The N-Gage QD was Nokia's successor to the N-Gage and was released six months after the first N-Gage, placing it in 2004. It revised the device's physical design, being smaller and rounder. It corrected the previous perceived 'flaw' of the cartridge slot with a more convenient one on the bottom of the device. This design also moved the speaker and microphone to the face of the device, rather than on the side, as in the previous model. Despite the revision, many were quick to criticize the unit, just as they did the original N-Gage. Some noted that the rubber fitting side that closed the gap between the device top and bottom casing could be easily loosened over a few months if it was dropped regularly, although this was hardly a recommended practice in taking care of the unit. Once the rubber piece was removed, the device became more vulnerable to water or particles entering the internals unless the fitting was replaced. The fitting was available at Nokia's service centers, and was also available in a variety of colors through various third-party sellers via online electronics suppliers or eBay.
The device retailed at a lower price, further aided by the fact that it was generally sold with a pre-paid cell phone service contract and the corresponding subsidy. In the United States, the N-Gage QD was available as a prepaid phone offered by Cingular for $99.99 at retail games stores such as Electronics Boutique and GameStop. This is no longer the case as the device has reached the end of its lifespan and the above mentioned stores have discontinued carrying the QD.
Some of the 'bulky' features of the system such as MP3 playback, FM radio reception, and USB connectivity were removed from the device, presumably to cut size and cost. The QD did not support MP3 internally; however, it could still play MP3s with third-party software, albeit only in 16 kHz mono. The audio output was a Nokia mono earpiece (with microphone) instead.
Instead of using the N-Gage with generic USB removable drive drivers, a user would use either Bluetooth or a separate MMC card reader to transfer files (for example, pictures, movies, or mp3s) onto an MMC card for use in the N-Gage QD.
Another change from the original unit was the "Orange-and-grey" theme of the face of the unit as well as the GUI. Some felt this was an unwanted change from the 'more colorful' GUI of the original N-Gage. Even then there were some third-party applications that enhanced the interface or replaced the system shell.
As for the telephone portion, it no longer supported the three GSM frequency bands 900/1800/1900; instead it came in two dualband variants, one for the American market and one for the European and Asian markets.
The rest of the N-Gage QD hardware specifications were otherwise the same as the original N-Gage; same vertical screen layout, button configuration, etc.
Hardware specifications: Weight: 143 g, dimensions: 118 x 68 x 22 mm.
N-Gage QD Silver Edition
Announced in August 2005, the N-Gage QD Silver Edition could be seen as an exercise in extending the life of the N-Gage product range while new N-Gage devices were developed and the N-Gage gaming range was integrated into the mainstream Series 60 product range. Apart from cosmetic changes and the replacement of the two specialist gaming buttons (5 and 7) with standard keys, there was no difference in the N-Gage QD Silver Edition to the regular N-Gage QD.
It was made available in the European, Middle Eastern, and African markets on September 1, 2005.
Demos and games
Before the launch of Nokia's first in-house N-Gage title, Pathway to Glory, a one level demo of the game was released to journalists to allow them to sample the game, and understand the concepts behind the turn based wargame. This demo was subsequently placed on the N-Gage.com website as a free download. Undaunted by the 16mb download size, fans jumped on the Pathway to Glory demo. The success of this demo probably led to both the sales success of Pathway to Glory, and proved to Nokia that this was a valid marketing route for future titles.
There are fifty seven full titles available for N-Gage. All but two of these titles (Snakes and Payload) were available on MMC. A selection can now be downloaded via the Nokia Game Shop. These are:
- Ashen (Available for download)
- Asphalt Urban GT
- Asphalt Urban GT 2
- Atari Masterpieces Vol. I
- Atari Masterpieces Vol. II
- Call of Duty
- Colin McRae Rally 2005
- Crash Nitro Kart
- FIFA Football 2004
- FIFA Football 2005
- Flo Boarding (Europe only)
- Glimmerati (Available for download)
- High Seize (Available for download)
- King of Fighters EXTREME
- Marcel Desailly Pro Soccer
- Mile High Pinball (Available for download)
- MLB Slam
- Moto GP
- NCAA Football 2004
- ONE (Available for download)
- Operation Shadow (Available for download)
- Pathway to Glory (Available for download)
- Pathway to Glory: Ikusa Islands
- Payload (Available for download)
- Pocket Kingdom
- Puyo Pop
- Puzzle Bobble VS
- Rayman 3
- Red Faction
- Requiem of Hell (Available for download)
- Rifts: Promise of Power
- Sega Rally
- Sonic N
- Spider-Man 2
- SSX: Out of Bounds
- Super Monkey Ball
- System Rush
- The Elder Scrolls Travels: Shadowkey
- The Roots: Gates of Chaos
- The Sims Bustin' out
- Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004
- Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Jungle Storm
- Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
- Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Team Stealth Action
- Tomb Raider
- Tony Hawk's Pro Skater
- Virtua Tennis
- Virtua Cop
- Warhammer 40,000
- Worms World Party
- WWE Aftershock
- Xanadu Next
- X-Men Legends
- X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse
Hailed as one of the best games on the N-Gage when released in January 2005, Snakes saw Nokia take an innovative route to promoting the N-Gage platform. Likely spurred on by the success of the demonstration versions, the full version of Snakes was made available online. It also featured an option that allowed the game to copy itself to another N-Gage unit using bluetooth as the carrier.
At E3 2005, Nokia announced their intention to make it possible to play games on their next wave of smartphones. (At E3, games were demonstrated on the Nokia 3230, 6680, Nokia 6630, and N90, but Nokia has not yet announced what phones will be compatible with this as-of-yet unnamed service). These phones won't be compatible with the games sold on MMC in stores, but will be able to download games over the cellular network, or play games downloaded on your computer. All of the details of this scheme have not yet been stated, but this network/scheme is expected for mid 2007.
During E3 2006 there were a number of announcements related to Nokia’s next generation mobile games strategy which continued to stress gameplay across a range of Nokia cellphones, rather than one particular 'gaming handheld', as before.
The company explained the core of the service as "...a pre-installed application which allows consumers to easily find, buy and play rich and immersive games on a range of Nokia Nseries multimedia computers and other Nokia S60 devices."
Nokia also announced that gaming communities, in a similar vein to Xbox Live, are another key element of the company's mobile gaming strategy. At the base of this it cited its already existing N-Gage Arena.
Nokia also announced deals with Electronic Arts and Gameloft and six new titles including, fishing sim Creatures of the Deep a follow up to its first party fighting game ONE, with ONE: Who’s Next? and System Rush: Evolution.
System Rush Evolution is now included as standard on the Nokia N93 and a version of ONE: Who’s Next? was demonstrated on the Nokia N93 during E3 2006 as well, both games demonstrate improved graphics.
Since E3 2006 Nokia has been relatively quiet. However, recently it announced findings of a study on mobile gaming behavior carried out by Nielsen research.
In December 2006, Nokia launched the Future Watch website to track the evolution of the next generation of the N-Gage platform. According to the site, the launch date for the next generation of the N-Gage experience is mid 2007.
On January 30th 2007, mobile games specialist website reported that Pocket Gamer was briefing leading games developers and publishers in secret workshops ahead of the launch of the next gen N-Gage.