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How to conserve battery while playing Pokémon Go

Don't lose out on that Jigglypuff just because your battery died

Pokémon Go in action Credit: / Kyle Looney

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If Pokémon Go doesn't cause our entire species to willingly walk itself into the ocean sometime in the next few weeks, we'll probably keep hearing horror stories about players losing out on rare catches due to drained batteries.

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In the days following the game's release, developer Niantic Labs stated that it's "working on a solution" for the heavy battery drainage. Although I appreciate the effort, I don't think there's much that can be tinkered with on the backend that will alleviate the issue. Pokémon Go is constantly pulling mobile data and geolocating, all while your smartphone's display is given nary a rest.

Pokémon Go is constantly pulling mobile data and geolocating.

That said, short of buying a charger (which I'll discuss below), there's a number of steps you can take to get the most out of your charge so you don't wind up sweating it out at 1%.

Go all-in and buy a portable charger

So it's come to this.

If portability is your top priority, you'll want to stick with lower-capacity chargers. Consider the Anker PowerCore+ mini.

First, take a few moments to come to terms with the fact that you—an ostensibly well-adjusted adult—are about to buy a portable charger so you can maximize the time you spend catching virtual pocket monsters that go by such names as "Mr. Mime" and "Squirtle." Sure, you might justify the expenditure for business trips and other important grown-up-related things, but we all know the truth: You really want to capture a cuddly pink creature that the world has decided to call "Wigglytuff."

Relax. We're here for you.

You're probably not going to get much more than a single charge out of this 3350 mAh, bite-sized battery booster, but its lipstick-sized build can nestle comfortably into the skinniest of skinny jeans and the tiniest of bags. It's one of the best-selling chargers on Amazon for a reason, and at $11, it won't hit your wallet the way Hyper Beam hits your Clefairy.

If power trumps portability on your priority list, you might want to look into something with a little more oomph. After all, it's hard to be the very best like no one ever was without charging your iPhone on the go three times in one day.

For several charges worth of juice, the best-selling Anker PowerCore 20100 is one of the safest bets around. With a capacity of 20000 mAh, Anker asserts that the PowerCore 20100 is capable of providing five to seven charges for most iPhones and Samsung Galaxies. It's pricier than the PowerCore+ mini and nowhere near as portable, but this is the big leagues, and your Drowzee's not gonna evolve itself.

Just look at it like an in-app purchase at the Pokéshop, except instead of adorable gold Pokécoins, it's your actual, hard-earned money. Fun times!

Turn off augmented reality

This one hurts, but it's one of the easiest ways to minimize battery drainage.

When you encounter a wild Pokémon, take note of the "AR" switch located in the top right corner of the user interface. Toggling this switch determines whether or not wild Pokémon show up in your "real life" camera view or in a virtual background within the game's digital landscape. An added benefit of having the AR turned off is that, in many cases, the Pokémon are actually easier to capture since they're not being jostled as you move your phone around in the heat of the moment.

Pokémon Go AR Switch
Credit: Niantic Labs

There's something kind of sad about wild Pokémon appearing in their humdrum digital environments and not your living room, but switching AR off is one of the most effective ways to limit battery usage.

The downside to this, of course, is the loss of one of the most novel aspects of Pokémon Go. Personally, I refuse to rob myself of the simple joys that accompany, say, watching a Psyduck jump out of my toilet, or watching a Grimer appear behind a bunch of dumpsters. For hardcore Pokémon Masters, however, there are no simple joys—just the cold, bitter race to the top.

Regulate your display's brightness

I know, I know—this one's kind of obvious. But you'd be surprised at how many people forget to monitor the brightness of their smartphone display, especially when adaptive brightness software is left to its own devices.

Familiarize yourself with how aggressive your phone brightens and dims its display.

Familiarize yourself with how aggressive your phone brightens and dims its display due to ambient light, and if you find it cranking up your brightness, consider turning off the automatic regulation and adjust it manually as needed.

Turn on the game's "Battery Saver" mode

Buried in Pokémon Go's settings menu is an option to toggle something called "Battery Saver" on and off. Like most of the elements of the game, Niantic Labs doesn't offer a straightforward explanation what this actually does.

Pokémon Go Battery Saver Setting
Credit: Niantic Labs

"Battery Saver" can be found in the game's settings menu.

It turns out that Battery Saver only does one thing, but the one thing it does might end up significantly extending the life of your phone while you're out hunting Abras.

When the mode's initiated, the game will automatically disable the display when you lower your smartphone, but it won't stop tracking your steps and notifying you of nearby Pokémon in the process.

It might also encourage you to, you know, look at the world in front of you from time to time, which is a good way not to get flattened by a city bus because you decided that the Magikarp in front of you was worth wandering into a crosswalk for.

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