How to save your battery and reduce data charges from Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go has proved more popular than fresh air. As we predicted when the game was first announced, it has proven to have a healthy appetite when it comes to your smartphone’s battery and carrier’s data charges. This might sound like scaremongering but don’t forgot the $5,000 bill for one Olympic athlete.

It’s all turned out alright for Mr Uchimura, but with all this in mind it’s probably worth understanding how Pokemon Go works and Niantic’s history to save yourself from the same fate and get the most out of your play sessions.

In-Grass Type

Whilst Pokemon GO has got us all out of the house, a rare feat for a videogame – not all of the outside is equal. This can largely be levelled at how the core game has been built upon the bare bones of Niantic’s previous offering, Ingress. If you’ve played Pokemon GO, in a way you’ve played Ingress. Key landmarks in Pokemon GO are largely based on the nodes which players sought to control in Ingress.

With Ingress’ players enjoying a relatively niche game, the nodes which existed in Ingress are largely in areas of which aspirational professionals visited. A study by the Urban Institute has revealed that in Washington DC (US), in majority white and wealthy areas there are 55 portals versus 19 in majority black and deprived neighbourhoods. Transferring this data to Pokemon GO means if you’re looking for Pokemon, visit areas with Millennials and higher population, in London this means Shoreditch.

It doesn’t have quite the data requirements we predicted, but server requests will slow down the game and potentially ruin the experience Pokemon GO trainers. So understanding the core mechanics of Ingress, come Pokemon GO will hopefully ensure that players will plan their catching sessions better. The game, which is overlaid on Google maps, utilises area classification and ties these to Pokemon types. Put simply, don’t go looking for a Fire type at the beach.

Pokemon tracking was removed but may be returning. With supporting sites like Pokemon Vision issued a cease-and-dismiss, understanding how area matching applies to Pokemon types is another way to save yourself a wasted journey, with thanks to Ranked Boost.

Figure: Spawning locations by type (1)

Type Cities Educational Farm Land Grassy Areas Hospitals Industrial Landmarks Nature Night Time Parks Residential Sports Facilities Water Areas Wetlands
Bug X X X
Dragon X X
Electric X X
Fighting X
Fire X X X
Ghost X X
Grass X X X
Ground X X
Ice X X
Normal X X
Poison X X
Psychic X X
Rock X X
Water X X X


Pika-chewing through battery

With the app burning around 30% of battery with each hour of use; anything you can do to limit the power consumption should be explored. Quartz put together a great guide, but in summary there’s features in-game which do reduce battery use. Most obviously and unsurprisingly the Battery Saver functions can be half way down the settings. Although previously expunged the features has now returned to iOS devices. Another setting to switch off is the music and sounds effects, it’s not going to alter gameplay and let’s be honest you where only drawing attention to yourself!

Whilst the Augmented Reality (AR) is really cool, it’s unnecessary and requires power to operate the camera. Switch it off. This has the added benefit of making the gameplay easier to actually “Catch ‘Em All”. As the AR space grows, the opportunity for Niantic to interface with more virtual infrastructure means Pokemon Go “Gold and Silver” may make the feature a necessity, but at the moment it’s just another drain on your precious battery.

Outside of the App, battery saver features native to the device should be switched on, I doubt Ash Ketchum needed to check his emails and get distracted from his task of being a Pokemon Master. WiFi connectivity does significantly improve the game but this and other networking capabilities like Bluetooth will use battery searching for devices, unless you can connect to WiFi it doesn’t need to be on. Lastly, turning screen brightness down also prolongs battery life.

Now, go out there and “Catch ‘Em All”!


For all content unless stated otherwise, is the content creator and should be credited as such.

(1) Data presented in the figure titled XX is sourced from Ranked Boost article titled Pokemon Go Spawning Locations

Please contact squareblind (at) email (dot) com if you a copyright holder and feel we have violated your ownership and wish content to be credited or removed.


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