Oct 4 2016, 7:09 PM PDT
After weeks of hype, rumor and the occasional corporate miscommunication, most of our burning questions about the new Pokémon Go Plus wearable have been settled, but one open question still remaining is just how long of a run players can actually expect to get out of the Plus before having to replace its non-rechargeable battery.
No doubt for reasons of simplicity (and therefore cost savings), Nintendo elected to power the Go Plus with a CR2032 lithium coin-cell. While not everybody is pleased with this news, It's an understandable decision; incorporating a rechargeable battery brings with it the need for an extra external connector and a battery management chip, each of which would add cost and complexity to the design. Furthermore, the energy-dense lithium-polymer flat packs typically used in mobile devices have garnered a bit of a bad reputation recently, with reports of exploding mobile phones appearing with worrying frequency. For a device that doesn't need much power to begin with, it does seem sensible to forgo the hassle of an internal rechargeable battery in favor of something straightforward and user-replaceable.
The CR2032 included with the Pokémon Go Plus is a common type often found in calculators and watches. It's available virtually anywhere that sells batteries, doesn't cost much, and has never been caught exploding in anybody's pocket (in fact, even a short circuit — a potentially catastrophic situation for a typical LiPo cell — won't do much more than make the cell warm). Other than being a swallowing hazard, these cells are really quite user-friendly. However, this comes at a cost, namely that they don't hold all that much juice... which brings us back to the question at hand: how long can we expect the Go Plus's battery last?
The manual included with the device claims a life expectancy of "approx. 100 days". This would be quite a decent figure if it turned out to be true, but as the manual itself cautions, real world results are going to depend heavily on how one actually uses the device. A casual player who uses the Plus to hit a few Pokéstops on their way to class will no doubt have a much different experience in terms of battery life compared to a hardcore Pokémon Trainer playing for hours every day.
As a matter of fact, it seems some of those in the latter category are already running into trouble. One Reddit user reported that their Plus's battery was exhausted past the point of usefulness in less than two weeks, after they took the device on a road trip and occasionally left it running overnight to rack up kilometers from GPS drift. It's probably safe to say that this isn't what Nintendo imagined as an average use case for the product, but it's a concerning data point. A few other users have reported their batteries giving out around the 2-week mark as well.
Of course it's too early to start drawing any conclusions. We have yet to see the results from those on the more casual side of the spectrum (that is to say, their batteries haven't had time to die yet). It's also hard to know whether the results we have seen are a fluke (perhaps Nintendo bought a faulty batch of batteries) or a sign that heavy Pokémon Go Plus users will need to stock up on batteries. Only time will tell...
Sep 29 2016, 11:44 PM PDT
Two weeks after its official launch (and having been sold-out everywhere most of the time since then), the Pokémon Go Plus quietly went up for sale on Pokemoncenter.com, the official online store of Pokémon Company International. Minutes later, it was sold out there too.
The product has since disappeared from the home page and search listings on the site, though it can still be accessed directly. In the mean time, the other four online launch retailers for the US — Amazon, Walmart, GameStop and Toys "R" Us — continue to show the product as unavailable. Online scalpers, some proudly displaying photos of full cases of the product, continue to list Pokémon Go Plus units on Ebay and the Amazon marketplace for prices up to and in excess of $100.
We will be adding Pokémon Center to our stock tracker shortly; stay tuned!
Sep 17 2016, 5:11 PM PDT
After weeks of mixed messages, Nintendo have finally clarified that the Pokémon Go Plus wearable does track distance traveled even while the user's phone is locked or the app is in the background, allowing players to hatch Pokémon eggs and accumulate candies through the game's new "Buddy Pokémon" feature.
As of its initial release announcement, there was much confusion over whether using the device would allow players to rack up credit for kilometers walked without having to keep their phone on and the screen constantly unlocked. Once users started receiving and using the product, it was widely reported that it did do just that; however, the product's packaging and marketing seemed to suggest otherwise. In particular, the launch announcement on the Nintendo Australia website stated outright: "Pokémon GO does not track distance walked when running in the background." This discrepancy had many prospective buyers confused and a few worried, as developer Niantic, Inc. had already demonstrated that they weren't above cutting out existing functionality, as in the infamous case of the disappearing tracker feature.
However, it seems that the matter has now been settled once and for all. Yesterday, Nintendo amended its statement with a correction: "Even while Pokémon GO is operating in the background, distance walked is applied towards hatching eggs and Candy earned for Buddy Pokémon."
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