If you’ve been obsessed with Pokémon GO since it came out (like me), then you’ve probably at least considered getting the Pokémon GO Plus — the little device that’s supposed to help you catch Pokémon without even opening the app.
Well, I’ve spent quite a bit of time with the Plus, and it certainly has its positives and its negatives. Read on to see if it’s worth the $35 investment (if you can find it in stock), or enter our giveaway for a chance to win this Plus for free!
Out of the Box
The Pokémon GO Plus comes wrapped in bubble wrap inside a small box. There’s a little instruction booklet and a wristband included if you want to wear it like a watch.
Unfortunately, attaching the Plus to the wristband requires unscrewing the back plate (the wristband has an integrated backplate), so if you don’t have a tiny screwdriver, you’re out of luck. I just kept it clipped on my shirt or pants most of the time.
The clip seems like you’d be able to press on the top to make the bottom pop up, but there’s no such action here. To clip it onto something, you’ll simply have to slide it over the fabric. It is extremely sturdy once snapped on, though.
Setting it up is simple enough — just go into the settings within the Pokemon GO app and tap Pokémon GO Plus. Then hold the button on the Plus (you can’t miss it, there’s only one) until it’s flashing blue. You should see it appear in the app; just tap it to sync them.
And now you’re all ready to go! So how useful is this thing, really?
The Plus essentially only serves three purposes: catching Pokémon you’ve already caught (and thereby earning you experience and candies), earning you walking distance (for hatching eggs and getting candies from your buddy), and getting items from Pokéstops.
With the Plus, you can catch Pokémon without constantly having your phone out and having to stare down at it. That’s probably the main reason most people will get this device, and the mechanics of it are painfully simple.
The Plus will blink green and vibrate when a Pokémon is within range. You then tap the button once to throw a Pokéball (no great balls or ultra balls, don’t worry). The Plus will blink white and vibrate lightly for each time the Pokéball rocks back and forth. If it makes it through all three blinks and the catch is successful, it will go wild with a barrage of vibrations and flash rainbow colors.
If the Pokémon escapes and flees (they seem to flee immediately if they break out when using the Plus), the Plus will blink red and give a quick double vibration.
The biggest drawback is probably that this only works for Pokémon you’ve already caught. So if that elusive Dragonite appears nearby, and you don’t have the app up and running, you’ll have no idea.
The second major problem I ran into was running out of Pokéballs. Unless you’re wandering around a Pokéstop-rich area, you’re going to run out of Pokéballs quick using this thing. And the most annoying part? It will keep vibrating every single time a Pokémon appears, but you can’t catch any without Pokéballs. So if you’re at home or in another Pokéstop-less area, you basically have to disconnect your Plus or it will drive you bonkers.
Earning Walking Distance
Walking around a few kilometers each day isn’t too much of a challenge, but doing it with your phone out and the Pokémon GO app running is a lot harder. I ended up appreciating this aspect of the Plus the most, because it meant that I could rack up the kilometers without having to stare down at my phone constantly.
If you have a buddy by your side (and you really should, because, why not?), they’ll earn kilometers while you’re walking around with the Plus. The buddy system is the only way to get candies and level up Pokémon aside from capturing more of them in the wild, so this is the most effective way of evolving your way to a Charizard or a Raichu.
The walking distance will also count towards your eggs, but they won’t actually hatch until you open the app, so be sure to check it at least every few kilometers to see if you have any new Pokémon just waiting to be hatched.
Getting Items From Pokéstops
The Plus will vibrate and blink blue whenever there’s a Pokéstop within range, and you simply tap the button to collect the items from it. This can be confusing if you don’t look down at the Plus to see the color of the light, because the vibration feels exactly the same as when there’s a Pokémon nearby. Still, it’s a useful feature — but mainly for one use in particular.
Have you ever been hanging out somewhere that was a Pokéstop — like a library or a park — and wanted to get items from the Pokéstop every 5 minutes but kept forgetting? The Plus will go off as soon as the Pokéstop is refreshed and available again, basically giving you a reminder every few minutes and helping you rack up those items.
Unfortunately, the Plus has a bad habit of disconnecting randomly. Most of the time, I wouldn’t notice for a while until I realized that my hip hadn’t been buzzing at all. To reconnect it, you just have to open the app and tap the Plus icon in the upper left, then tap the button on the Plus.
I think this might have something to do with the game getting dropped out of RAM on my Moto G4 Plus (which has a pretty large 4 GB of RAM), since the game has to be constantly running in the background for the Plus to work. That also makes it a bit of a battery hog, though certainly not as much as playing the game regularly.
There’s also a persistent notification when the Plus is connected that will tell you about whatever last happened on your Plus. You can use this to verify if the Pokémon you tried to catch got away or was captured (if you didn’t feel the vibration for some reason), or you can use it to check if you just hit a Pokéstop or caught a Pokémon (if you didn’t see the color of the light).
And the last note I have on this device is that while I can’t recommend you use it while driving, it’s certainly a million times less distracting than playing the actual game while driving — which you absolutely should not do. Tapping the button on the Plus doesn’t require you to take your eyes off the road, and it’s essentially just like changing the radio station.
Should You Get It?
Priced at $35, I’d say the Plus is a worthy investment if you’re already pouring hours into this game. It will probably encourage you to walk more (it has absolutely had this effect on me), and it will make the game just a bit more fun.
That being said, if the novelty of Pokemon GO has already worn off on you, or your phone just can’t handle it, I would hold off. If you’re gonna spend $35 on something, you should make sure you’d actually get good use out of it.
But, as of the writing of this article, the Plus is still out of stock pretty much everywhere in the US and is going for around $100 on eBay. Trust me, this thing is great, but it’s not worth $100. At the end of the day, it’s a cheap little piece of a plastic that helps you play a game.
If you can find a Pokémon GO Plus in-stock for $35 and you’re still regularly playing Pokémon GO, you should get it. But if the game is starting to feel boring or you can’t find it for less than $100, I’d skip it for now.