I have been playing Pokémon Go since shortly after it came out and, as a Geek Squad Agent, I naturally began wondering what tech tweaks or additional equipment could I use to make game play more fun. Here's a post I wrote trying to answer those questions.
Pokémon Go players must have a smartphone running Android 4.4 (KitKat) or higher in order to play the game smoothly. (If you are not sure which version you are running, here's a way to find out.) There have been some availability issues for players using Apple devices and some tablets. Older phones or devices with Intel processors won't work with the game, so you may want to check your device to make sure your aren't disappointed when you download the app. Nintendo, Niantic, and Google are working on rolling the game out to different devices and regions, so if your device isn't supported yet, don't give up hope. You will want to look at the company's website and other resources to check for options, updates and roll outs as they come available.
One thing I have discovered is you will need a STRONG internet connection and a high-usage data connection for playing in the wild. If you have a limited data plan, you may have difficulty playing this game out in the wild because when you're out there, you'll be connected through your phone's mobile data. And you would be amazed at how fast you can burn through the data on your plan with this game. Also, as of 7/20/2016, if you're swapping between WIFI and cellular network, the game has a high likelihood to freeze. I recommend playing on data only when you're in the wild.
Finally, you are going to want to have at least one battery backup handy and fully charged when you go out in search of Pokémon. Because the game requires GPS and location services on your device to be turned on and you must have the app open in order to be able to play, there is significant demand on your battery. Playing the game will run your battery down fairly quickly and there is nothing worse than finding a Pokéstop only to run out of charge when it comes time to catch the Pokémon there.
According to Gamespot.com, the developers are aware of the battery issue and working on a solution. In the meantime, here are some ways around the problem:
- Replacement Device Battery
Depending on your phone, you may be able to “hot swap” your phone battery if you run low on power out in the wild. My device goes through about 10% charge every 10 minutes while playing the game. I can play for about an hour before having to start worrying about charging up or swapping out. To save battery life, it is a good idea to stop or disable all other apps and prevent services like sync and update from running in the background. I like to have a battery backup (see below) plugged in to my device while playing. This prevented my phone from dying in the middle of an important capture.
- Pokémon GO Plus Wrist Wearable
- The Pokémon Go Plus wrist wearable is not available yet, but it sounds like it will allow you to be notified of Pokémon in the wild and capture with a tap on the device, instead of having to have your phone out and in front of your face.
- We checked with one of our people at Best Buy and confirmed that the Pokémon GO Plus will be available for purchase through Best Buy when it comes out. We thought the device release was going to be toward the end of July, but that did not happen. Release date is not available.
- Solar backpack
Available at Best Buy, backpacks with solar panels are an eco-friendly way for you to charge your phone on the go. It also gives you a place for your water bottle, snacks and other equipment you'll need while out in the wild.
- Battery Backup
If you don't have a solar backpack, you can use a portable battery backup. For Android devices, you're going to want something with USB quick charge and high capacity. I personally own the Insignia NS-MB20800 75Wh which I purchased through Best Buy. It features overload protection and 20,800 mAh capacity. It works well for me.
For Apple devices we recommend the Mophie PowerStation 8X external battery, which also can be used for Android devices with the correct adapter.
We don't recommend the small charge backups for this use. Your device pulls a lot of power and it only takes a couple of minutes for the small chargers to be fully drained . They just don't provide enough power to run the device while playing. If this is the only option available, you may have to shut your device off prior to charging.
- Sunscreen, Water Bottle & Snacks
You'll get dehydrated pretty quickly out walking those Pokéstops if you're playing during the day, and snacks are always nice to munch while you're sitting at a Pokéstops after dropping a lure. And don't forget the sunscreen! Nobody likes feeling like they've just been in a battle with a Flareon and sunscreen can help keep your skin safe!
Serving clients since 2011, Agent Kate B currently is on assignment with Geek Squad Remote Support’s Quality Assurance Team. In her spare time she is the Agent Team Lead for the Geek Squad/ Yahoo! Answers Social Medial Partnership and a regular contributor to other areas of Geek Squad Social Media. When she’s not at work, she stays busy with community and civic involvement and makes blankets for kids with Cancer through www.afaproject.org. Follow her on Twitter @AgentKateB.