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About the product
- The Pokémon GO Plus is a small device that lets you enjoy Pokémon GO while you're on the move and not looking at your smartphone
- The device connects to a smartphone via Bluetooth low energy and notifies you about events in the game, such as the appearance of a Pokémon nearby using an LED and vibration
- The Pokémon GO Plus will begin to blink and vibrate whenever you're within range of a PokéStop; Press the Pokémon GO Plus button to search the PokéStop for items; If you find any items, they'll immediately be added to your inventory
- When a Pokémon is near, the light on the Pokémon GO Plus will flash; It will also flash and vibrate when you pass a PokéStop;Not compatible with Android devices that use Intel Atom processors
- Once a Pokémon is close, press the button on the Pokémon GO Plus to throw a Poké Ball ;The Pokémon GO Plus will flash and vibrate to let you know if you were successful in catching the Pokémon
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From the manufacturer
*Please refer to compatibility information on the Pokémon GO Plus Support Site.
**Pokémon GO Plus is unable to provide an alert for any Pokémon attracted by the in-game item Incense.
Please note: Pokémon GO Plus cannot be used on its own.
Nintendo Pokemon Go Plus
Enjoy the Pokémon GO experience without looking at your smartphone.
Pokémon GO Plus, the small wearable device that lets players interact with Pokémon GO without looking at their smartphone.
Compatible with both iOS and Android*, Pokémon GO Plus connects to smartphones via Bluetooth low energy and notifies players about nearby Pokémon and PokéStops. When a Pokémon is near, the device will vibrate and its LED will flash green**. Players can press the button on the device once close to throw a Poké Ball. A successful catch will result in the device flashing and vibrating.
Nintendo Pokemon Go Plus
The Pokémon GO Plus device will vibrate and flash blue whenever in range of a PokéStop, allowing players to receive items with a simple tap of the Pokémon GO Plus button. Pokémon GO Plus can also be used while Pokémon GO is running in the background on smartphones. Pokémon GO will track distance even while running in the background, allowing you to hatch eggs and earn candies for a Buddy Pokémon.
The Pokemon GO Plus accessory can be used with any compatible smart phone that has the Pokemon GO application installed. After the Pokemon GO Plus is paired via Bluetooth LE and a brief setup process is completed, players can encounter and catch Pokemon like never before. When the smart phone with Pokemon GO and the paired Pokemon GO Plus accessory are within range of each other, both will begin to vibrate when a Pokemon is close by. With the convenience of not having to look at your smart phone, simply press the button on the Pokemon GO Plus to attempt to catch a Pokemon while you are out and about.
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To summarize, the PoGO+ is terrific for tracking distance for egg hatching, and makes it much faster to capture Pokémon and grind for XP, though it's not as great at spinning Pokéstops. The ability to play the game with the screen off greatly improves your smartphone battery life, and a single button makes it easy to use while on the GO. The main downside is that a lot of Pokémon (especially rare/high-CP ones) will run away, and you will quickly deplete your stock of Red Pokéballs.
Here are the good things about this device:
+++Tracks distance even while the screen is locked or off, as long as the app was not closed. This means your battery won't drain nearly as quickly, and egg hatching / buddy walking is more accurate (still restricted by the 10.5km/h or 6.5mph speed limit).
+Allows wild Pokémon to be captured, and Pokéstops to be spun, as long as they are in range. I was able to spin Pokéstops and capture Pokémon while biking at about 10-15mph.
+Blinks green for Pokémon you've already encountered (vibration pattern: 6 long buzzes), yellow for Pokémon that are not in your Pokédex (vibration pattern: 4 short buzzes, then 1 long buzz)
+Blinks blue for spinnable Pokéstops within range (vibration pattern: 2 short buzzes, repeated 3 times)
+Vibration is strong, so you can have it in your pocket and still feel it
+Both a clip and an adjustable watchband are included in the box (screwdriver is needed to swap the backplate between clip or watchband)
+Sends notifications when a Pokémon are caught / flee on your smartphone
And the bad things:
---Attempts to catch each Pokémon only once, after which it will flee. The ball will be thrown without a curve, and will not receive a Nice/Great/Excellent bonus. This is a problem at higher trainer levels, because Pokémon with higher CP, as well as evolved forms, become more likely to break out of Pokéballs. On the bright side, you still get the 25XP for Pokémon that flee.
---When capturing Pokémon, it will only use Red Pokéballs, and will not use Great/Ultra balls when you run out of Red ones. It will not use Berries either.
-The Android app does not always display Pokémon detected by the PoGO+ (I cannot say whether the iFruit version has this issue)
-Automatically disconnects after about an hour (power saving feature, cannot be disabled)
-Limited 3-month warranty (same as video games, but much shorter than the typical 1-year warranty for electronic hardware/consoles)
Some of the initial drawbacks were since fixed in newer versions of the app:
-PoGO+ can only issue one action at a time, and seems to give higher priority to catching Pokémon over spinning Pokéstops. It's still much faster to use your phone to spin multiple Pokéstops that are located within a small area. EDIT1: starting with the 0.41.2 version of PoGO, you are now able to choose to be notified for only Pokéstops, or only Pokémon, or neither if you are just using the device for egg hatching. The prioritization still favors Pokémon over Pokéstops, which can't be changed at this time.
-Automatically disconnects if a Pokémon is tapped in the app, and does not automatically reconnect. Fortunately, spinning Pokéstops on the phone doesn't cause the PoGO+ to disconnect. EDIT2: Starting with the 0.41.2 version of PoGO, the PoGO+ will now stay connected even after tapping on Pokémon or tapping on Gyms.
-There is no "low battery" warning, the only indication is that the device blinks the white LED, and tries to connect to your smartphone but is unable to complete successfully. The battery lasted exactly one month for me with about 2-5 hours of daily usage. EDIT3: Starting with the 0.43.3 version of PoGO, the app displays a low-battery icon when the PoGO+ has less than 30% battery life remaining.
Not every change was an improvement, some things took steps backward:
--PoGO+ will no longer capture Pokémon or spin Pokéstops when travelling at a speed of around 25mph or faster (the speed at which the "should not be used while driving" message appears on the app).
--PoGO+ often has trouble pairing with the app, the Pokéstop speed lock often results in being out of range by the time PoGO+ flashes blue, and PoGO+ often stops functioning while stationary. EDIT
In the 6 months I have been using this device (since its release in September 2016), the device was very usable through October, but has been very glitchy from November onwards. Since then, I have noticed the PoGO+ often has difficulty pairing with my phone, which can usually be resolved by force closing the app and resetting the cache. Anytime I am moving at a speed over 10mph, the latency of the PoGO+ when approaching a Pokéstop is often bad enough for me to already be out of range by the time the button flashes blue. The PoGO+ will often not trigger while stationary. It works better when the screen is on with the app visible, which negates the power-savings advantage. In it's current state, I no longer consider this worthy of 4 stars, and even 3 stars may be too much. EDIT4: The pairing issues were mostly (but not completely) resolved with the 0.51.0 update.
This review was initially based on the 0.37.0 (Android) version, which was released on September 10, 2016. I have been updating the review as the app continues to evolve, and the current version is 0.57.4 as of March 14, 2017. I hope that some of the issues will be addressed by future updates, but have learned not to expect anything when it comes to Niantic :-)
UPDATE1: The 0.41.2 version (October 11, 2016) of the app resolved a couple of issues with prioritization and disconnections, see EDIT1 and EDIT2
UPDATE2: The 0.43.3 version (October 24, 2016) of the app added a low-battery icon, see EDIT3
UPDATE3: In late October 2016, there was a server-side update which blocked Pokémon from spawning in the app and PoGO+, when travelling at speeds faster than about 25mph. In early November 2016, this "speed lock" restriction was expanded to also block Pokéstops from giving exp/items.
UPDATE4: In the 0.51.0 version (December 19, 2016) of the app, the hatching of an egg no longer blocks the PoGO+ from operating, previously the egg hatching animation had to be viewed or pinched closed in the app for the PoGO+ to resume functionality.
UPDATE5: The 0.55.0 version (January 28, 2017) of the app resolved many of the issues with pairing the PoGO+ device on the Android version. I still occasionally have issues with pairing, and the device still doesn't work reliably when stationary.
UPDATE6: In the 0.57.2 version (February 15, 2017), a 50XP "First Catch" bonus is now given if the Pokémon is successfully caught on the first throw. This effectively increases all successful PoGO+ catches from 100XP to 150XP. (This also happens to be the update which gave us catchable Gen2 Pokémon)
Still, playing the game in the crowded City can get a bit tough. I try my hardest not to be one of “those people”–those people who plant their faces in their phones playing the game oblivious to the people (and cars) around them. New York is the type of City where if you’re even slightly in the path of someone walking, some jerks will invariably go out of their way to elbow or bump you to “teach you a lesson”.
Pokemon GO Plus is a device that you can strap around your wrist (or more likely that you can surreptitiously hold in your hand so that no one is the wiser that you’re playing) and use to do a few things in Pokemon GO: track your distance walked, collect items from PokeStops, and catch wild Pokemon (to a certain extent--see below), all without looking at your phone screen. As long as you have the latest version of the app installed you'll be able to use it.
Inside the box you'll get the Pokemon Go Plus device itself, which is about the size of a quarter and about 1/4 inch thick. It’s made of solid plastic that’s brightly colored to look like a Regular Ball. It comes with an additional cloth wristband in the default red, white, and blue colors.
The unit also comes attached with a solid plastic clip you can use to attach to your pocket or belt. There’s also a little hole to attach to a strap (not included) if you want to wear it around your neck. Very important–if you want to use the wristband, you’ll need to unscrew the ENTIRE back of the device and then snap it onto the holder on the band. (I can only imagine that certain point who don’t read the manual are going to try to forcibly “snap” the belt clip off, which would be a problem).
To start using it, you just need to pull out the plastic tab to activate the battery. Next, you open the Pokemon GO app and click “Settings”. You’ll want to click on the menu option that says “Pokemon GO Plus”. Once you’re on the Pokemon GO plus screen, tap the button on your device. Your unit should flash and your should see your device show up under “Available Devices”.
Back on the main screen you'll see a greyed-out icon on your Pokemon GO map. Tap that icon and after doing a one-time pairing of the device to your phone via Bluetooth you'll be able to tap that icon on and off whenever you want to use the device. Note that from time to time your Bluetooth connection will break--you'll be able to tell if this happens because the icon will go grey again. If this happens just tap the icon and it’ll be activated again (in some cases I've had to restart the app or even reboot my phone to get it to recognize again, but thankfully those are few and far between).
From this point, you can start playing the game without looking at your phone screen. Your phone screen will still show you the status of what’s happening, but you don't need to be watching it.
Now here’s how it works in action.
When you pass by a Pokemon, the device will emit up to six long vibrations and the light will flash green if it encounters a Pokemon you've caught already (if it encounters one you haven't caught yet, it'll flash yellow). On the screen there’ll be a message that says “Pokemon is in range!” and you'll see a thin yellow line from the GO Plus icon to the Pokemon it found to let you know which one it’ll be going after. You can press the button on the device any time during the six vibrations. Behind the scenes, the app will attempt to catch that Pokemon by throwing a single Regular Ball at it (it will not use Great Balls or Ultra Balls, even if you’re out of Regular Balls).
You'll feel three short vibrations (which are meant to simulate the three times the animated ball "shakes" in the on-screen animation). If you do catch something the device will vibrate five medium-length times to let you know you got it and the LED lights will flash rainbow colors in celebration. If it misses, it'll let you know by quickly vibrating twice (think "sad trombone") and flashing a red light.
Aggravatingly, I had a Pidgey, a Gastly, a Dugtrio, and a Voltorb all run away before I finally caught a Goldeen. Overall my ratio seems to be about a 30-50% catch rate, which is about what I'd expect if I tried to catch every Pokemon with only a single Regular Ball on the first try at my current level with no curveball bonus (if you're at a lower level, chances are your catch ratio will likely be much higher). Over time, I've found that you catch mostly low CP Pokemons, with only the occasional higher one. For this reason, you definitely don’t want to be using the device in areas where you suspect there might be rare or high powered Pokemons--or anytime you see that yellow light flash indicating a new Pokemon you don't already have (to deactivate the device and assume manual control, just tap on the GO Plus logo or tap on the screen to attempt to capture the Pokemon like normal).
While the high miss rate might sound like an annoyance, I've concluded that it's a fair trade-off, as clicking a button is much, much easier than taking out your phone, tapping the Pokemon on the screen, and swiping the ball over and over again. I actually appreciate how they put a lot of thought into the effort-reward calculation rather than just automatically letting people who paid for the device get 100% of the Pokemons every time. By doing it the way, they ensure that you'll still play the way the game was intended to be played most of the time, but will be able to use the GO Plus device in situations where you simply can't look at your phone but still want at least a chance to catch something, such as when you're driving, biking, jogging or walking in the rain.
PokeStops are a bit more friendly. When you pass by a PokeStop, the device will vibrate in two quick pulses (again, repeating up to six times) and the LED light will flash blue. If you're looking on your screen you’ll see a line from the GO Plus icon to the Stop that you’ll be collecting items from. Click on your device, and you'll feel a vibration (I'm guessing meant to simulate the PokeStop "spinning") and then you’ll collect all the items at that Stop (the device will buzz for each item you’ve collected and the screen will tell you how many items you’ve gotten).
You do need to have the app open when using the device, but it can be running in the background as you use most other apps (the only exception I've found so far is with the Camera app on the iPhone). When using another app you'll see notifications letting you know if you've caught a Pokemon or if you've collected items from a PokeStop. The phone screen can even be locked and it’ll still work.
Even better news–it’ll continue to track your distance in both cases, meaning you’ll get “credit” for the distance to your Buddy Pokemon and your Eggs. In fact, when using this device the distance calculations seem much more accurate than without it.
For both PokeStops and Pokemons you catch you’ll get the normal amount of XP, candy, and stardust that you would if you were playing on your phone (there is a bug right now where you can't see the stardust you've earn right away, but rest assured it's there--just kill the app and restart it and you'll see all the numbers updated). It’s a great way to load up on stardust, the one thing I never seem to have enough of.
As far as power, the device uses the larger CR2032 watch battery (the one about the size of a nickel), but because it uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) you’re not going to be swapping out batteries very often, even with daily use. And when you do need to change batteries, you can generally find replacements on Amazon or eBay for pennies.
Overall, I’m very happy with this device, and can easily give it 5 of 5 stars–as with all other Nintendo devices it’s really well made–it’s just a shame that Nintendo took two months to get it out; had they gotten in out in July they would have been able to print money.
But this is just the thing that’ll may just re-ignite interest in the game for a lot of those who left. It opens up new ways of being able to play the game that were impossible before–you can play while riding a bike, navigating through a crowd of people pressing against each other, walking in a rain or snow storm, and even on a slow-to-moderate moving car, bus, or train–all without the need to keep your nose buried in the phone screen. And if you're in college or at a meeting at work that happens to be over a PokeStop, you can quietly collect Pokemons during meetings without anyone being the wiser :P Another nice perk of the device is that you don't need to constantly be checking your phone to see if a Pokemon has shown up from a fresh lure or if the 5 minutes before you can collect new items is up--the instant either of these things happen your device will vibrate to let you know.
A lot of people ask if you need this if you'll be getting the Pokemon GO app on the Apple Watch. I'd say yes--as convenient as the Watch app is, you'll still need to look at it and swipe it. With this, you don't need to look at your phone, your watch, or anything else. Just hold it in your hand, feel for the buzzes, and you're set. Overall I highly recommend getting this if you’re anything between a casual and a fanatical Pokemon GO player. As with most hardware from Nintendo, it’s not just well-made but may even become somewhat of a a collector’s item in time.
Unfortunately, Nintendo yet again seems to not have forecast the demand properly, so there will be shortages in the beginning. As others have noted, I'd make sure to NOT buy from the price gougers on Amazon or eBay (these are the folks I presume are voting down my review). If other recent Nintendo hardware is any indication, Nintendo will overcompensate and there'll be a glut of these in a few weeks at $34.99.