Deploying resonators allows you to capture and strengthen portals.

The Resonator Status Screen

The resonator status screen displays the resonators that are currently deployed on a portal, and allows you to deploy your own. To view it, tap the portal on the scanner (or select its key from your inventory, then tap the portal in the remote view), then tap the “Deploy” button. The status of the eight resonator slots are displayed on the left and right sides of the screen. If a resonator is currently occupying a slot, its level, deployer, and current strength are displayed. Also shown is a small panel that displays the portal’s current level, linking range and total energy. At the bottom is the resonator carousel. You can swipe left and right to see how many resonators of each level are in your inventory, and to select one to deploy by moving it within the brackets in the center. Above the brackets is a button to deploy the selected resonator, while below it is a button to close the resonator status screen.

Deploying a Resonator

To deploy a resonator, you must stand in range (within 40 meters) of a neutral portal, or a friendly portal with at least one empty resonator slot. Bring up the portal’s resonator status screen. You can deploy a resonator in any open slot, regardless of where you are standing, as long as you are in range of the portal; walking around the portal is not necessary. By default, you will deploy in the empty resonator slot that is closest to your current position, with subsequent deployments moving clockwise around the portal; to deploy in a particular slot, tap the corresponding resonator display. You can tell which slot is selected because it will have a yellow highlight. Next, select the resonator level you wish to deploy in the carousel, then tap “Deploy.” The distance from the portal that the resonator will be deployed is the same as your distance from the portal. Deployment distance is important; see the strategy section below for details.

Deploying a resonator costs 50 XM per resonator level, and grants you 125 AP. Deploying a resonator on a neutral portal is referred to as capturing it, and gets you a 675 AP bonus. Deploying a resonator into a portal’s last open slot is called fully powering it, and nets a 250 AP bonus. Every resonator you deploy also contributes to your progress for the Builder medal, and capturing them contributes toward the Liberator medal. Capturing unique portals makes progress for the Pioneer medal.

Deployment Limitations

If you already own a certain number of resonators of a particular level on a portal, you cannot deploy more of that level. This limit varies by resonator level, and has implications for how many agents are required to create a portal of a particular level. For example, a lone L1 agent can make fully deployed L1 portals, but making a L8 portal requires eight L8 agents:

Level 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Limit for resonators of this level for one agent 8 4 4 4 2 2 1 1
Max portal level lone agent of this level can build 1 1 2 3 4 4 5 5
Min agents to build portal of this level (fewest) L1×1 L3×1 L4×1 L5×1 L7×1 L7×2 L8×3 L8×8
Min agents to build portal of this level (lowest level) L1×1 L2×2 L3×2 L4×2 L5×4 L6×4 L7×8 L8×8

Note that Niantic will sometimes temporarily change these deployment limits for special events or to accommodate unusual circumstances. For example, the spread of COVID-19 induced Niantic to temporarily raise the L7 and L8 resonator deploy limit to two so as to reduce the number of agents gathering at a portal.

Resonator Placement Strategy

Resonator placement can make a huge difference in how difficult it is for the enemy to destroy them. Once a resonator is deployed, it can’t be moved, even when upgraded by others. This means that it is important even for low-level agents to understand how to properly deploy their resonators.

Because XMPs are area effect weapons that do more damage the closer they are fired to the target, spreading out your resonators will generally require enemy agents to spend more XMPs to take them down. Therefore, it is usually desirable to deploy resonators at maximum range (40 meters) from the portal. One way to do this is to walk out of range of the portal, then slowly walk back towards it until the “Deploy” button lights up again. However, there is one factor that puts a wrinkle in this strategy: ultra strikes.

A portal will nearly always retaliate when any of its resonators are damaged by an agent within its zap range. However, when all a portal’s resonators are deployed at max range, enemy agents can strip off its mods without taking damage by standing on the portal itself and firing ultra strikes. To counter this, you can deploy a couple of resonators close to the portal (say, 9 meters). Alternatively, if two portals are around 30 to 50 meters apart, their resonators may overlap with each other in a way that may allow them to defend each other from ultra strikes.

Deploy the highest-level resonators on opposite sides of the portal from each other. For example, when two L8 agents deploy on a portal, if one agent deploys a L8 resonator in the north slot, the other agent should deploy their L8 resonator in the south slot.

When possible, deploy your strongest resonators in a hard-to-access place, such as a fenced private lot, over water, or inside a building (where GPS won’t work). Remember, you don’t need to physically stand there to deploy there; only the distance to the portal matters. The further away you can force enemy agents to stand from the resonator, the harder it will be for them to destroy.