than being forced to share.