Today, 16th September 2016, is the official release date of the GO Plus companion device worldwide. We are lucky to have some great friends and family (*) overseas who got the device earlier. With their help, we’re bringing you a full overview of the Pokemon GO Plus device.

Disclaimer: our thoughts and opinions on the device are evident from the heading. We disliked a lot about this 35$ companion, but we’ll try to keep an objective stance and deliver a fair review.

(*) For Jana, if she’s reading this in Seattle: kulen and džezva will arrive sometimes in October. Thanks for all the Skype calls 🙂

Pokemon GO Plus Hardware and Box Contents

Pokemon GO Plus is a fairly small pin looking device, weighing around 13 grams with the battery inserted. The battery is a standard 3V button battery (CR2032) and comes pre installed. We are happy to see a standard battery used as a power source and we expect to change the battery fairly rarely.

Right out of the box, the GO Plus feels cheap. There’s no other way to put it – the device is a two colored plastic shell, with a single LED on the center of the device and a plastic clip on the back. On the bright side the LED is clicky enough to be pleasing, although is a far cry from modern watch buttons and from the good old GameBoy A/B buttons.

Pokemon GO Plus Size
Pokemon GO Plus Size

The strap is also made from low cost materials and plastic, with a very cheap feeling when handled.  The entire look and feel reminded us a lot of kids toy watches, cellphones and Tamagotchi devices from the 90s and 00s. Do note that the strap is really small – anyone with slightly larger wrists is going to have a really bad time.

Attaching the GO Plus on to the strap is not easy – you need a small Phillips screwdriver and some patience to open the hard shell and remove the bottom part.

After removing the bottom portion of the GO Plus device, you need to position it over another screw on the strap and screw it in place again. Be careful not to screw to hard, as the screw casing and holes are all hard plastic.

The contents of the official box are not special either:

  • GO Plus device in a bubble wrap
    • The device can be clipped on bags, shirts and belts
    • A plastic strip separates the battery from contact points – be sure to pull it out before use 🙂
  • GO Plus wrist strap
  • A lot of paper in various languages

11302666-4044397973080121Pokemon GO Usage and experience overview

Jana, our friend in Seattle used the GO Plus for around 5 hours after she received the device and her experience was a mixed bag. The device lost connectivity a few times while testing, but overall it was fairly reliable and not obstructive.

As she reported, the device was fun to use for a while. However, after 2-3 hours of constant vibrations coming from the GO Plus and the fact you’re not able to see what Pokemon you’re capturing, she took it off her wrist for a while and used it as a distance tracker only.

She did put it back on again after 30 minutes of jogging and she found that the distance was tracked perfectly. The reconnection process was again flaky, but it worked. She also reported that the device disconnected randomly once in her backpack.

Some facts regarding the game play and usage:

  • GO Plus uses only normal PokeBalls
    • You get 1 chance to capture a Pokemon
    • It glows green when encountering a Pokemon
  • You can collect items from a Poke Stop
    • LED is blue before and purple after you collect, same like in app
    • Pokemon are prioritised over Poke Stops
  • It works in the background
    • You still need your phone in the pocket but it can be locked – works both on iOS and Android
  • It tracks distance really well 
    • Jana said it’s not comparable to smartphone tracking, nor before or after the recent improvement to in app distance tracking
    • Jana tracked 97% of distance walked and 90% of distance she ran
  • It can miss Poke Stops
    • it scans the area at a set interval, if you’re unlucky it’s going to miss something
  • You disconnect from GO Plus if you act on your phone
  • It vibrates and blinks with crazy rainbow colors when you capture
  • No, Incense does not work with the device. Lure does

Conclusion

First of all, big thanks to Jana for her testing and our friends and family in Seattle for keeping her company while testing. Now, onwards to the conclusion.

We honestly don’t think you should get a Pokemon GO Plus device. No, seriously, don’t get it. The build quality is not good, the device is not fashionable in any way and there is not much utility in having it. It only uses normal PokeBalls and you have no idea what you’re capturing.

When you add the hefty 35$ price to the poor build quality and limited utility, the GO Plus looks even less compelling.

Verdict: Don’t drink the kool aid – if you are not a hardware collector, Nintendo die hard fan or a really  hardcore Pokemon GO player, forget about GO Plus. Your smartphone is still the king. If you really think it’s cool, wait until prices drop below $35 on eBay and Amazon.

  • GonzoI

    This is significantly out of date in certain parts.
    – Doesn’t show purple for spun stops (acts as if they aren’t there now)
    – Acting on your phone does not disconnect GO Plus anymore.
    – Does not stay connected for long enough of a period to accurately track walking if you’re not using it almost constantly.
    – Random disconnects have increased.

    The main benefit it gives me is that I can actually use my phone as a phone again. Previously, if I got a call, text, email or whatnot on my phone and answered them, GO would send my avatar off running at 50 miles an hour when I switched back even though I was sitting still. Now it usually is standing still when I switch back.

    The second benefit it gives is sweeping Nearby out for Sightings – I can walk to each pokestop in range, use the GO+ on each thing there to make it run or be caught so it’s off Nearby. Then I can see Sightings again for things hiding between stops.

    The third benefit is passive play. I can sit at work with the phone screen off and GO+ near my hand. Every time it buzzes, I press it. The same is true of doing housework, meetings, family events, social gatherings, meals, or anything else where you couldn’t catch the pokemon otherwise. I do suggest being open about it, though. If you tell people what it is and then it buzzes, they have an interest in it and then it fades into background noise. If they find out when you start pressing it, they think you’re interacting with it more than you are and get offended. That’s especially important when it’s your employer. If they think you’re playing a game that’s more than just slapping a button when it buzzes, they are probably going to take disciplinary action. If they know what it is and what it does beforehand, they’ll either tell you not to do it at work, or they won’t care. I do it a lot while shopping since Walmart and similar places have massive cell usage and thus massive normal type spawns (From pidgey & ratatta up to the occasional Snorlax or Lickitung.) I can get 2k stardust pressing it on one shopping trip. Downside is that I also occasionally see things like “Snorlax ran” in my Journal, but I wasn’t going to have gotten them anyway.

    The fourth benefit is that it advertises what I’m doing. I don’t have to explain to security why I’m walking the sidewalk around a building late at night when a pokeball starts flashing on my shirt. Other people get interested in the game when they see it. Others who currently aren’t playing take out their phones to see what I’m catching.

    The disconnects and failures to connect, though… are exceedingly frustrating. I’ll often go through the entire troubleshooting list and then have to just wait for a half hour and try again.