Best smartphone for PokemonGO: 5 top picks

Categories smart choices

Flagships of the major manufacturers can easily handle all smartphone games without any trouble. Those are performance phones built to be top of the class, achievers respected by everyone. Moneywise they can also work out as much as 3 decent slightly less powerful smart devices. The question is – Do you need a flagship to get an enjoyable PokemonGO experience? Absolutely not! If you bear with me for a few more minutes you will know which criteria to look at and what my best recommended phones are for the job and your buck.

 

What are the technical requirements for a best phone for PokemonGO?

Let’s first look at the minimum requirements to run PokemonGo on your mobile device; table below sums it all up.

Official technical requirements for PokemonGo
  Android 4.4+ or iOS 8+ (iPhone 5 and later)
  Rooted or Jailbroken devices are not supported
  Preferred resolution of 1280×720 pixels
  Strong internet connection (Wi-Fi, 3G or 4G)
  GPS and Location Services

Table1. PokemonGO technical requirements

It might sound like a surprise to some, but PokemonGO is not compatible with all modern day smartphones. Or should I say Windows phones are not compatible with all modern day applications (?).

Yes, Pokemon Go is still not available on Windows and there is no clear timeline on when or whether at all it will become available. Having that in mind any Windows software running phone is a firm NO if you intend to dedicate your time to this glorious game. Sorry Microsoft, I do not choose you.

While PokemonGO should have no problem running on Android and Apple OS, you still need to make sure that the phone you intend to purchase does not have an iOS or Android version capped at iOS7 (pre iPhone 5 devices) or Android 4.4 Jelly Bean. Also bear in mind that you will not be able to launch the game if your device is rooted (Android) or Jailbroken (iOS). I have stopped Jailbreaking my iPhones a long time ago and even though it’s not as popular as it once used to be, some hardcore hack0rz or enthusiast do have their smartphones pimped up. If you fall within this category – either restore your device to factory settings or find an even more sophisticated way to overcome this restriction.

Game also requires location services and steady mobile data (or WIFI) connection available and enabled on your device. And yes, you can still find phones which will be missing one of these features. Double check if you are looking at really cheap options.

 

What are the User Experience requirements for a best phone for PokemonGO?

PokemonGO success is partially based on the game being “something new”. Yes, it is common knowledge that the whole infrastructure and framework was acquired from Ingress, another game by Niantic, but it’s actually Pokemon franchise which made this concept go viral. It is different from what world has seen so far and it is exactly why a good device for PokemonGO has slightly different requirements from those a normal game phone has.  Once you made sure the phones you are looking at fulfil all minimum tech requirements it is time to think of the properties which will make the experience enjoyable. There are several phone specs to consider carefully when choosing the right phone for PokemonGO, but the absolute essentials are:

  • Battery Life

  • Screen properties

  • RAM

 

Battery Life

This is probably NO1 requirement on the list for a good Pokemon go phone. With location services and internet data being used in the game it will suck the juice out of your phone at a colossal rate so you need to make sure you have a decent battery which will not betray you when that wild Charizard appears next to you.

Now let me clear this out – greater battery capacity does not always mean better usage time. Even though there is a high correlation, it also depends how much juice processors are using and what battery saving options your phone has. Always look at video playback and talk times as indicators of how efficiently the phone is using battery energy. Of course when you come across phone which has over 4000mAh battery, you know you can rely on it.

Regardless, you always have an option to go for that extra juice from Powerbank or Juicepack. I will put some links to the best external batteries available on the market below.

 

Screen

Unless your home is a Pokestop which gets lures every thirty minutes you will have to get outside to catch and level up your Pokemon. Thus your screen needs to have good anti-glare properties and bright screen in order to be able to comfortably feed those cute little creatures with balls.

The property you want to look at is Display Contrast Ratio or simply CR. It shows the perceived brightness contrast or in other words how bright and vivid the screen appears compared to the light it is being exposed to. Higher ratio indicates higher brightness. Often in phone specifications you get two numbers for CR – nominal (normal light) and sunlight (when screen is exposed to direct sunlight). Even though in most cases higher contrast ratio is better, do not get confused when you come across “nominal CR: Infinite”. It does not necessarily mean that the display is better. Value infinite is obtained by having 0 IRE black signal – and even though calculation gives you a value of infinity – it mostly is done for marketing reasons.

Screen resolution is another common property often found on spec labels. It however does not play a role as significant as others when choosing a phone suitable for playing Pokemon Go. Any new smartphone today will have a screen resolution good enough to play the game, however if you want to maximize gameplay satisfaction go for higher res and you will not regret those few extra bucks spent on a better screen. Oh and the screen size. In order to properly enjoy the game, please do not go anywhere below 4” screen. You want to enjoy the game and make your throws as precise as possible – why waste your time and Pokeballs. Refer to a below table of minimum resolution for a screen size for a good playing experience.

Recommended resolution for various screen sizes:

Size Resolution
4.0” 800×400
4.3” 960×540
4.7” 1280×800
5.0” 1280×800
>5” 1920×1080

Table2. Recommended resolution for various screen sizes

 

RAM

RAM (or Random-access Memory) is something you need to make sure your phone has enough of. The more RAM a device has, more logical operations it can perform at a time (read more about RAM here). And you certainly do not want your balls flying left and right only because your smartphone could not compile your finger movements on the screen. I would recommend not going for anything below 1GB of RAM.

Now that you know what you need in a phone to tell a suitable one from a waste of money, let’s have a look at the best options for your criteria.

 

5.OUKITEL K4000 Pro

Oukitel K4000 Pro best phone for PokemonGO

$125.99

Battery. Battery! Battery! Yes, it has a 4600mAh energy source – equivalent of almost three batteries you’d find in an iPhone. How handy! I often ask myself why major phone manufacturers keep spending all this money in increasing processor speed or adding more ram instead of investing in a bigger battery! Some actually manage to both.

I know it does not qualify for the screen properties we’ve covered earlier, but the amount of juice this phone has within itself will be enough to outlast most of your rivals on a pokehunt. Even if they had a backup phone in their pocket.

One thing that cannot go unnoticed is the bulkiness of this device. Due to the battery size it weighs 250 grams and is rather chunky. That’s might sound on the big side and for a very good reason, but it actually helps for stability of the grip. I have to admit it feels comfortable in hand. It also has a thick 1mm screen glass for durability. It is hammer-nails-in-wood durable. Really! (see a youtube video below).

Device runs on Android 5.0 Lollipop and is available for upgrade so you won’t have any problems with it for a good while. And the best part of it? Price. This phone less than $125. I believe this is as far as one can get for this price.

 

The promised video of hammering nails with a K4000 Pro↓

 

4.LG G4

LG G4 best smartphone for PokemonGO

$278.90

This little gem represents oldskool flagship generation. Removable battery? Expandable memory? I bet you’d struggle to find a flagship with these features released in 2015 other than LG G4 and it’s not necessarily a drawback.

Most important criteria for us – battery and screen – qualify for a Pokemon Go phone without doubt.

G4 has a 3000mAh battery, which will give you good hours, but the best part about it is the battery being replaceable. If it wears out, changing it will be as easy as 1-2-3.

This LG device is equipped with a 5.5” 2560x1440px display. Not just any display – IPS LCD with 538ppi. Wondering how it handles catching Pokemon outside? 2.31 sunlight contrast ratio is not the best you can get out there. But it sure is best you can get for under $300.

Oh one more about the grip. Go for the leather back cover, not only it looks superior, it feels very comfy.

 

3.iPHONE SE

iPhone SE best phone for PokemonGO

$425.00

Yes, an Apple product. Not creative you might say. Perhaps, but this little guy is equipped with the same processor, graphics and many other insides from iPhone 6s. Only the price is different. It has even longer battery life and even though screen’s nominal CR is only 804:1, in the sunlight this little beast will not disappoint you. It’s a retina display and that’s says it all. The only rivals in this department are other – more expensive – iPhones.

If you are ok with a 4” screen and still want a trendy phone, go for iPhone SE. 4 inch screen might appear small nowadays, but iPhone 5/5s design was so successful and loved by users that Apple decided to add another phone in the same frame to their range. Haters gonna hate, even I myself no being an Apple fan have to admit it’s true. The SE is perfect for the Pokemon job and much more.

 

2.SAMSUNG GALAXY S6 Edge+

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus Best phone for PokemonGO

$420.24

This Samsung product can be categorized as “on the big side”. 5.7 inch display is great, but not only size matters, right? Galaxy S6 Edge+ boasts more having than just a massive screen. The screen is super bright (thanks to the SuperAMOLED panel it features), impressive 2560x1440px resolution and density of 518ppi. So indeed it looks great on paper. In reality it does perform for the specs. GSMArena testers have found this smart phone having the second brightest screen ever in sunlight. This screen has properties of a decent LCD (!).

3000mAh battery also provides very good endurance.  In fact it not only has over 30hours talk time, but is also capable of nearly 14 hours of video playback. That’s a statement! Forget carrying charging cable or looking for a power source. This battery can take you anywhere.

On the down side, this phone has only average speakers and the body is rather slippery and not really the one that sticks to a hand. This means you need to include the costs of buying a good phone case if you decide to go for S6 Edge Plus.

 

1.ONEPLUS 2

OnePlus 2 best phone for PokemonGO

$276.00

Personally I love OnePlus products, their innovative nature and price-to-value ratio is absolutely amazing, wins my heart every time. Of course latest Android versions supported; equipped with a huge 5.5” screen with decent aspect ratio, 3300mAh  battery and a satisfying 2.1:1 contrast ratio when exposed to direct sunlight. It is not the latest model in the line, but it is certainly fit for the job. Wait! it gets even better.

Technical specs of this phone are more than enough for playing the PokemonGO game, but OnePlus team went an extra mile with their Android software modifications. It gives user even more control over their smartphone by allowing to select from numerous battery saving modes and even precision level of location services. Imagine the extended battery life possibilities!

All in all this is a great design, top performance device which will make your PokemonGO experience unforgettable.

 

Need more juice?

These additional energy sources really come in handy. You won’t be using them every day, but when the need actually comes you will thank your younger self for making this wise decision of purchasing one.

Here is a few that I think provide best value for money and have the best customer reviews:

  • BlitzWolf Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 Power Bank

    BlitzWolfQuick Charge best power bank for PokemonGO

$19.00

In my opinion, best value for money. 10,400mAh charge, takes less than 3 hours to fully charge, fits in your pocket and has a minimalistic design. All you can ask from a powerbank.
Bear in mind that it only comes with one output port, so if you are going to charge more than one device at a time, it might not be the best option for you.

  • Mophie juicepack for iPhone

Mophie Juicapack for iphone 6/6s best powerbank for PokemonGO

$52.99

I have used their products myself. This solution by mophie serves as an additional battery and as a phone protective case. With this you will double your iPhone’s lifetime.
I have to admit, having this external battery on your phones, makes it bulky, but recent releases look sleek and this all comes as one – no need to carry cables in your pocket.

  • S Legit Wooden Power Bank

S Legit power bank

$17.99

I love this power bank mostly for it’s design. Don’t get me wrong, it’s technical abilities won’t disappoint you. 4,000mAh will give you a good 2-3 charges on most devices and that’s decent. The only part of this product where they had to sacrifice technology for design is charging time. It takes slightly longer to fully charge the bank, but you only have to do this once a week at best. I am happy to add some more trendy in my life for a tiny sacrifice as this.

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