How Tech Works

What Will Months of Catching Pokémon Do To Your Battery?

Everyone knows Pokémon GO wreaks havoc on your daily battery life. But that hasn’t stopped people from playing it. And since we’ll probably still be dodging mobs of Pokémon hunters six months from now, as iFixit’s resident statistician—I started wondering: What kind of impact will months of Pokémon hunting and hatching have on your battery in the long run?

(Spoiler alert: The impact is pretty significant.)

The Great PokéDrain of 2016

Recently, CNET ran some experiments and figured how much of your battery gameplay burns up. Using an iPhone 6s running at 80% brightness with all background apps disabled—they determined that Pokémon GO drains 30% of battery power during an hour of play and 34% when coupled with Spotify. (For reference, Facebook’s battery-burning app burned though only 10% of the battery power on the same phone.) I’d suspect the Pokédrain is even higher on older iPhones that don’t have modern-day efficiency or power-saving modes.

Now let’s apply this drainage to wear on your physical battery. According to Apple, your iPhone battery is designed to retain “up to 80% of its original capacity at 500 complete charge cycles.” If your battery tests below 80% it will be replaced under AppleCare+.

Now, we factor in longterm Pokémon GO usage. I graphed the relationship between Pokémon GO playtime (minutes/day) and the number of days it takes an iPhone user to reach 500 cycles, assuming the game drains 30% battery/hour. Phone usage (sans Pokémon) will vary from person to person, so each line represents a different level of average daily use (as a percentage of battery capacity).

Graph showing phone battery and Pokemon Go timesDepending on your daily usage, the results are staggering. If you normally drain about 75% of your battery every day, you’ll have about 22 months before you reach 500 cycles. Add in 30 minutes of chasing Pokémon every day, and that number drops below 18 months. Which means that playing an average amount of Pokémon GO reduces the lifespan of your phone’s battery by more than 15%. The proportional impact is even more extreme for those that limit their regular phone use—at 50% daily battery use, the overall lifespan of your battery is reduced by over 230 days, or 23%. That’s a major bummer.

TL;DR: Playing Pokémon GO regularly means you’ll be replacing your battery more often. GO addicts beware, because even if you normally only use up 25% of your battery power for stuff like Facebook and texting, you’ll still need to average fewer than 90 minutes/day of Pokémon play to make it 2 years on your battery. Because you can’t catch Pokémon if you’re tethered to an outlet.

And to the teen I keep passing on my way to work: Assuming you play as much as I suspect (8 hours/day) and use your phone for absolutely nothing else (because you’re so damn busy stalking rare Pokémon)—you can look forward to replacing your battery every 200 days.

When that time comes, I recommend you take all that extra physical activity to heart and fix it yourself.