Top critical review
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Will either make or break the game for you!
on September 19, 2016
First introduced by Shigeru Miyamoto during E3 2016, the Pokémon GO Plus has arrived in September, several months after the originally announced release date. Was the wait worth it? The answer is that it depends...on how you use it!
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)