The change will let passengers read, work, play games, watch movies and listen to music.
The Federal Aviation Administration says airlines can allow passengers to use the devices during takeoffs and landings on planes that meet certain criteria for protecting aircraft systems from electronic interference.
Most new airliners are expected to meet the criteria, but changes won't happen immediately. Timing will depend upon the airline.
Connections to the Internet to surf, exchange emails, text or download data will still be prohibited below 10,000 feet. Heavier devices like laptops will have to be stowed. Passengers will be told to switch their smartphones, tablets and other devices to airplane mode.
And cellphone calls will still be prohibited.