We've waited a long, long time
for the Nokia N-Gage. Nokia first announced their innovative
handset, the result of a joint venture with Sega way
back in November 2002, so it's taken nearly a year for
the unit to come to market. Well, it's a good phone,
but technology has moved on a little since last year.
In technical terms, the N-Gage measures 134mm
x 70mm x 20mm making it almost exactly the same size
as a £5 or €20 note (just a lot thicker). The weight
is 137g, about the same as any other large mobile phone.
The N-Gage has a large screen, measuring 208 pixels
high by 176 pixels across, about which is more than
twice the pixels of a standard Nokia running at 128x128
pixels. The graphics are nicely backlit and optimised
for 3D games.
There's a five-way directional key on the left of
the N-Gage, with the standard number keys placed on
the right doubling as game keys. It also has some
supplementary keys for music control and the in-built
Of course, the Nokia N-Gage is being pitched mainly
as a games deck, but it's a good music platform
too. It supports many different formats, including
AAC and MP3, and also it has a built-in FM radio.
The standard 3.4Mb is too small for serious MP3 playback
though, but you can buy a 64Mb or 128Mb expansion card,
holding roughly one or two CDs worth of good-quality
Games can be played against other players, either
over GPRS or Bluetooth within 5 metres. The N-Gage can
only be used with a SIM card installed however, so it
can't be used just as a Bluetooth games console, which
is a pity.
There are a whole wealth of games available
for the N-Gage platform. Indeed, Nokia are so committed
to the success of the unit that they bought up
Sega in order to ensure a wide variety of games from
one of the leading names in the industry. Games include
Tomb Raider, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, Red Faction, Sega
Rally and many more available at launch and in the pipeline.
A key selling point of the N-Gage is that games can
be played against other N-Gage owners.
The N-Gage is more than just a games and music
platform. It's a tri-band handset, working
pretty much anywhere in the world where's there's a
GSM network, it supports WAP over GPRS and HSCSD and
has a XHTML web browser, plus email support. The
phone connects to a PC using a USB cable or via Bluetooth.
Battery life is fairly good for a device of
this type. When used as a phone it has 2-4 hours talk
time and 6-8 days standby time. It can be used as a
radio for up to 20 hours, play back music for up to
6 hours and be used as a games console for 3-6 hours.
Recharge time is a little over an hour and a half.