The best phone for Pokémon Go is iPhone. Get one to win.

Since Pokémon Go launched Raids last month, I've participated in well over a hundred. I've done several solo, but most have been in groups — sometimes up to 30 people at a time.

It's a really great, really cooperative and community-building experience. You see people from all teams working together, and with all phones. iPhone and Android. And you hear a lot of complaints. Mostly about Android.

Battling the battery

Battery life is one of the biggest complaints. It's not uncommon to see a half-dozen or more Android phone owners with cables running to the battery packs in their pockets or yelling for everyone to start because they're at 13% battery life and plummeting.

Sure, Pokémon Go hits all phone batteries hard. It just seems to hurt Android phones the most.

Losing to lag

Lag is another frequent complaint. Raids have countdown timers, and, when they go off, everyone is supposed to start together. It's not atypical for Android phone owners to start a few endless-feeling seconds later. Sometimes they're just delayed and find themselves stuck battling on when iPhone owners have finished. Other times they simply lose the time and don't get to contribute as much as everyone else.

In a large group that's not terminal. In a small group and especially solo, it can be the difference between winning and losing.

You often hear Android owners remind each other to reboot or restart the game before joining a Raid as well.

Driving the decision

More and more often these days, others players have been asking me about iPhone. Especially why I don't seem to be suffering from the same problems they are. And more and more, they're contemplating making the switch.

One player I met the other day was on his newish LG phone and his girlfriend was on her iPhone SE. He kept going on and on about how much faster, more reliable, and long-lasting her tiny phone was compared to his monster.

(It's also not uncommon for the hardcore players to complain about Poké Ball burn-in on their OLED displays — something I hope Apple manages to mitigate if the rumors are true about the upcoming iPhone 8 display.

The difference between winning and losing

None of this might sound like a big deal to some gamers right now, but with Legendary Raids and Player vs. Player on the horizon, it could become one and soon.

Especially for higher-level players. I saw this on Reddit earlier this morning. It's from a level 40 — currently the highest level in the game — player and his attempt to do one of the hardest challenges currently in the game: Solo a Flareon Raid.

Keys to success: [...] Using an iPhone - my Andriod phone (what I was recording my other phone with) is way laggier and starts the battle between 176 and 178 - I can't afford that missed time [...]

It's not just old Android vs. new iPhone, either. Even old iPhone seems to outperform new Android.

Andriods unfortunately performer worse for pokemon go. I have no idea why. I use a pixel and iPhone 6s. 6s destroys my pixel in terms of performance for this game. [sic]

To put that in context, Google's current flagship phone can't keep up with Apple's previous generation — or the game.

It's also not just Raid Battles. From a Reddit thread titled PoGo+ behavior is far inferior on Android compared to iOS:

The difference [between Android and iOS] is quite dramatic.Whenever we do Megaloop in Toronto (http://imgur.com/ZThUDVF). Basically, a 5-minute loop where you spin 27 poke stops that are lured (we only do this during events and every sunday with a big group).On average, we found that iPhones will catch 4 Pokemon more plus (sic) loop or about 48 Pokemon more per hour. As well be able to spin more stops.

For those not familiar with the game mechanics, 48 is a significant number, working out to a minimum of 144 candy and 4800 stardust — the stuff you need to evolve and power-up your Pokémon.

Time to switch

Pokemon Go Gym

Pokemon Go Gym (Image credit: iMore/ Rene Ritchie)

I tried Pokémon Go on my Pixel briefly and it was annoying after having used it on an iPhone 7 Plus. If I'd never played it on an iPhone, I'd just blame Pokémon Go developer Niantic for all the lag — and, yeah, they're responsible for an enormous amount of bugs and performance issues on both Android and iOS.

But having played it on iOS, both solo and in groups, it's wicked obvious that part of the blame also rests on Android.

And since you have no control over Niantic, all that's left is to exercise the control you do have over the phone you use.

Don't take my word for it, though. If you don't have an iPhone, see if you can borrow one from a friend, log into your Pokémon Go account, and give playing and Raiding a try.

I'm guessing it will more than make you want to switch to iPhone.

See iPhone at Apple

Rene Ritchie
Contributor

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

21 Comments
  • I seriously, seriously question the validity of the claim concerning "Pokeball burn-in" on OLED screens. But, if you seriously manage to do that, especially with today's OLED's, then what you need is an intervention, not an iPhone.
  • iPhone 8 is supposed to be OLED. I'm terrified ;)
  • Adults obsessing over a game? If it works for you ok. I wonder how long this extended job interview to work for Apple is going to last.
  • I wouldn't question it, there are still many OLED displays which are highly susceptible to burn-in. The ones on Samsung devices should be fine, but other, cheaper brands still suffer with this issue
  • "I don't know. I can hardly install the game on my iPhone 4, it lags, battery is always empty. Therefore, iPhone sucks at playing this game and ANY AND EVERY iOS DEVICE IS CRAP!!!!" There, I just followed the thought-process of this article :) I really wonder if those Android devices are flagships that no older than 1-2 years? Like the mentioned iPhone SE and iPhone 6s?
  • Volley to Rene to respond, but you may not have read carefully as he describes the couple with the SE and Android as the Android being a newer model. Sounds like you are a little sensitive to your choice of phones. Remember Rene's recent editorial on this topic. You aren't being judged for your choice, just accept the tradeoffs, e.g., less performance and less privacy.
  • Here is only a year old model of a newish LG phone. http://www.gsmarena.com/lg_k4-7883.php Surprise, I bet it will perform badly. Just because Apple doesn't make low-end phones doesn't mean low-end phones do not exist. And of course I am sensitive to my choice of phones! I am reading iMore after all, a site dedicated to smartphones (among other technology devices). Do you expect anyone here not care what phone they have? Do you not care? I had iPhone SE for 3 months, then iPhone 6s for 4 months, after finally giving up and getting a Galaxy S7 (exynos version, I must add). I got better camera, better battery life, much better display, and equal performance in most apps I use. I lost performance in some apps, mainly games; fortunately, I do not game too much. I also got more frequent updates. (I know nobody will believe me on the last point.. but I receive a security system update once a month, and that's ignoring all the updates to system services like web browser, google play services, google assistant, samsung pay, samsung pass, etc. I didn't receive nearly that many updates on the iPhone, although both devices feel rock solid with iPhone having only slightly more app crashes.)
  • The guy I quoted was using an iPhone 6s (2015) and Pixel (2016), and that's telling. It's also not really news to anyone, I imagine, since each platform has strengths and weaknesses.
  • You will also have better game play with an iPhone 6s / plus model vs a 7 or 7 plus.
    I have more GPS drift with my 7plus and have had times i have had to go back to my 6s to play accurately.
  • Not had this myself, albeit I never owned a 6S, just a 6. Worked fine on both my 6 and 7
  • iPhone superiority in this case may be true —but let us not pretend for a moment that the Pokeomn GO for iOS app is any example of decent programming. Through all revisions I have never used a single piece of software that was more problematic, inefficient and bloated (and unfortunately sometimes even took the iPhone's system along with it). This is an infuriating app to run and it's even more infuraiting that I continue to update and play with it!
  • No, the app in infuriating, as you say.
  • Read this article:
    https://www.imore.com/giving-ipad-fire-mere-mortals-myopia-and-elitism-c... Why arguing about how someone else chooses to compute, be it on an iPad or Android, says more about you than it does them.
  • LOL. If someone wants a touch screen, telling them a Mac is fine is just mean. If someone wants to run Final Cut Pro X, telling them to buy an iPad isn't productive. If someone wants to play Pokémon Go and have the best possible experience, recommending an iPhone is currently the best advice. Of course, they may want Android for other stuff, which is perfectly great for them.
  • My point is that article I linked to is an article about "don't you tell me I am wrong for my choice in computing." And here you are telling people that their choice in phones is up to you to decide. Don't get me wrong, I refuse to use anything Google, but that is me. I am primarily a Windows user, but have quite a bit of Apple in my life - in front of me as I write this is a Mac Pro, MacBook Pro, Mac Mini. I spend most of my time at WC and there is no endless supply of Apple people who troll over there who believe it is their duty to attack anything that is not Apple. But when you turn it around, they use what you wrote about in that linked article. And this article only shows it more, an Apple person can tell others what they should be using, how they should use it but don't you dare do the same to an Apple person because that would be trying to take away their opinion and that should just not be allowed.
  • The F?? And here I thought it was about the career because my iPhone actually lags and loses connection whenever I actually get the opportunity to play. Sorry AT&T, guess it wasn't your fault after all according to Rene.
  • Framerate drops/crashing wouldn't be caused by a poor connection, but yes losing connection would be your carrier and not your device.
  • just some notes from my experience - Iphone 6+ regular crashes starting with the last raid update version from pokemon go - but on I Pad pro 10.5 it´s very less crashes an long battery life with actual developer version of IOs 11 (but most people i asume think I´m crazy running around with an Ipad playing Pokemon go - and yeas they are right)
  • Running Pokémon Go on the iOS 11 beta is painful, since it's already high consumption and adding Pokémon Go is a good way to drain it away.
  • yes ROUGH on iOS 11b2 - you can actually watch the batery level go down as soon as pokemon is launched
  • "rebooting, restarting, lagging, and cursing" accurately describes my experience playing Pokemon Go using an iphone 6. And don't forget to add "crashing" to that list. My buddy using a Nexus 6P has never had a problem that I could see and we both have the same carrier.