N-Gage QD

The original N-Gage was such an easy hit. We'd like to officially thank Nokia for the slow pitch, providing us with month and months of fodder. This week, the N-Gage QD comes out, and since the 7700 has been cancelled, we have no more excuses for jokes about sidetalkin'.  For all our jokes and insults, it's not not Nokia or even the idea of a gaming phone we were hating on, just that ugly grey and purple taco. Sometime between today and Wednesday, the QD will hit your local game store and Cingular outlets and believe it or not, you should really consider picking one up if you've been thinking about a new phone, especially if you've been dreaming about a smartphone.

Let's face it, smartphones are cool, but as a rule they don't come cheap in North America. The ones that are cheap, like Nokia's 36XX series, are all pretty ugly too. The QD is a slick looking little smartphone, capable of running all the Series 60 applications that the 36XX phones and others can run (like the beloved Opera web browser), as well as all the N-Gage games. There aren't many N-Gage games when compared to the venerable GameBoy Advance, but there are enough to keep you entertained. There's also a few groundbreaking titles coming out like Pocket Kingdom, the first MMORPG for a phone. And now when you get bored of a game, you don't have to take the whole phone apart just to switch to a new one.

The N-gage QD isn't for everyone, but it's a good choice for a number of people. What kind of people? That becomes clear as we look at the QD's features…

Like any combination device, the N-Gage QD is full of compromises. First, unlike other entertainment-centric phones, it lacks a Radio, music player, or stereo headset. If you'd rather listen to your iPod anyway, you'll never notice so keep reading. Second, the QD sold here will only work in North America, it is not a world phone. If you travel abroad often and only want to use one handset, you should consider one of the world-band travel friendly smartphones out there. Actually there are two more due out in the US next week - the Nokia 6620 and 7610b, so it would be wise to wait. They both run a newer version of the Series 60 OS and have cameras. Which brings us to the QD's other weakness - no camera, not even a camera attachment.

What the QD does offer is Bluetooth for syncing and headsets, a large software library including plenty of emulators to play other game ROMs (including GameBoy), a small game-centric phone (that's also easy to text on), and the usual Nokia pluses and minuses.

The question becomes what devices do you want/have to carry with you. Like all smartphones, the N-Gage QD will also work as your PDA. And if you already carry your iPod with you everywhere, and we assume you do, you'll never miss the lack of music playback. But while most other smartphones have a camera (even if they're mediocre), the QD forgoes it for gaming angle. So if you don't care about playing games your answer is pretty obvious. Wait for next week and choose between a plethora of US-friendly smartphones. Otherwise you have to choose: would you rather carry a camera or a GBA?

If you won't miss the camera, the price is right. How can you regret spending less than a night out in Vegas, if only for the chance to play Pocket Kingdom or the Sims while you're waiting in line to use the bathroom at the too-crowded clubs you find yourself in all too often?

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