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I want to understand how Android 2.3 sets the time when the Date & Time settings are configured to "Automatic" but no SIM card is present.

I am setting up LG E400 Optimus L3 devices as WiFi-only devices, no Sim cards. Retrieving the time automatically would be highly desired, however it only works sometimes and most times nothing seems to happen and I fail to see any pattern.

From some web and Android source code research I've learned that Android only supports Network Time Protocol (NTP) from Android 4.0 on and before it was NITZ/GSM only - however, that does not explain why I can sometimes set the time automatically with no Sim card.

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Android only supports Network Time Protocol (NTP) from Android 4.0 on and before it was NITZ/GSM only - certainly not in my opinion. The app ClockSync which I use in my LG Optimus One (P500) running Android 2.3.3 (rooted) works with NTP protocol. I did not rely on my GSM operator's time settings as I found the deviation was unacceptable limits.

Please see the question Inaccurate time? How to fix it? and its answer.

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Thank you. We know ClockSync but would prefer not rooting the devices. –  Miriam Mar 13 '13 at 13:24
    
I use ClockSync as well on my (rooted) Optimus 4X (running Android 4.0.3). Every day it adjusts the time by ~1s -- which shows its other "source" is not that accurate. As ClockSync clearly uses NTP, Android's own mechanism must use something different obviously. –  Izzy Mar 13 '13 at 15:56
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