These Are the Cheapest Phones and Plans for Playing Pokemon Go


Every kid in America seems to want to play Pokemon Go. But not every kid in America has a phone—or should have a phone. That's led, at least in our house, to a lot of "borrowing" of Mom's and Dad's phones for Go-related purposes.

If that's happening to you, and it's getting on your nerves, we looked into the cheapest way to set someone up for Pokemon Go.

The Cheapest Phones for Pokemon Go
Pokemon Go's system requirements mean it won't work on many basic phones. On Android, you need OS version 4.4 or greater, 2GB of RAM, and a non-Intel processor. The really tricky part is that to use the augmented reality features, your phone needs a gyroscope, and it's sometimes difficult to know if your phone has one. Apple devices need to be an iPhone 5 or greater, for example.

Any phone running Pokemon Go should support LTE, because you need that low 4G latency to catch anything.

The cheapest good phone in America today, the BLU R1 HD, runs $49.99 if you're an Amazon Prime subscriber, but it's still under $100 without Prime. It can run Pokemon Go just fine, but it lacks a gyro, so you don't get to capture your Pokemon in the "real world" with the camera view. That can be disappointing.

That makes the Moto G4, available on Amazon to Prime subscribers for $149.99, the cheapest phone that can play Pokemon Go well, as it has a gyro. If you aren't a Prime subscriber, you'll have to spend about $200 for your Go phone. A used, unlocked 16GB iPhone 5 at, meanwhile, runs $209.

If you're a geeky parent, it is apparently possible to hack a fake gyroscope function into the Huawei Honor 5X, which is $119.99 today only for Amazon Prime Day.

Going onto eBay or other used marketplaces can find you some even better deals. The Samsung Galaxy S5, Galaxy S4, LG G3, LG G2, and iPhone 5 all fit the bill here. I see used LG G2 phones for various US carriers under $100 on eBay. If you buy one of these used phones, make sure it works on your carrier's LTE network, because some gray-market imported phones don't.

The Cheapest Plans for Pokemon Go
Wi-Fi-only devices can play Pokemon Go, but it's frustrating, because you'll only be able to play it in Wi-Fi hotspots. We really recommend having an LTE data connection. The cheapest way to get connected with Pokemon Go, if you're using the buddy system, is simply to use another phone as a hotspot. That costs nothing, and it should work just fine.

If your Pokemon GoPhone needs its own plan, though, a $19 plan with 100 minutes and 1GB from US Mobile (using T-Mobile's network) is the cheapest appropriate plan. I used 36MB of data in just a few hours playing Pokemon Go last weekend, so a 1GB plan looks right for true aficionados. US Mobile gives you a no-commitment 1GB for $19.79 including taxes and fees, plus an initial $3.99 for the SIM card.

TracFone might come in handy here, too. Bring an unlocked phone to TracFone and you can sign up for its $15 plan, which includes 200MB of data. The trick is that you can then add a $10, 1GB card for a total of $25 and 1.2GB. With GSM phones like the unlocked phones mentioned above, TracFone will usually attach to the AT&T network, which may have more coverage than T-Mobile.

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