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Rating: 3.6 / 5.0 (9 votes)

Nokia N-Gage QD Gaming Phone (AT&T) by Nokia

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  • High-performance mobile 3D gaming
  • Bluetooth wireless technology
  • Hot swap MMC-card slot for external memory
  • Full email support (IMAP4, POP3, SMTP, MIME2)
  • 4096-color screen and backlight


Compatible with Cingular service, the Nokia N-Gage QD is a GSM phone and handheld gaming console rolled into one. The N-Gage QD features Bluetooth wireless connectivity, a hot-swap MMC-card slot for memory expansion and games, and a 36,600-pixel screen. Like all the latest Nokia phones, the N-Gage QD runs on a variant of the Symbian OS, which allows fast multitasking between game applications, phone calls, messaging and other functions. Users of the original will be delighted to know that the new N-Gage QD operates as a phone without the need for a headset; hold it to your ear and talk all you want. It's also smaller and more jeans-pocket-friendly than the original model.

The new N-Gage QD is smaller and more intelligently designed than its predecessor. Plus, inserting game cards is a snap.

Overall, we found the N-Gage QD a stunning successor to the original. Nokia has certainly listened to users and made improvements in all the right places. Barring a few quibbles, this new gaming phone is poised to make a real name for itself in the portable gaming space, something the original model was largely unable to do.

Calling and Multimedia
Gaming is the heart and soul of the N-Gage QD, but don't forget, it's also a powerful phone with the latest mobile Web, e-mail and messaging features. While we liked the ability to use it as a conventional handset, Bluetooth is built in, so going hands-free is easy with a Bluetooth-enabled headset. If you're not Bluetooth-inclined, there's also a jack for a wired headset. Like ringtones? You can get creative with polyphonic sounds that get you noticed in a crowd.

The N-Gage QD packs plenty of portable graphics firepower.

If you have GSM or GPRS data service, you can browse the wireless Web using the built-in browser. We found these features tricky to set up and the Nokia interface for these functions somewhat confusing, but once we got things going, we enjoyed downloading some game tips and tricks from The unit also serves as a wireless e-mail and messaging client with support for all the latest protocols (MMS, SMS, IMAP4, POP3, SMTP, and MIME2). We especially liked the Java-based expandability of the phone; with a data connection it’s fun to download new Java-based games and new game levels. You can also download productivity apps like calendars and planners.

With this iteration of the N-Gage, Nokia decided to drop the FM radio and MP3 player functions from the device. We think these would have been nice to retain, but Nokia was intent on making the N-Gage QD more exclusively focused on gaming. Nokia has retained multiplayer gaming via Bluetooth, so you can still go head-to-head with up to four players via a wireless connection.

Okay, the meat and potatoes. The Nokia N-Gage QD didn’t disappoint when it came to gaming performance on a handheld device. The redesigned controls are far more user-friendly than thosn of the classic N-Gage. Gone are the days of clumsily pushing the directional pad inward to make a selection; a separate selection button is now available. The newly placed slot for games and memory expansion cards is one of the biggest improvements, as users no longer have to remove the battery and cover to pop in a new game. The card slot is now easily accessible on the outside edge of the unit and is protected by a rubber cover.

Our test model came with Ashen, a three-dimensional first-person shooter set in a macabre, supernatural world. Creepy-crawly things were coming at us from all directions and we found ourselves pretty immersed in the game–quite amazing, given that the screen is a little smaller than a business card. Graphics were impressive, too, for such a small device that offers robust battery life (Nokia claims 10 hours of play time on a single charge).

We had some reservations about the number of currently available games for the N-Gage. Many are forthcoming, however, and Nokia has obviously made a serious commitment to improving the platform. The N-Gage QD is a clear and positive sign of what’s to come. –Joshua Gunn


  • Vastly improved design
  • Compact
  • Good portable graphics power
  • User-friendly controls
  • Robust phone features


  • MP3 and FM radio features dropped
  • Small library of available titles
  • Somewhat confusing user interface

What's in the Box:
The Nokia N-Gage QD unit, an AC charger, a dual mono headset, a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, a software CD-ROM, a games brochure


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