Gaming

For more Pokemon Go, add the Plus

Trainers can use this device to play without the app being open.
Trainers can use this device to play without the app being open.PHOTO: NINTENDO

This wearable makes it much easier to play the game

When the Pokemon Go Plus wearable was released in the US last month, it sparked a buying frenzy. The Bluetooth-enabled device allows trainers to catch Pokemon and spin Pokestops without the app being open.

The Plus sold out almost as quickly as it became available for pre-order, and within hours of its launch, the US$34.99 (S$47.69) gadget was being sold on sites such as eBay for two to three times the original price.

My partner and I ordered a pair of the devices from a seller in Canada, and they arrived last week.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: US$34.99 (S$47.69; local price unknown)

    LOCAL AVAILABILITY: Unknown

  • RATING

  • FEATURES: 3/5

    DESIGN: 3/5

    PERFORMANCE: 2/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: Unknown

    OVERALL: 3/5

So, is the Pokemon Go Plus worth the hype? My verdict: Not quite.

First off, the device looks and feels pretty cheap. The Plus is made entirely of plastic, and the build quality differs from unit to unit. While my partner's unit feels solid, mine rattles quite a bit when it vibrates.

Its battery is also not rechargeable, and there is no news yet on how long it lasts. To replace the battery, trainers will have to take a cross-head screwdriver to the back of the device, which is not very convenient.

Second, the Bluetooth connection between the device and the phone can be quite spotty. Mine had a tendency to unpair after about 45 minutes, and there were long stretches of time when the device would arbitrarily refuse to connect.

I tried everything, from restarting my phone to unpairing and re-pairing the device, but my Plus seemed to have a mind of its own.

Then again, my partner's Plus had no problems, so maybe it is just the luck of the draw.

Once you get connection issues sorted out, though, the Pokemon Go Plus is a great way for trainers to add more Pokemon into their lives.

Using the Plus is a simple way to catch Pokemon and spin Pokestops, and it can work with your phone's screen locked and your phone in your bag or pocket. It has just one button, which will light up blue when you are near to a Pokestop. Press it, and the light will flash in a rainbow of colours to let you know that you have collected the items.

When you are near a Pokemon, it will light up green, and then flash white as the device attempts to catch it. If the catch is successful, the light will blink multiple colours; if not, it will turn red and the Pokemon will flee.

However, because the device only throws one standard Pokeball at each Pokemon, I found that my catch rate was quite low, at about 30 per cent.

Some fans online have worked out that the device catch rates are in line with regular app usage, but if you are out hunting rarities such as a Chansey or Lapras, it would be best to catch the Pokemon manually.

My favourite part about the Pokemon Go Plus was that it allowed me to hatch my eggs much, much faster than before. Normally, the app has to be open in order to register distance travelled, which is an inconvenience as well as a battery drain.

With the Plus, I was racking up kilometres even with my phone in my pocket. My partner and I even went for a run with our Pokemon Go Pluses, and managed to catch a nice clutch of Pokemon and hatch several eggs by the time we were done.

That being said, Apple Watch users will probably want to hold off on the Plus, as Niantic has said that an Apple Watch-compatible version of the game will be available before the end of the year.

For those of us without an Apple Watch though, the Pokemon Go Plus is one way to make playing the game a lot easier.

• Verdict: While the device does have its fair share of problems, it does make playing Pokemon Go a lot more convenient.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 05, 2016, with the headline 'For more Pokemon Go, add the Plus '. Print Edition | Subscribe