The Poké Ball Plus, announced at The Pokémon Company's big conference in May 2018, is a new peripheral that acts not only as a Go Plus for Pokémon Go, or a Pokéwalker for Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee, but a device that adds a range of other benefits, too.
The Pokémon Go Plus, meanwhile, has been selling out more or less since launch, but now stock levels are evening out, you're probably wondering - what do these two accessories actually do?
The Go Plus essentially allows you to play with your screen off - or if you want the maximum amount of control, while using it - allowing you to catch creatures, spin stops and hatch eggs much faster than you would usually. The Poké Ball Plus is a bit more complex than that, acting as an optional controller as well as an accessory - we explain everything we know below!
What is the Poké Ball Plus and how does it work?
The Poké Ball Plus still hasn't been completely explained - although there's plenty we do know already.
We know it'll function like a Pokémon Go Plus - more on that itself below - when connected to Pokémon Go, allowing you to do all the same things like catch Pokémon and spin stops as you go.
As well as that, we know it'll have Pokéwalker-style functions for your Pokémon from Let's Go Pikachu and Let's Go Eevee. You can put them "in" the Poké Ball Plus and, by tracking your steps as you walk around with it, it'll unlock certain unspecified benefits for you or your Pokémon in-game. Junichi Masuda, head of Let's Go developer Game Freak, also confirmed to us that there will be some different, special features.
"One cool thing if you put your partner Pokémon - so maybe your Pikachu - inside of it, I think maybe there's some extra things that makes it feel as though the Pokémon is really inside the ball... for example if you shake it, it'll actually sounds like it's in there, so things like that - and also some things we haven't revealed, that are cool that affect the gameplay if you walk around with it," he said.
We weren't allowed to touch it out in Japan but, rest assured, were told it felt very nice. It has both a wrist strap and a smaller hoop for you to hook a finger through to make sure it's secure in your hand - and so no kids go throwing it through the TV.
What is the Pokémon Go Plus?
The Pokémon Go Plus is a peripheral for Pokémon Go which can be worn either on the provided bracelet band, or as a pin on your clothes.
Shaped like a combination of a Poké Ball and the Google Maps pin - because, you know, Pokémon Go is essentially Poké Balls plus maps - it's around the size of a large smartwatch, although of course only provides functionality when used with the Pokémon Go app.
The main point of the Pokémon Go Plus is to enable you to enjoy the game - or if you're anything like us at times, compulsively obsess over the game - without having to use your phone.
It connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth, and will notify you of a nearby PokéStop or wild Pokémon with a vibration and blinking LED.
The greatest benefit, really, is the fact that you can do these things without draining your phone's battery life at quite the same rate as doing so normally - helpful since battery drain in Pokémon Go is a recognised issue.
That is, unfortunately, mitigated somewhat by the fact that it'll be using your phone's Bluetooth, but it's still a bit of an energy saver.
Pokémon Go Plus - LED meanings, how to pair and put it to use
Nintendo being Nintendo, things aren't always completely obvious when using the Pokémon Go Plus.
How to set up the device:
- How to pair Bluetooth - to connect the Pokémon Go Plus with Bluetooth and start using it, first make sure Bluetooth is, of course, switched on on your mobile. Then pull the plastic tab out the side of the Pokémon Go Plus and head to the Pokémon Go app, select Settings in the top-right of the menu page, and select Pokémon Go Plus from there.
- How to switch the Pokémon Go Plus to a new phone - To switch devices, you'll need to unpair the Plus from the current one, before pairing again (as per the steps above) with the new one. Head to your device's settings first, and unpair the Plus from there. Then, on the Pokémon Go Plus, hold down the central function button for five seconds, until the LED itself turns blue. If it flashes, instead of being a solid blue, let go of the button and try again. Then, within 10 seconds of the LED turning a solid blue, hold the button down again for another five seconds. The Pokémon Go Plus will vibrate when it's been successfully unpaired.
- How to replace the Pokémon Go Plus battery - you'll need a small, cross-head screwdriver to replace the battery. Remove the single screw on the back, place it somewhere safe, and remove the battery. The new battery can then be slid in fairly easily, but make sure the positive side (with the + symbol) is facing up.
- How to attach the Pokémon Go Plus to the wristband - Surprisingly, you'll need that screwdriver again if you want to attach the Plus to the wristband, or remove it to reattach the clip. That's because you have to physically unscrew the battery cover (as per the advice above) and then attach it to the case which is already stuck to the wristband, screwing it back on from there.
How to use the device. If there's any confusion, the end of each interaction will also give you a push notification with the result (whether a creature was caught or not, you're out of Balls, and so on.)
- LED flashes blue with three pairs of vibrations - You've encountered a Pokéstop: press the button to collect items and XP.
- LED flashes green and vibrates three long times - You've found a wild Pokémon you've already encountered: press the button to throw a Pokéball if you haven't caught one before. It'll then pulse white and vibrate up to three times, followed by rainbow colours for a success, or red if it's failed.
- LED flashes yellow and vibrates with three uneven pulses - A wild Pokémon that you haven't caught before has been encountered: press the button to throw a Pokéball, though if we were you, stop and open the app and use a Berry and an Ultra Ball to be sure. If you use the Plus, it'll pulse white and vibrate up to three times, followed by rainbow colours for a success, or red if it's failed.
- LED turns red and vibrates slowly - You are out of Balls to catch a creature, your inventory is full at a stop, or the Pokémon Go Plus is having connection issues. Look at the push notification for more details, or be prepared for it to disconnect shortly. If it's the latter, try re-pairing it with the steps above, and make sure your device is connected to both the internet and Bluetooth.
Want more help with Pokémon Go? As well as our Pokémon Go tips, tricks and guides page, you can look up the Gen 2 Pokédex on how to catch the most recent creatures, including those requiring Special Items such as the Dragon Scale. We also explain the recent Gym rework, how to get PokéCoins, Raids, Raid Battles, and Raid Bosses, and what we know about the addition of promo codes. Elsewhere, read about Eevee evolutions, Egg hatching distance charts, best Pokémon tier lists, best moves and movesets and the XP chart. Plus, sice their release you can read everything we know about how to catch Legendary Pokémon like Articuno and Lugia, and all the others that are expected to be on their way.
Other things to know about using Pokémon Go Plus
There are a few quirks worth knowing about to make the most out of your Go Plus:
Pokémon Go Plus will only use standard Poké Balls, not Great or Ultra Balls. Thankfully this is the most common type from Stops (and conveniently, the only one on sale from the Shop) so you should be able to keep playing most of the time. It helps if you are able to sit in a location at once (say at work) next to a Stop so you can refill your stock on a semi-regular basis.
You only get one shot at catching a Pokémon. If your thrown Pokéball fails, that's it, the Pokémon will flee instantly and you won't get another chance to catch it. If you want, keep your phone open and at hand to check what's actually appeared, or look at the device in case it's a yellow light to tell you it's something new.
Ideally you want to balance knowing when to stop and use better Balls and Berries for things you want to definitely catch, versus simply hoovering everything up in your path without looking at the screen, thus giving you an easy supply of Candy and XP (remember failing to catch anything gives you 25 XP anyway - which adds up if you have the device on you at all times).
Finally, Pokemon Go will track steps for both hatching eggs and the new Buddy system. So even if you don't decide to catch or spin anything, this will come in useful, especially if you want to 'play' the game while out running.