You might have heard that Pokémon GO, the augmented reality mobile game from Nintendo and developer Niantic Labs, has finally rolled out for iOS and Android and will soon be available in full for select audiences.
Now, for a slightly less sarcastic remark: the game, despite having "GO" in its name, might be best played while not on the go, since it utterly kills a smartphone's battery life.
This shouldn't be a big surprise to anyone who knows about the current state of mobile devices. As time progresses, more emphasis has been placed on design and available applications rather than the battery life and efficiency needed to handle all the new stuff with which modern phones have become increasingly stuffed.
However, under normal circumstances, this wouldn't be a big deal, as most mobile games don't need much player involvement and can be turned off when not needed. However, Pokémon GO doesn't follow that concept, and a device's battery life suffers in a big way because of it.
The game uses your phone's camera and sensors, as well as location-based algorithms to place Pokémon in real-world locations such as the middle of a street or in a police station. That way, as you travel to landmarks and random locations in your city as part of your daily routine, you catch various Pokémon as they show up and then train and battle them at gyms.
While this may indeed be fun for players who finally get to live out their dream of being real-life Pokemon trainers, it is a nightmare for a smartphone's battery, which has now become tasked with powering the screen, camera, the app, GPS and everything else the player might need to get the true "Pokemon trainer experience."
Man, Pokemon Go drains my battery so much D: gotta wait til tomorrow to claim that gym near my house though oho :D
— Vickie (aka micvic) (@tsurara) July 6, 2016
#PokemonGO - chewing up the battery and I don't think I want to know how much data it's downloading. But so much fun when out and about!! — Tess (@filmgirl152) July 6, 2016
Pokemon Go was released here in NZ. Just ran my battery flat walking the streets at night. This is gonna be dangerous. — Knownot (@iAmKnownot) July 6, 2016
Never seen a game drain battery like Pokemon Go. Even my 6s loses 10% in 20 minutes - WITH the charger connected! — ℃améron Davis (@Gazunta) July 6, 2016
Interestingly enough, short battery life is a "known issue." So much so that Niantic has it listed on the game's official page and has already revealed that it's working on a solution for the problem (other than the already-present battery saver option in the game's settings).
While Niantic works on a definitive solution, the Pokémon Go Database has a few solutions for conserving battery life of its own, such as adjusting the screen brightness, minimizing in-game actions and turning the sound off. With that said, at least two entities stand to gain quite a bit from all this: Niantic and Nintendo themselves.
Most important accessory for #PokemonGO. A battery pack. pic.twitter.com/YFIqcvEKvP — DJ Ravine (@DJRavine) July 6, 2016
While the Pokémon GO Plus will no doubt reduce power consumption by a fair margin (giving players more incentive to buy the optional device), how cool would it be if Niantic and Nintendo made Pokéball-shaped portable chargers that you could strap onto your belt and use when needed?