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The cheapest smartphones for playing Pokémon Go

Catching them all doesn't have to mean breaking the bank.


Mike Wehner


Published Jul 12, 2016   Updated May 26, 2021, 11:26 am CDT

With more active users than Tinder and install numbers that rival Twitter, Pokémon Go is a total cultural phenomenon. Unfortunately, having a phone that can actually run the game isn’t a universal privilege. If you’re aching to give the game a try and want to find the most affordable smartphone that will allow you to, here’s what you should look for. 

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iPhone 4s

On iOS, Pokémon Go required iOS 8.0 or later in order to be downloaded and installed. Thankfully, Apple’s mobile operating system has fantastic compatibility for older devices, which means that a phone as old as the iPhone 4s can still be updated to iOS 9 and beyond. 

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Sadly, the iPhone 4 can’t handle iOS 8 or later, but the 4s is still alive and well and can run the latest iOS updates. You can score a certified refurbished iPhone 4s for as little as $71.99 on Amazon

Some users have been reporting issues with the iPhone 4s crashing repeatedly while playing Pokémon Go. The official App Store requirements are indeed met by the iPhone 4s, and the game can be downloaded and installed on the device, but there’s a good chance the device is simply too old to run the game at an acceptable level. Niantic’s support page also notes that an iPhone 5 or later is recommended

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iPhone 5


In that case, the iPhone 5 might be your best bet. Luckily, you can score one for just a few bucks more than you’d pay for a 4s anyway, with price starting at under $100. This should be your most reliable option, as Niantic will likely continue to support the iPhone 5 for a while longer. 

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On Google’s Android platform, Pokémon Go requires Android 4.4 KitKat or later. There are many, many devices that run KitKat and beyond, but finding a suitable budget phone for Pokémon Go can be tricky. 


Going by overall reviews and general impressions, your best bet is the BLU Advance 5.0, a shockingly cheap $59.99 Android smartphone with a big five-inch display and a tiny 4GB of internal storage. 

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You’ll probably want to snag a larger SD card to go along with this, especially if you plan on using it for something other than Pokémon wrangling, but the price and specs list simply can’t be beat for an aspiring Pokémon master. 

If you’re one of the millions who is currently obsessed with Pokémon Go, there’s lots more to know:

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*First Published: Jul 12, 2016, 4:17 pm CDT