Image via Niantic

Catching Pokémon isn’t just about chucking balls at things that look at you funny. There’s finesse to it, an art, even. Sure, you can catch a Pokémon just by lobbing a PokéBall at its head, but if you go the extra mile and do it properly, I’d say that’s worthy of a little extra praise. So, what is an Expert Handler Bonus in Pokémon GO?

A couple of years ago, iPhones and iPads running iOS 11 and Android phones running Android 7.0 received a special Pokémon GO update for AR+ functionality. In any version of the game, you can turn on AR mode while catching Pokémon to superimpose it over your phone’s view of the real world. However, in regular AR mode, they just appear in front of you and stand there. In AR+ mode, on the other hand, extra steps are taken to make the catching process a little more realistic. If you can catch a Pokémon like this, you’ll receive an extra bonus to your XP and Stardust yields known as the Expert Handler Bonus.

What is an Expert Handler Bonus in Pokémon GO?

When you attempt to catch a Pokémon in AR+ mode, instead of just appearing in front of you, you’ll need to poke patches of tall grass that pop up around you to make it jump out. When the Pokémon appears, you’ll need to physically approach it before you can throw a PokéBall at it. 

Pokémon have an Awareness meter that shows how nervous they are of your presence. It rises if you approach them too forcefully, and if it fills all the way, they’ll get spooked and run away. If you can successfully approach the Pokémon without raising its Awareness, the meter will be replaced by the “Expert Handler Bonus” mark, indicating that you’ve successfully gotten near the Pokémon without scaring it. After you catch it, you’ll receive a boost to your received XP and Stardust.