Two devices are company, three's a crowd
Since the launch of the Pokémon GO Plus back in 2016, the market for auto-catching companion devices has become a pretty crowded one. Whether it's on a wrist, clipped to a bag, or stuck straight onto the phone screen, when it comes to finding a bit of kit that will automatically spin PokÃ©Stops and catch wild 'mon, you're inundated with options.
Until very recently, however, all of these options suffered from the same problem: the dreaded disconnect. For battery-saving purposes, Pokémon GO companion devices would disconnect after an hour, preventing your phone from running out of juice, but running the risk of missing out on valuable catches in the process.
Reconnection is by no means an arduous task (either a tap on the relevant icon in the Pokémon GO app or clicking a button on the auto-catcher itself tends to do the trick), but it is a nuisance that has prevented companion devices from being completely hands-off.
However, in 2022, PhotoFast released the 247 Catcher, a device which, as the name suggested, promised to stay catching and spinning indefinitely. There were some rather large catches (apologies) to do with the device's un-pocketable shape and requirement for the screen to be permanently on, but the technology was there and it would only be a matter of time before others would follow.
And so we meet BrookGaming's Pocket iRecatcher â a device that utilises image recognition tech to monitor your auto-catcher's connectivity and keep it running.
Wait a second, you might be thinking, what do you mean, "keep your auto-catcher connected"? Is this not an auto-catcher? If the thought had crossed your mind, you would be correct. This is not a piece of kit for catching 'mon while you are away. Instead, its job is to figuratively poke your auto-catcher with a stick and tell it to do something when it inevitably nods off.
The fact that this is not an auto-catcher might just be its biggest downfall. The 247 Catcher showed us a companion device that would ball up Pokémon for us and keep itself online. The iRecatcher is great at the latter but requires another, separate device to actually catch Pokémon and carry out any of the handy tasks that those buying a Pokémon GO companion device will surely be looking for.
This isn't to say that the iRecatcher isn't a handy bit of kit for the right person. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Paired with an auto-catcher of your choosing (we used BrookGaming's own Pocket Auto Catch Light for this review, though according to the manufacturer, any other official or third-party device is compatible), the iRecatcher performed exactly as it should, and seamlessly reconnected the other device whenever it dropped out. There's even an Auto-Tap Mode, which taps your screen at a speedy rate and makes Raids and Gym Battles a breeze.
But how it does this is, unfortunately, has all of the same issues that we have seen in the past.
How it works
The iRecatcher attaches to your phone screen via a sticky pad and uses a built-in camera to monitor the image of wherever it is placed (right over the connected accessories button in Auto-Reconnect Mode) before 'tapping' the icon with "air gesture technology" to bring it back online.
Much like the 247 Catcher, this means that the screen in use needs to be permanently on â bye-bye battery. What's more, the iRecatcher connects through the phone's charging port, meaning that there's no option to keep your device plugged in while the auto-connector does its work. The iPhone X we used for this review does not offer wireless charging, but this could be a workaround if the option is available to you â and if you're content to add a portable wireless charger to this menagerie of connected devices you're carrying.
This awkwardness extends into the iRecatcher's design. Visually, the device isn't too harsh on the eye. The back camera and small screen do produce a cool look when magnifying the PokÃ© Ball logo in Auto-Reconnect Mode, and the white and yellow colouring makes it look like it has walked straight out of the Pokémon anime. But devices in the anime wouldn't be practical in the real world (who's fitting a Pokédex in their back pocket?) and the iRecatcher's bulky design is no exception.
When using the device in situations where you would like to keep an eye on the screen (in Battles, for example) the iRecatcher's size soon becomes a nuisance. Sure, this is compact enough for chucking in your bag and whipping out at a moment's notice, but with a width of around two-thirds of an iPhone X's screen, you're looking at a rather large area being obstructed when the device is attached.
Coincidentally, attaching the iRecatcher comes with its own difficulties. The sticky pad with which the unit clings to the phone screen feels somewhat rudimentary (a small piece of plastic with sticky tabs on both sides) and quickly begins to show durability issues. Sticking the iRecatcher to our device at first was a breeze, but after attaching and reattaching several times over, the tab began to lose its stickiness and would drop off the screen at the slightest knock. Keeping it on the phone while in a pocket or bag is out of the question, even if the fear of accidental screen inputs isn't enough to put you off.
To be fair, the device does come with two replacement sticky pads and it has clearly been designed to be left stationary while you stay in one location, not interacting with your game. But this design will only get you so far when your charge runs out after a few hours due to continuous screen use â our battery (which is, admittedly, rather old) kept the app running for around three hours before packing it in.
Pocket iRecatcher Review - The Verdict
The Pocket iRecatcher does exactly what it sets out to do but with a couple of heavy caveats. If you suffer from disconnect anxiety and really want to keep your auto-catcher online for a few more hours, then this is the tool for you. Similarly, if you get tired of the rapid taps required for battling then BrookGaming has you covered.
However, the charging port connection and screen requirements mean that this is a one-way ticket to your battery dying out â an online auto-catcher is only useful if your phone has the charge to keep the app open, after all. Throw in the fact that you will still need a separate device to catch 'mon while you're away and the iRecatcher's price tag feels like an unnecessary expense only for the most dedicated auto-catch users out there who are willing to work around its awkwardness.
Brook Gaming supplied the iRecatcher and Pocket Auto Catch Light used in this review.
The Pocket iRecatcher is now available to pre-order at the sale price of $35.