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Nokia N-Gage (Mobile phone)
Nokia N-Gage is mobile phone developed by Nokia, intended for gamers who like to have the all in one solutions and are tired to wear at once two gadgets in them - mobile phone for talking and handheld console for gaming. Being a great mobile phone manufacturer, Nokia decided to try at this unexplored by them territory and directly compete with the well known established player - Nintendo, which GameBoy consoles were selling very good but lacked that cool phone ability. Released in 2003 it had good specifications for pocket device but weak marketing, combined with the competition from Nintendo and the poor design, made the phone one of the worst selling Nokia products ever.
The N-Gage made its debut and then almost flopped, but I was still interested in gaming console and mobile phone at one. Remembering the time when I had a pocket hand held and Game Gear, I used to be very happy with portable gaming device, especially when the laptops weren't widespread as they are now. The phone is very hard to find at shops but I didn't want to pay full price either. On December 13, 2005 I went to pawn shop and bought one for 180.00 BGN without box and manual but with one game on 32MB MMC, power adapter and USB cable. The power adapter did not work but there was no guarantee from the pawn shop so I had to buy new adaptor for 15.00 BGN from the Handy shop and then bought prepaid package for 9.90 BGN and off I was ready to use my new acquisition.
The size of the phone is 12.5 cm wide at the top part and 13.37 cm wide at the lower part, 7 cm tall at the center and 2 cm thick with semi-oval, unusual for a phone form:
The phone itself is not heavy and nicely fits in most pockets, and is easy to wear, even when biking. The condition was not excellent. It had some scratches and also small cracks but works flawlessly. It was a green version with the classic look and view. I had a look for new panels in order to replace the look but was unable to find any in the several shops I asked. The front part of the phone have the LCD display at the center. On the left of the display is the green button for picking up conversations, under which is the keypad with the cursor keys and under it are three buttons - first for music player and notes sign, second for the radio player with radio sign and the third button is the Symbian button with the Symbian logo on it. Under the three buttons are the clear and left selection buttons. To the right of the display is the hang off button the standard numeric phone keypad and under the keypad are the right selection and the pencil buttons. On the screen, although small, the written text and graphics are easy to read and distinguish.
At the lower-left side are the jacks for the headphones and the microphone hole. Popular myth is that because of the unusual placement of the microphone, you have to do side-talking, which was never necessary when I talk.
But I was never on the other side to hear how is it with and without side-talking, so it is hard to say if side-talking improves the sound for the listener. On the left side of the phone are the connectors for the power adaptor and the USB cable and on the right is the power button which have to be pressed for some seconds to start the device. On the back of the phone is a wide black button, which when pushed makes the removal of the back panel very easy. Once opened, the battery, the SIM card slot and the memory card slots are seen. To replace the memory card or the SIM card, the battery have to be removed from the slot which makes replacement of these an unwanted process. That's why first I bought 512MB MMC pqi card and later 1 GB MMC+ pqi card so I would not need to replace it for installing new software or adding mp3 songs.
Once started, an input PIN code screen appears and after the N-Gage splash animation is shown. Then prompts for the current date and time, which were not stored and I have to reenter them every time when I remove the battery. The phone have a
small battery inside for the time, but obviously it was not working. After the startup is shown the standard Nokia phone screen. On the top is the information bar.
On the left on the information bar is the strenght of the network coverage, next to it the time, the mobile operator, the date and on the right is charge of the battery. Under the information bar is the wallpaper which is easily changed
and on the bottom are the two menus -
The more important buttons are on the left side of the display. The music button activates the music player which plays music from the memory card. If no memory card is inserted a message appears
At the top left part in the menu is the
The Nokia N-Gage uses the proprietary Symbian OS v6.1 making all the available software for the S60 series Nokia phones running on it. The color screen with 4096 colors makes more sophisticated games available and the powerful ARM processor runs all them at decent
speed. Many tools, applications and games are available and easily installable. First application I installed is the file manager. I used it for transferring, deleting and moving files from and to the memory card, the built-in memory in the phone and with other devices.
Second application I installed was
Emulators and games are not the only available software for the N-Gage. There is software for everything else - from applications for messaging, image processing, editing and everything else, to web browsers and e-mail clients. Wide software library is available and downloadable from the Internet and then the problem is finding the right application. Risk is that a software may contain a virus, some viruses being nasty and sending messages to random numbers and costing you money. I never had virus problem, but for security and battery save reasons, the bluetooth was always off. Freeware and shareware games are also available for download. I have downloaded many games for testing and some of them were addictive.
Despite having wide range of software available and many great games, I did not use the phone neither for productivity, messaging or gaming. Main reasons stopping me from doing anything other on the phone than talking, was the fast battery drainage. With the better games or more demanding emulators the phone was useful only for maximum 4 hours play, then have to be recharged. I have tried with spare battery but setting the date and time every time, made me forget that option. Wearing with me a spare adaptor was also not an option, because it is not possible to use it everywhere and it is big. Reducing the power of the backlight, using only one app at a time and lowering down the volume of the sound or even turning it off, did not improve the situation. When playing some games, an user input may be not needed for some time, but then the backlight turns off, which instinctively makes you to press some key, which may cost a life in some games. The phone is hard to use for outside the phone part of it. The lack of WiFi was the stopping point for me to use it for browsing. Web browsers are available for Symbian OS, but on the N-Gage I have to pay the expensive Internet bills of the provider, which I rejected. If it had Wi-Fi, I would be able to use it at pubs, home and everywhere else where WiFi Internet is available for use. But it has only BlueTooth connectivity. With Symbian MP3 player I have solved the problem with the media player, which was not possible to use without headphones, but the radio was unavailable to start without headphones, even if then you can set it to loudspeaker and listen to it. The phone easily connects to my Amiga via the USB cable, but is useful only for downloading files from the phone. Writing files to the phone makes the N-Gage show the WSOD (White Screen of Dead) and crash for unknown and not solved reasons. The volume and vibrations sometimes are not strong enough and it is hard to notice a call in a noisy city environment. And the phone developed a sure ritual after getting back home - first thing was to connect the phone to the power adaptor, then the rest.
Even with all the issues with the phone I decided to keep it and used it for more than two years. This was my first mobile phone to ever own, but I did not attach any sentiments to it. It served me modestly as a phone and modestly as a gaming platform. After I bought the Toshibo V9+i mobile phone I took the SIM card from the N-Gage and inserted it in the Toshibo, I almost forgot about the N-Gage for some weeks. Later I decided to turn it on and play some games and test emulators. To my bad surprise the phone did not start without SIM card with error message to insert a SIM card. So the phone even if advertised and sold as a gaming device, was useless without the phone part. I must buy a SIM card to be able to use it, which means more money spent on the toy. I did not buy new card. Later I found an used prepaid card, which I entered at least to be able to use it, but I am unable to format the Memory Card, because of the WSOD appearing when going to the Memory menu. There are wide range of new software and compilers available for Symbian, but the N-Gage have no TV output to look at it on the big screen while I keep it only at home now. The model I have is now discontinued in favour of the Nokia N-Gage QD, which have many of the problems solved and longer battery life. Nokia for sure is very good phone manufacturer and makes good phones, no doubt about it. As a console manufacturer, Nokia have to develop and research much more and more deeply, to be able to compete with the other players on the mobile gaming devices front.
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