You Might Need to Upgrade Your Phone for Pokemon Go

Matthew Hughes 17-07-2016

Pokemon Go is finally out. All your friends are playing it, and you want to join in. Unfortunately, your Android phone is letting you down, and it’s making you krabby.


It could be the case that Google Play is refusing to let you download it. Certain features of the game (like the awesome augmented-reality view) might not be working. Do you need to buy a new handset, or is the situation not as bad as you might have fearow-ed?

Augmented Reality Requires a Gyroscope

I downloaded Pokemon Go yesterday, and was positively gloom-y to discover that the much-hyped augmented reality (AR) Augmented vs. Virtual Reality: What's the Difference? Augmented reality. Virtual reality. Mixed reality. What are all these "realities" and how are they going to impact you over the next few years? Here's everything you need to know. Read More feature wasn’t available on my device. When I activated it, an error message popped up that said, “We’re not detecting your phone’s orientation. Would you like to turn off AR mode?“.


A bit of googling suggested that this was because my device either did not have a gyroscope, or it was deactivated or otherwise defective.

So, how do you know if your phone has a gyroscope or not? One app I’ve found will answer this question conclusively. It’s called Sensor Kinetics, and it’s free from the Google Play Store. It’s a pretty simple app, showing diagnostic information about the phone’s on-board three-dimensional sensors.



If you don’t know if your phone has a built-in gyroscope, this app will tell you. Unfortunately, it’s not guaranteed. Many manufacturers have removed them in order to reduce costs. My phone – a Huawei Honor 5X – lacks one, despite being a pretty middle-of-the-road device.

While Pokemon Go is playable without the AR mode, I couldn’t escape the feeling that I was missing out on something special.

RAM: Pokemon Go Needs at Least 2GB

If Google Play isn’t letting you download Pokemon Go, it could be because your phone doesn’t meet the steep memory requirements. Pokemon Go is really resource intensive, and if your handset is a bit of a slowpoke, it’ll struggle to run.


Lots of phones – particularly budget ones – skimp on RAM to drive prices down. Last month’s Wileyfox Spark is a great example of this, as it comes with a mere 1GB. To find out how much RAM your device has, tap System, then About Phone, and scroll down to see what it says under RAM. Alternatively, the full specifications of your phone should be listed on GSMArena.


The problem is that Pokemon Go requires a minimum 2GB of RAM. If you have less than that, you won’t be able to download it through the Google Play store and will be forced to acquire the APK from an unofficial source and sideload it How to Sideload Any File onto Your Android Phone or Tablet You may have come across the term "sideloading" before, but what does it mean? And how can you go about sideloading apps or files? Read More .

This is less than ideal, as it can expose your phone to malware. There have already been documented examples of malware masquerading as Pokemon Go APKs Did You Treat Yourself To Pokémon Go Malware? You REALLY want to play Pokemon Go, so you've installed region-free copy acquired from a third party mobile store. But did you know that you could be opening your Android device to malware? Read More . It also means you won’t receive updates as they’re released. The current state of Pokemon Go could charitably be described as rough. It’s inevitable that in the coming months, much-needed patches and performance updates will be released.


You’re also likely to encounter significant performance issues, with gameplay being stuttery and sluggish.

Battery Life: Pokemon Go Used Leech!

Pokemon Go is super effective at draining your battery. My Huawei Honor 5X can typically go a day between charges, but once I installed the game, my battery life was slashed by two-thirds.

A consequence of the unstoppable slimming of phones is that many of them ship with truly wimpy batteries. Thankfully, Pokémon Go comes with a battery-saver feature that, when enabled, lessens the impact. You can find this by tapping Settings, and then scrolling down until you can see Battery Saver. And Abra Kadabra, you should get an extra couple of hours of play time.



You can extend your play-time even further by switching off sound effects, music, and vibration.

In addition, you might want to get yourself a power bank. These have fallen in price over the past few years, and now you can get your hands on one for less than $20. I personally own the Anker Astro E1, which at the time of writing is currently on sale on Amazon for $16.99, instead of $49.99.

If your phone has a user-replaceable battery, and you don’t fancy being constantly tethered to a power brick, you might want to consider purchasing a second battery.

It also wouldn’t be farfetch’d to consider the power needs of Pokemon Go when it comes to replacing your handset. At the high-end of the market is the Samsung Galaxy S7 Active, which has a ludicrous 4,000mAh battery. For those with lesser budgets, the OnePlus 3 is a solid option. Unfortunately, some big-battery budget phones like the Blu Studio Energy (our review BLU Studio Energy Review and Giveaway For only $150, the BLU Studio Energy packs a massive 5,000mAH battery that lasts for days - but is it more than just a huge battery? Read More ) don’t have the required 2GB of RAM.

Only KitKat and Above

This is unavoidable. Pokemon Go only works on Android 4.4 KitKat and newer, including 5.0/5.1 Lollipop Android 5.0 Lollipop: What It Is And When You'll Get It Android 5.0 Lollipop is here, but only on Nexus devices. What exactly is new about this operating system, and when can you expect it to arrive on your device? Read More and 6.0 Marshmallow Android 6.0 Marshmallow: What It Is and When You'll Get It Android Marshmallow is here -- but why should you care? Read More . Thankfully, that covers most phones released in the past two years. You can find your Android version by entering About Phone, and scrolling down to see what it says under Android Version.


If your phone is below that level, you should see if there’s an Over the Air (OTA) update that you’ve neglected to install. As was the case with my (positively ancient) Huawei Honor 3C, which I use as a backup phone, there was an update available from the manufacturer’s website. This came in a ZIP file. In order to install it I had to boot into recovery mode Dealing with System Problems in Android: Safe Mode, Factory Reset & Restoring Backups If you've run into a problem on your Android phone or tablet, this method just might help you save it. Read More . It was clefair-ly easy.

If all these options fail you, your next step should be to see if there’s a recent third-party ROM for your device 6 Best Android 6.0 Marshmallow Custom ROMs If you want to upgrade your phone to Android 6.0 Marshmallow, don't wait! These custom ROMs make it easy. Read More . You might be able to root your device What Is Rooting? What Are Custom ROMs? Learn Android Lingo Ever had a question about your Android device, but the answer had a bunch of words in it that you didn't understand? Let us break down the confusing Android lingo for you. Read More and flash a ROM running a newer version of Android.

Realistically, though, if your phone is running a three-year old version of Android, chances are high that it won’t have the hardware required to run Pokemon Go smoothly. At this point, I’d be seriously contemplating an upgrade.

Pokemon Go is a Demanding App

So, here’s the thing. In just a matter of days, Pokemon Go has seel-ed its place as the biggest mobile game of the year. By no means is it perfectly executed, but it’s undeniably ambitious.

This ambition translates into steep hardware demands. There are phones that were released last month that cannot run Pokémon Go. Many people will be have to upgrade their phones if they want play it — you can’t weedle your way out of some of these requirements.

Have you had any problems playing or installing Pokemon Go? How did you solve them? Do you think I should be banned from making Poke-puns ever again? Let me know in the comments below.

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  1. Souvik Sen
    December 21, 2016 at 3:30 am

    I really love pokemon..infct i was very excited dat when it will released in india..but now atlast it launched..but my phone has 4.4.2 kitkat version and pokemon go is not working on my phone..i can install it..nd when i m giveng my DOB and then m connecting to my gmail account it will showing the previous page again and again..can u please help can i solver this problem!!

  2. Mahdi
    September 20, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    Does anyone know if pokemon go works on huawei honor 7 coz i wanna get it but idk if it works on it

  3. Morten
    August 17, 2016 at 9:15 am

    Also requires magnetometer (compass) for AR

  4. Hamza
    August 4, 2016 at 6:13 am

    The accelorometer can be used to enable an emulated gyroscope on which ar mode on pokemon go works perfectly(requires root):

  5. Ghulam Mustafa
    August 2, 2016 at 11:03 am

    Hey !!

    So technically speaking. One could run Pokemon Go on Huawei Honor 3c ?

  6. Anonymous
    August 1, 2016 at 3:05 pm

    I have a Huawei ascend p7 with 2GB RAM and android 4.4.2 but is apparently "incompatible". Does anyone have any idea as to a way around this?

  7. cindy
    August 1, 2016 at 8:53 am

    I have a huawei ascend y600, with a 4.2.2 android version. I tried downloading pokemon go in Google playstore and it came up with your device isn't compatible with this version. I also tried installing the updatea , it appeared up saying no dates.

  8. Dora
    July 26, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    How specifically did you determine that Pokemon Go requires 2 gigs of RAM, or anything else about the specs?

    NO affordable phone has that much RAM! I want to upgrade to a phone with 1 Gig of RAM, still affordable and should be plenty.

    I was able to download the app just fine from Google Play Store with just .5 gig of RAM on my phone, twice, it's Android and not jail broken, so where did you get the idea I can't?

  9. Vickie
    July 26, 2016 at 3:42 pm

    I have a Moto G 3rd gen, and even though I can download the game, most of the time the Avatar does not walk. sometimes she will walk, but then she will stop and not move anymore so I close the app and re-open it. A lot of the time she just wont walk from the get go. Any help would be appreciated.

    • Matthew Hughes
      July 31, 2016 at 4:16 pm

      I get that a lot. I think it's an issue on their end. The avatar tracking frankly sucks.

  10. Maja
    July 23, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    You failed to tell, that insteed of using time on rooting your mobile and installing a newer android, take into consideration that maybe your mobile model simply CAN NOT RUN THE GAME.... Some phones just can't no matter what android you have.

    • Matthew Hughes
      July 31, 2016 at 4:15 pm

      I figured that'd be obvious. ;)

  11. Moewser
    July 20, 2016 at 4:07 am

    Hi. I'm having trouble. Can you help me pls. So I'm on a Android tablet and I don't know wich version I need to download Pokemon version 6.0.1.. if you know what version I need. Thank you

    • Laurens
      July 23, 2016 at 3:44 pm

      My Moto G 1st edition lagg a bit when playing.. :(

    • Matthew Hughes
      July 27, 2016 at 3:26 pm

      Yep. Android 6.0.1 will work with Pokemon Go.

  12. Cyberspaced
    July 19, 2016 at 9:52 am

    My moto g 1st gen works like a charm and yet my son's moto g 2nd gen can't play it at all. Go figure!

    • yuvaraj r
      July 25, 2016 at 11:47 pm

      from where did you get the download bro....

    • Matthew Hughes
      July 27, 2016 at 3:27 pm

      How strange, given that both only come with 1GB of RAM.

  13. Damon
    July 19, 2016 at 8:38 am

    You're not missing out on AR. Literally EVERYONE I know has turned it off as it's an unessesary battery drain, and doesn't really add much to the game.

    • Matthew Hughes
      July 27, 2016 at 3:28 pm

      Yeah, at first I was a bit disappointed, but now I don't care.

  14. Peter
    July 18, 2016 at 9:55 pm

    Game is running fine on my tablet with 1 GB of RAM. Although I have AR turned off now to save battery. But I did not noticed any problems when it was on.

    • Matthew Hughes
      July 27, 2016 at 3:28 pm

      Glad to hear!

  15. Alixander
    July 18, 2016 at 5:08 pm

    super informative, did not like feel like reading specs written in PERSIAN, and the puns were awesome.

    • Matthew Hughes
      July 27, 2016 at 3:28 pm

      Haha. I'm glad you liked them Alixander.

  16. Mike
    July 18, 2016 at 8:57 am

    I recently bought a vodafone smart ultra 6 - octacore processor, 2GB Ram for £110 including £10 credit on PAYG - nice phone, and I bought a code off ebay to unlock it for about £1.50. Plays Go fine - with the exception of the fact that it has no gyroscope and so can't use AR mode (which I've heard several people say they turn off anyway because it can make catching pokemon more difficult)

    • Matthew Hughes
      July 27, 2016 at 3:28 pm

      The chap above said that he turns it off because it's a performance and battery drain. I guess we're not missing much.

  17. Mary Murray
    July 18, 2016 at 6:14 am

    Argh. My Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus works with Go, but not my kids S3. I can't figure if this is because of the processor or something else. My os is 4.4. I would love to know which Galaxy S phones DO work with Pokemon Go.

    I would like to find a cheap phone that'll run this aol. Help?

    • TT
      July 18, 2016 at 7:34 am

      The 3S had 1GB of RAM. My S3 Neo has 1,5 GB of RAM and also does not run Pokemon Go. It is not even to be found in the Play Store on that phone.

      So im afraid you will have to get the APK if you really want to get it on the S3.

      Also a "cheap" phone with 2 GB+ RAM a desent CPU and GPU chip..... Those are had to find im afraid.

    • Matthew Hughes
      July 27, 2016 at 3:29 pm

      Hey Mary,

      I'd enthusiastically recommend the Huawei 5X. Not sure where you live, but search for it on your local Amazon.