If you still play Pokémon Go on a smartphone or tablet running Android 5.0 “Lollipop” or iOS 10 or 11, you’ll no longer be able to access the game when Niantic pushes an update in mid-October. The Pokémon Go Twitter account confirmed that two popular older phones also won’t make the cut: the iPhone 5S and iPhone 6 are being left behind, despite the fact both phones can be upgraded to run iOS 12.
“iPhone 5S and 6 have just 1 GB of RAM, and we don’t want to hold back development and implementation of features for the vast majority of players who have more robust phones,” Niantic tells The Verge.
All things considered, the performance on those devices probably wasn’t great. Pokémon Go might not be as demanding as some other titles, but it relies heavily on your phone’s cameras, GPS tracking, and general chops to keep up with its 3D visuals, and can be quite a drain on an aging phone battery. But while Niantic tells The Verge that this change will only impact “a very small percentage of daily active players,” it’s still going to be a loss for those around the globe who don’t want to — or can’t — upgrade their phones.
If you have a flagship or midrange iPhone or Android handset from the past few years, you don’t need to worry. It’s those with much older or more affordable devices who might have to.
Pokémon Go is still incredibly popular: Last we heard from Niantic Labs, it said 2019 was its most lucrative year since the augmented reality game launched. And according to data from Sensor Tower, a mobile game and app analytics firm, the game’s popularity didn’t see a dip during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, it grew, seeing more than $254 million in revenue in Q — nearly a 38-percent revenue boost compared to the previous quarter. During the COVID-19 pandemic and the many stay-at-home orders it spurred, people couldn’t stop catching Pokémon. This year’s Pokémon Go Fest was the biggest yet, with players catching nearly a billion of the digital creatures. Niantic also smartly made the game easier to play indoors.
Losing these devices probably won’t make a huge impact on Niantic’s user base. But if you’re an avid Pokémon Go player with an outdated phone, you might be affected, so it’s good to have a little lead time before October.
Update, 8:00 PM ET: Added Niantic comment, and that the update will come in mid-October, specifically.