Pokémania is sweeping the nation, but how much is the game going to cost you? Pokémon GO may be free to play, but it uses the internet to keep track of your progress and download maps – so if you’re on a limited data plan, you’re probably concerned about going over your allowance in search of an elusive Eevee.
Given its popularity, it may surprise some people to discover that Pokémon GO is free – and it's even pretty easy-going when it comes to the dreaded in-app purchases. While there are things you can buy, they're not essential.
That said, it’s already common knowledge that the game is pretty heavy on battery usage – but is it the same story when it comes to data?
The game itself doesn’t really give you any information on this, which meant there was only one thing to do – go Pokémon hunting in the name of science and public service!
We conducted a one-hour Pokémon hunt using an iPhone 6, with Wi-Fi turned off to ensure mobile data was being used. The phone’s power saving settings weren’t enabled – however, the in-game 'Battery Saving' option was enabled. This was something we’d always recommend – but as of the game's latest update, this feature has been removed.
Even so, it’s unlikely to have had any impact on data usage. The feature simply turned the screen off when your phone was inverted, but still alerted you to nearby Pokémon. This meant you could safely walk between Pokéstops without endangering yourself in traffic, and your precious Pokémon eggs would still make hatching progress. The most likely reason for its removal is that it wasn’t actually making much difference to battery usage – but we're still disappointed it’s been removed.
The hunt was conducted in an area with a high density of Pokéstops, ensuring plenty of game activity. As far as tracking data usage was concerned, the phone’s usage stats were reset so it would be easy to calculate how much data the game was using.
Over the course of the hour I managed to hatch an egg, visited 27 Pokéstops and caught 22 Pokémon – including an extended battle with a particularly troublesome high-level Jynx – and the total amount of data used was... 4.8 megabytes!
So it turns out that while Pokémon GO is something of a battery hog (it used almost half my battery) it doesn’t have anywhere near the same kind of appetite when it comes to your precious mobile data.
Even if you played an hour every day for a month, you should only use about 150 MB of data –which is well within the allowance you’ll get on most mobile tariffs.
Also, keep an eye out for lures on your travels – that’s a Pokéstop with little hearts raining down from it. A lot of businesses have been placing them to attract players, so if your local coffee shop is doing that you could use their Wi-Fi to save on data – just be polite and buy something while you’re there!
It’s important to note that data usage will vary from device to device, and we’d always recommend monitoring your data usage to ensure you’re not going to go over your limit. However, based on this research, it looks like Pokémon hunting shouldn’t leave you with a 'Gastly' bill at the end of the month!