Is the Pokémon Go Plus worth it?

You can explore the world of Pokémon Go for free if you have a smartphone, but if you really want to take this game to the next level you can buy a $35 wrist button. At least, that's what Niantic and Nintendo want you to think when you see Pokémon Go Plus on the shelf. This inexpensive little gadget is all about keeping you in the game even when your phone isn't in your hand, by buzzing your wrist when there's something nearby for you to do in the game.

If being tethered to Pokémon Go without looking at your screen is an appealing idea for you, there's a lot to like about this simple little accessory. Here's how to get the most out of the experience.

Walking with Pokémon Go Plus

Pokemon Go

The biggest benefit to having Pokémon Go Plus on your wrist is not needing to have your phone in your hand or carefully positioned in a pocket while you walk around. Walking in Pokémon Go powers incubators for hatching eggs, and encourages your designated Pokémon Buddy to give you extra Pokémon Candy the more you walk. It's a huge part of the game, and keeping your screen on while you do so is kind of tedious. Pokémon Go Plus lets you walk with your screen completely off and in your pocket. As long as that wristband is connected to your phone, every step you take is recorded in the game. This means you get those kilometers in much faster than you normally would, because it's always paying attention to how far you've walked.

You can really take advantage of Pokémon Go Plus by being just a little more active every day. Anything from a casual walk through a grocery store to a sprint down the street in hopes of catching your bus across town gets counted by Pokémon Go Plus. It's fantastic encouragement to go for a walk during your lunch break or even just park further away the next time you're at the store. It all adds up quick when you don't have to fire up the Pokémon Go app to capture those steps, which means more eggs hatched and more candy received!

Checking in at Pokéstops

Pokemon Go Plus

You'll get a small vibration on your wrist and a flashing blue light in the center of the wristband every time you're near a Pokéstop that's ready to be spun. Instead of pulling your phone out and checking the app, you just tap the button on your wrist and it will check in for you. This works whether you're walking down the street or stopped at an intersection with a Pokéstop nearby, and every time the Pokéstop recharges you're notified to check in again. When you finally do check your phone, you'll see all of the items you received in your Journal and in your Inventory.

One weird note with Pokéstops through Pokémon Go Plus: checking in with the button doesn't always turn the stop purple. This doesn't mean you can check in twice — we tried repeatedly — but it is something worth keeping in mind as you switch between playing with just the wristband and playing on your phone.

Catching all the Pokémon

A green or yellow light flash on your wrist means there's a Pokémon nearby for you to catch. Green flashes mean it's a Pokémon you've encountered before, and yellow means it's a Pokémon not currently in your Pokédex. Before you tap that button and try to catch yourself a Pokémon using nothing but your wrist, there are a few things to consider.

Pokémon Go Plus will only ever throw a single standard red and white Pokéball on your behalf. If the Pokémon breaks free of that single standard Pokéball, it breaks free immediately and flees. You don't get another shot to catch that Pokémon, it's gone. This is particularly troubling when you can't actually see what you're going to be catching, so your best bet is to only use Pokémon Go Plus to catch something if you have absolutely no plans of otherwise stopping to catch it. You should probably always avoid trying to capture something that flashes yellow on your Pokémon Go Plus, especially once you reach level 20 or higher in the game.

Overall having Pokémon Go Plus on you can be handy, and it's hard to argue with the price, but it's important to figure out how to fit it into your particular style of gameplay before you go for a jog with it on.