Pokémon is a massive franchise with 25 years of games, movies, toys, and more. While much of Pokémon’s content has made its way to Nintendo handhelds and consoles, there are plenty of Pokémon apps for iPhone and Android, featuring original games, support for other games, and additional ways to engage with all things Pokémon. While we’ve all heard about Pokémon Go by now, read ahead for some of the other fantastic Pokémon apps, including some hidden gems you may not be aware of, and be sure to check out all the Pokémon games for the Nintendo Switch while you’re at it!
Best Overall: Pokémon Go
While I may be a touch biased here, you cannot argue with the numbers. Pokémon Go, developed and published by Niantic in partnership with Nintendo and The Pokémon Company, has been a massive success. With more than a billion downloads and generating over six billion in revenue by the end of 2020, Pokémon Go is a huge part of the Pokémon franchise. In fact, while virtually all-new Pokémon are formally introduced in the core Pokémon games, movies, or tv shows, two of the most recent Mythical Pokémon, Meltan and Melmetal, were introduced in Pokémon Go before making their debut in the core games and anime.
But what exactly is Pokémon Go? Pokémon Go is an AR location-based game that lets you find, battle, and catch Pokémon in the real world. Whether in your backyard, at your local Starbucks, or on a walk through a park, anywhere you can travel, you will find Pokémon. Now, almost five years later, you can still find players in just about any public place, especially during big events which bring the community together to celebrate Pokémon.
That having been said, Pokémon Go isn’t perfect. This past year has required Niantic to change a lot of aspects of the game to make it more accessible for players who cannot safely travel, but it’s still a game best played on foot and with other people. When you can’t travel much, in-app purchases become necessary to keep playing as well. Further, there isn’t a way to communicate with friends in the app, making it very difficult to coordinate Remote Raids. However, it’s still an incredibly fun game going into its fifth year and the folks at Niantic have worked really hard to make sure they’re constantly evolving the game to provide more fun and challenge for players.
- Can be played virtually anywhere
- Free to play
- Massive global community
- Best played while traveling on foot
- In-app purchases add up
- Virtually no in-app communication
Putting the pocket in Pocket Monsters
Pokémon Go combines the “gotta catch ’em all” excitement of the Pokémon franchise with all the unique and exciting real-world locations in your city. Virtually everywhere you go in the real world, you can find, battle, and catch Pokémon with Pokémon Go, all from your iPhone or Android smartphone.
Most Useful: Pokémon HOME
As the eighth generation of Pokémon games wrap up, players who’ve been at it since the early days of Pokémon Red and Pokémon Green have amassed enormous collections of Pokémon with each game able to store between 240 and 1,000 Pokémon each. While many Trainers have been forced to leave some of their Pokémon behind in previous generations’ games, there are still quite a few who’ve continued to trade up their best Pokémon whenever a new game is released. Then came Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield with, for the first time in a core game, an incomplete Pokédex. Rather than making players abandon all their Pokémon who cannot be transferred to the current gen, Pokémon HOME was released.
The successor to Pokémon Bank, Pokémon HOME is the latest app for storing Pokémon from all of the core games and Pokémon Go. Pokémon HOME allows players to transfer Pokémon between games and serves as storage for the many Pokémon who either can’t be transferred to the current games or who players don’t need in their current games. Capable of storing up to 6,000 Pokémon, Pokémon HOME isn’t just for storage either. It also allows for trading, earning rewards and Mystery Gifts, and learning more about Pokémon.
- Convenient mobile and Switch versions
- Excellent organizational tools
- Capable of holding up to 6,000 individual Pokémon
- Is the easiest way to obtain Meltan and Melmetal
- Most of the features require a paid subscription
- The mobile and Switch versions have very different functionality
- Compatibility with Pokémon Go took a while and is limited
A HOME for all your Pokémon
Pokémon HOME is a must-have for any serious Pokémon player. Whether you have a couple of generations of Pokémon from the core games, a massive collection in Pokémon Go or both, Pokémon HOME will keep up to 6,000 of your favorite Pokémon safe, while allowing you to trade with other players, earn rewards, and even earn Meltan encounters in Pokémon Go.
Best Puzzle Game: Pokémon Shuffle
Although there have been more than a few unofficial and official Pokémon puzzle games, Pokémon Shuffle remains the best almost six years later. It takes the basics of a match-three game and adds a few Pokémon specific features, such as type strengths and weaknesses, capturing new Pokémon, and even Mega Evolution. The graphics are clean and crisp, and the gameplay is going to be familiar for any fan of match-three puzzles.
Although Pokémon Shuffle operates similarly to most mobile match-three games with limited plays being regenerated over time, there is an option to pay for more plays, as well as to buy other in-game bonuses. Unfortunately, this game’s final update came in 2018 with developer Genius Sonority moving on to Pokémon Café Mix. Still, this game is a lot of fun and there’s still plenty of content to keep players new and old alike busy.
- Bright and colorful
- Solid gameplay
- Can be played for free.
- The last update was released in 2018
Best Puzzle Game
Pokémon Shuffle Mobile
Match three meets Pokémon
If you enjoy games like Bejeweled and Candy Crush, but think they need a little more Pokémon, Pokémon Shuffle is the app for you. Match three or more Pokémon to battle and catch every Pokémon from Bulbasaur to Marshadow in this fun and colorful game.
Runner Up Puzzle Game: Pokémon Café Mix
Although I still prefer Pokémon Shuffle, Genius Sonority’s latest Pokémon puzzle game is still a solid choice and a lot of fun. Instead of battling and catching Pokémon, you play as a new café owner working alongside an Eevee to prepare tasty drinks and food for various Pokémon customers. If you can impress your customers enough by completing levels, they may even come to work at your café, providing their own unique bonuses when brought into play. The artwork and music are charming and the gameplay is very easy to learn.
Much like its predecessor, Pokémon Café Mix is free to play, but also includes microtransactions for premium currency, bonuses, and even special Pokémon. While both games can be played without ever spending money, I found that Café Mix is definitely more demanding on the wallet. Still, because it was just released last year, Pokémon Café Mix is getting updates with new levels, treats, and Pokémon being added at least once a month.
- Charming art and music
- Easy to learn
- Can be played for free
- So many microtransactions
- Can be sluggish on older phones
Runner Up Puzzle
Pokémon Café Mix
Have you ever wanted to run a Pokémon café?
The latest match-three Pokémon puzzle game from Genius Sonority, Pokémon Café Mix challenges you and your partner, Eevee, to run a Pokémon café. Match as many Pokémon icons as quickly as you can to get your orders out to your many Pokémon customers in this cute and colorful app.
Best Non-Game App: Pokémon TV
While most of the apps in this list are games or companions to the game, Pokémon TV is all about watching Pokémon. Whether you’re looking to catch up on the latest episodes of Pokémon Journeys, to relive the nostalgia of Saturday mornings from your childhood, or even see the latest in Pokémon TCG tournaments, Pokémon TV has a collection of episodes, specials, and more that change out regularly. Available in 13 different languages, the best part of Pokémon TV is that it’s completely free.
Although this app doesn’t have every single episode and movie available all the time, it does offer a lot at any one time and the catalog is rotated often. You can even cast from the app straight to your Apple TV or Chromecast. And did I mention, it’s completely free?
- Hundreds of hours of Pokémon
- Completely free
- Can cast to Apple TV and Chromecast
- Specific content is only available for a limited time
- Seasons appear to be randomly chosen
Watch all your favorite Pokémon
Gotta watch ’em all
With the Pokémon TV app, you’ll always have access to hundreds of hours of Pokémon shows, movies, and more. Entire seasons of Pokémon anime, as well as movies, specials, and coverage of Pokémon TCG tournaments are rotated a couple of times a month. Watch from your phone or cast to your TV and, best of all, it’s completely free.
Best for young kids: Pokémon Playhouse
Although the target demographic for Pokémon is preteen kids and plenty of adults enjoy Pokémon as well, the Pokémon franchise offers plenty of fun for younger fans as well. Of the many toys, games, and apps designed for preschool-age kids, Pokémon Playhouse has to be my favorite so far. This app is bright and colorful, as well as fully voiced — perfectly accessible for your youngest Pokémon Trainers.
Set in a daycare-like center, Pokémon Playhouse starts children off with several Pokémon friends and a human friend, Leena who will periodically provide the player with new a new Pokémon egg to hatch. Players hatch their eggs by reading stories, playing games, and interacting with their existing Pokémon friends. None of the games are particularly challenging and Leena reads the stories aloud, making Pokémon Playhouse accessible for children ages 3-5.
The only downside I could find is the limited amount of content. While there are several ways to interact with and befriend new Pokémon, the updates have only included bug fixes. There are only three stories and overall, players can only befriend about 50 Pokémon. While this may be plenty to keep some preschoolers happy, others may be bored before they’ve completed their collection.
- Fun, colorful animations and cheerful voice acting
- Several activities and nearly 50 Pokémon
- Free and safe
Fun for the youngest Pokémon Trainers
Read stories and play games with Pokémon
Geared towards children ages 3-5, Pokémon Playhouse is a cute app that offers stories, games, and play with nearly 50 Pokémon. Available for iOS and Android, this app is a great way to include your little one in the Pokémon fun.
Runner up for young kids: Pokémon Quest
Rated for children four and up, Pokémon Quest takes the player to Tumblecube Island where they will encounter Pokéxel – Pokémon made up of cubes reminiscent of Minecraft. Players will choose a starter from Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle, Pikachu, and Eevee, who will join them on expeditions around the island. By battling wild Pokémon and collecting various items, players can expand their team and uncover the mysteries of Tumblecube Island, leading to an encounter with a certain rare Pokémon.
Although there is a lot more content for Pokémon Quest than Pokémon Playhouse, with a single playthrough averaging over 40 hours, it’s not quite as accessible for the youngest of players as it requires some reading. Further, there are microtransactions in this game – something your young child might not understand. Still, it’s a fun take on a Pokémon adventure and easier to play than the core games.
- Easy to learn gameplay with an auto mode
- Free to start
- Fun music and original designs
- Some reading involved
Best Unofficial App: PokéRaid
Most seasoned Pokémon Go players have at least attempted to join groups on Facebook or other social networking apps to connect with other players. At a certain point, it really becomes necessary unless you have a large group of friends or family who all play at the same time – not to mention how critical having Pokémon Go friends and gifts has been in the last year when many players couldn’t get to PokéStops or Gyms to stock up on items. Unfortunately, Facebook groups can be hit-or-miss, assuming there is even one in your local area.
While there are literally dozens of unofficial apps out there, ranging from useless to game-changing, perfectly legit to banworthy, none of them have impressed me as much as PokeRaid – Raid From Home. Implemented with the introduction of Remote Raid passes, PokeRaid allows you to connect with players all around the world to organize Raid Parties for taking on the various *Pokémon Go* Raids. It is incredibly easy to set up and use, and best of all, it abides by Niantic’s TOS, so you won’t get banned for using it. Whether looking for people to join your Raids, for other Raids to join, or even just Friends to exchange Gifts and earn XP, PokeRaid makes this so incredibly quick and easy.
There’s a bit of a learning curve and especially high demand Raids go fast. Some options use in-app currency as well, so players who pay will have better access. However, you can also earn coins by hosting Raids and logging in each day. The only other problem I have had is the app will periodically crash, but upon reopening the app, I hadn’t lost any progress, so this was more of a mild inconvenience in an otherwise great experience.
- Follows Niantic TOS
- Can be used completely free
- Learning curve
- Occasionally crashes
- Players who pay get priority
Must have for serious Pokémon Go players
PokéRaid – Raid From Home
Never Raid alone again
PokeRaid – Raid From Home makes forming Pokémon Go Raid parties and finding Remote Raids fast and easy. Join in with players from all around the world to battle the toughest of Raid bosses. Free to join and without risk of being banned, this app is a real game-changer.
Best for creative fun: PokéArt
Over a year before Pokémon TCG had its U.S. release, my small collection of imported Japanese Pokémon cards earned me some serious cred on the playground at school. However, it was the homemade cards my friends and I played with that I enjoyed the most. Playing with PokéArt seriously brought back that nostalgia for me.
With several templates to edit, the ability to upload photos and art, or even draw your own on the screen, and an easy-to-use interface, this app lets you design your very own Pokémon cards that will look just like the real deal. It’s ad-supported, but for a small, one-time fee, you can remove the ads permanently. PokéArt also includes an AR feature that lets you take pictures with your new cards. There’s even a social section of the app which allows you to submit your designs for other users to vote on; although, as with anything else online, there will always be some posts that aren’t child-friendly.
- Easy to use
- Creates realistic-looking virtual cards
- Submissions can be inappropriate
Build your own Pokémon Cards
Get creative and make your own Pokémon cards
Whether you missed out on the Pokémon card Happy Meals or you just want to relive the childhood fun of creating your own, PokéArt is an easy-to-use app that provides all the templates you could need. You just supply the pictures and words. You can even take realistic AR photos with your designs and share them with other users.
Best Upcoming: Pokémon UNITE
While there are plenty of Pokémon apps, both official and fanmade, in the works, Pokémon UNITE is certainly the most exciting of the lot (although I’m still holding out hope for Pokémon SLEEP!) We don’t know exactly how awesome Pokémon UNITE will be but given the massive success of Tencent and its subsidiary TiMi Studio’s other mobile games, we definitely have high hopes.
This MOBA-style game matches up two teams of up to five players, each with their own Pokémon that they must level up by battling wild Pokémon. Unlike any Pokémon game yet, Pokémon UNITE won’t incorporate Pokémon types and will feature all new “Unite moves” unique to each Pokémon. It will be available on iOS, Android, and the Nintendo Switch, and support cross-platform play. We don’t know when Pokémon UNITE will launch, but the second closed beta will be held in March 2021 specifically for Canadian Android users.
- Free to start
- Unique approach to Pokémon
- No Pokémon types
A Pokémon MOBA
A whole new approach to Pokémon
Pokémon UNITE is an upcoming Pokémon game from TiMi Studios, the Tencent subsidiary responsible for Arena of Valor and Call of Duty: Mobile. This MOBA is unlike anything in the Pokémon franchise, matching two teams of up to five players in a race to see who can level up their Pokémon the fastest and claim the most goal points on the map. Coming soon to iOS, Android, and Switch.
Honorable Mention: Discord
I know what you’re thinking. Discord isn’t a Pokémon app. And you’re right, but Discord is one of the most useful apps Pokémon players and fans alike can have. With countless servers across the world, you can use Discord to coordinate trades, set up Raid parties, catch up on the latest Pokémon developments, or just chat with other fans about the franchise we all love so much.
After a long day of writing Pokémon articles, I love to hop on Discord and share memes, plan out the next Community Day or read the latest results from my favorite data miners. My only real complaint is that it can be difficult to find servers with just enough activity. Mine are all either very slow or a constant flood.
- You probably already have it
- Infinite possibilities
- Finding servers can be a challenge
- Bigger servers tend to be too active
Keep in touch with your fellow Trainers
The best chat client around
Discord quickly became the number one VoIP client for gamers and has held that spot for several years. It’s easy to use and customize, and it already has tons of Pokémon servers. It is one of the best ways to connect with other Pokémon players and fans to talk about the games, coordinate trades, and more.
While there are truly dozens of Pokémon apps out there, these are the best I’ve found, and trust me, I’ve tried so many others. From the seasoned, hardcore players to the youngest Pokémon fans, there is truly something for everyone. Pokémon Go remains my top choice because it’s brought Pokémon into the spotlight in a way I haven’t seen since the first games hit shelves. While I’ve always known there were still plenty of Pokémon fans out there, I always find other players when I am out and about now.
Not only is it awesome to see people old enough to be my parents and barely old enough to walk enjoying this game I love so much, but Pokémon Go also encourages people to engage with the world around them. It encourages walking and traveling, and events like Community Day have always been so much fun. This past year has been especially hard, but even that has been made a little brighter thanks to Pokémon Go. If you have to choose just one app on this list, Pokémon Go is it, but luckily, we can catch ’em all.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Casian Holly is passionate about Pokémon. From the games to the anime, cards and toys, they eat, sleep, and breathe all things Pokémon. You can check out their many Pokémon Go and Pokémon Sword and Shield guides and coverage here on iMore.
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