Accessory maker Datel has had two attempts at making the ultimate Pokémon GO companion device: the Go-tcha and the Go-tcha Ranger. Both mimic the functionality of the Pokémon GO Plus (and the later Pokéball Plus) but with one massive advantage – they automate functions such as swiping nearby Pokéstops and catching 'mon, so you don't have to interact with the device at all; it does all of the busy work for you.
We really like both of the previous Go-tcha devices, but with one huge caveat – both of our review units completely failed after a few months (we actually had two of the original Go-tcha units die on us). Reliability is clearly a big problem with these devices, which makes reviewing the Go-tcha Evolve a little tricky; as much as we like it (and believe us, we do), we can't be entirely sure it will still be ticking over in six months. But for the time being, let's approach this latest accessory with a fairly open mind.
Go-tcha Evolve Review: Design And Functions
Like the original Go-tcha, the Go-tcha Evolve resembles a fitness tracker. It's a much larger unit than the original, but its design is arguably less obnoxious, so you don't need to feel self-conscious about wearing it in public (it's certainly a lot less obvious than the Pokémon GO Plus with its flashing multicolour LED). The strap is available in four colours – Dynamic Grey, Trailblazer Blue, Globetrotter Green and Daredevil Red – and is pretty comfortable. The main unit has a reasonably bright colour screen which displays information and cute little animations, and can be interacted with via a single touch-sensitive button.
Charging is handled by a full-size USB port which is accessed by removing the upper part of the strap. This is quite a tough process (so much so that the unit comes with an instruction sheet focused purely on how to charge the device) and it often feels like you're going to break something; Datel recommends that you remove it by pulling it at a 45-degree angle. This connection also means that the Go-tcha Evolve isn't water-resistant, so you'll want to make sure you remember to take it off before having a bath or shower. The unit takes about 1 and-a-half hours to fully charge, and a charge lasts a fair few days, depending on how much you use the device. For example, after a week of fairly casual use, our unit still has a single bar of battery remaining.
Tapping the single button on the front of the unit wakes it from sleep, and subsequent taps move you through the menu system one option at a time. You can choose to toggle things like auto-catching (of both known and unknown monsters – you can choose to ignore ones you already have in your Pokédex) and auto-swiping of Pokéstops, as well as vibration alerts. The unit will also show if your Go-tcha Evolve is currently connected to your phone, and you can choose to have it display the time and date when it wakes from sleep, instead of the standard startup animation. You can choose to turn off the automatic processes if you so wish, and manually tap the device to execute a catch or Pokéstop swipe.
But that's not all! There's a pedometer that tracks how many steps you've taken, and it's pretty accurate from what we can ascertain – it kept pace with our Apple Watch, at least. You can also choose to totally silence the device so no alerts come through, which is handy when you're in a quiet environment and don't want it constantly flashing and vibrating. Speaking of the latter, the motor inside the Go-tcha Evolve is a little bit feeble and unless you're standing totally still, you often can't feel when it's vibrating.
The Go-tcha Evolve is listed as being compatible with the iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR devices with iOS 10.0 or later installed. We'd also assume that the latest iPhone 11 models are supported. On the Android side of things, the requirement is a device with 2 GB RAM or more, Bluetooth Smart (Bluetooth Ver. 4.0 or higher) capability, and Android 5.0 or higher. There's a dedicated app available for both iOS and Android which allows you to toggle various settings more easily, as well as download firmware updates for the device itself. To connect the Go-tcha Evolve to the app, you'll need to make sure it's not currently connected to Pokémon GO itself.
As you might expect, the Go-tcha Evolve behaves very much like a Pokémon GO Plus, albeit with the ability to automate functions. Pokémon GO sees the device as a Pokémon GO Plus, so there's no way that Niantic can 'disable' it from the app (it's worth stressing that this product is 100% unofficial and not sanctioned by Nintendo, The Pokémon Company or Niantic). However, it also means that the Go-tcha Evolve is subject to the same limitations as the Pokémon GO – namely, it won't stay connected forever and often disconnects at seemingly random times. We assume this has much to do with how your phone handles RAM management (we were using an iPhone XR, which has a rather pathetic 3GB of memory), but it's hardly a deal-breaker; when it happens, you just open the app, tap the Pokémon GO Plus icon, wake the Go-tcha Evolve and the connection is re-established.
Go-tcha Evolve Review: The Verdict
Right now, we can't fault the Go-tcha Evolve. It improves on the original model and the full-colour screen is a real bonus. It's slightly larger, but it's not what we'd call an ugly product – so there's no real shame in being seen wearing it when you're out and about. Battery life is good, and the fact that it tracks your steps as well as helps your monster hunting makes it even more appealing (especially as the process of playing Pokémon GO is sure to boost your daily step count).
The real question is: how long will this thing last? Datel's track record in this regard leaves something to be desired, and while we can't say for sure that the Go-tcha Evolve will suffer the same fate as its flaky predecessors, we can only offer a cautious recommendation at present. We'll update this review if the situation changes over the next few months, but for the time being, this appears to be the dream device for dedicated Pokémon GO players.
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