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Nokia N-Gage
(hx) 12:05 PM CEST - Oct,02 2003

Finland-based Nokia is an international telecommunications company operating in over 40 countries, with production operations in at least 15. The company supplies telecommunications systems and equipment for fixed and cell phone networks and is one of the leading suppliers of GSM-based digital cell networks. The Nokia N-Gage which is featured in this review is first serious attempt by a mobile phone maker to create a decent gaming platform, competing for the same market as Nintendo GBA. The Symbian - OS (with J2ME support) based wireless gaming console combines all the functionality of a mobile phone with the entertainment features of an embedded MP3 player, an FM Radio, and a much evolved game console. At the same time, it uses the GPRS service to achieve large download speeds for its Internet connectivity. Nokia's first portable gaming system is slated for release on October 7 of this year and will retail for $299. Let's start by first taking a look at what the N-Gage console is actually supposed to be:

Features (short list):

Phone: The Symbian - OS (with J2ME support), 3.4 MB internal external memory cards (32, 64 and 128 MB available separately), Multimedia messaging, Full email support (IMAP4, POP3, SMTP, MIME2), Content with XHTML browser, Tri-band EGSM 900/GSM1800/GSM 1900 phone, support for High-Speed Data: HSCSD up to 43.2 kilobits and GPRS up to 40.2 kilobits (Class B, 3 1, 2 2), Series 60 UI enabling application multitasking, MP3, AAC, MIDI, and WAV ringing tones, WAP over GPRS, Voice dialing, Built-in vibra feature (not used in games), IHF speaker for game sounds, game controls designed for two-hand use (5-way directional controller)

Display: Illuminated high-contrast, full-graphics color display (size 176 x 208 pixels), 4096 Colors (12-bit)

Special: Bluetooth wireless technology, Digital music player(MP3/AAC) and recorder (AAC), Music file download from PC via USB, Stereo FM radio

Software: Personal Information Management: Calendar, To-Do list, Contacts/Address book, Pinboard, Polyphonic Ringing Tones, Mono ringing tone composer- MP3, AAC, MIDI, and WAV ringing tones

Games: AAA-quality games $30-35 available on game cards (MMC): Marcel Desailly Pro Soccer, MLB Slam!, MotoGP,  NCAA Football 2004*, Pandemonium, Pathway to Glory*, Puyo Pop, Puzzle Bobble VS, Rayman 3, Red Faction, Sega Rally*, Sonic N, Super Monkey Ball, Taito Memories, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon*, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, Tomb Raider, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, Virtua Tennis  // *Titles available in 2004

Standard Sales Package: Transceiver, ACP-12 Charger, HDD-2 Stereo Headset, Short DKE-2 USB Cable, ADE-2 Recording Cable, ADA-2 Adapter Cable, BL-5C Li-Ion Battery, Booklet (including User's Guide and Warranty card), CD-ROM (with Nokia Audio Manager PC Software), Games brochure

Battery Life: Stand By Time ~150-200 hours,  Talk Time ~3-6 hours, Gaming Time ~3-6hours

Phone or gaming console?

The N-Gage is a compact device, noticeably smaller/lighter than the original GBA. N-Gage weighs 137 g / 4.83 ounces (with standard battery), with dimensions: 133,7 x 69.7 x 20,2 mm / 5.26 x 2.74 x .80 inches. Apart from its gaming features, the N-Gage is also a cell phone. It features a wide colour display (176x208 pixels) with the ability to display up to 4096 colors.  It supports all three current GSM networks (EGSM 900/GSM1800/GSM 1900), full SMS/MMS and email support, PIM applications and an integrated XHTML browser for wireless internet viewing as well as J2ME support. Unfortunately, N-Gage isn't much comfortable as cell-phone. To make phonecall, you must talk into the side of the phone that involves holding the top end of the device to your ear (the microphone and speaker are located where the "End the call button" is) so the flat side of the unit faces outward, which makes you look stupid, plus you won't feel much good, even comfortable. I think designers should more think next time. Well, Nokia is positioning the N-Gage as a gaming device, not like a cell phone capable of gaming. But maybe you should to know that the N-Gage won't work at all without a SIM card inserted, so you have to put some SIM card into the device.

Games and Gaming

N-Gage games come on interchangeable MMCs (tiny memory cards, around the size of a postage stamp), cost a hefty $30 to $40. There are currently available over 20 N-Gage games including MotoGP, Pandemonium, Rayman 3, Red Faction, Tomb Raider, THPS and Splinter Cell. To change games, you must power down the device, take the back cover off, remove the battery pack, slide out the existing game, put the new one in, put the battery back in, replace the back cover, and turn the system back on. This is an absolutely unforgivable design flaw. Can you imagine to swap cartridges in a bus or subway? Drop one on the floor, and you're probably going to spend your trip on your knees looking for it. The front of N-Gage is covered in all the navigation buttons a mobile phone needs. There's a navigation pad on the left (5-way directional controller) of the display and buttons on the right. Most of the buttons on the device can be configured to work in games as well. A lot of games do actually offer key configuration options, which is a nice touch on a system with this many buttons available to you. The extra buttons control the cellphone functions, Radio and the MP3 player. I must admit, that after playing with it for 30 minutes, I found the gaming buttons rather simple and intuitive. The action buttons (5 and 7 keys) on the number pad are colored red, and also pushed up more than others buttons so you can feel it with your fingers. I'd say that the controls are not problem, though if you press a wrong button while playing the game, you can simply jump out to the music player or FM radio with no quick way to get back to the game.

Tomb Raider Splinter Cell Red Faction Tony Hawk's Pro Skater

As I mentioned in N-Gage features, the device features Illuminated high-contrast, full-graphics color display with resolution 176 x 208 pixels and 4096 Colors. The display is clear, the backlighting is nice and bright, but the vertical screen is smaller than I would have liked. There seems to be a problem for most types of games. In addition, N-Gage does only 4,096 colors compared with many other phones which do 65,536 colors, even old good GBA supports 32768 colors. The display is a definite point where the N-Gage could loose out to competition.

The best feature of the N-Gage is probably the Bluetooth wireless mutiplayer gaming.Players must be less than 30 feet or so away from each other for the Bluetooth connection to work, but they can use this technology to experience lag-free multiplayer gaming without any wires attached. Imagine to play MotoGP multiplayer with your friends, yeah it's possible with N-Gage. Nokia also plans to launch a multiplayer gaming service called N-Gage Arena, which will allow users to access cheats and strategy guides for their games, compete for international high scores, and more.

MotoGP Rayman 3 Super Monkey Ball Virtua Tennis

The last my complaint about the N-Gage is its short battery life*. For gaming, the battery will last just three to six hours (rather only three) before it needs recharging. So, if you plan on doing a lot of traveling gaming, don't forget to buy another battery.For your information, for talking by phone, the battery will last four hours, for listening radio stations 20 hours, and for listening MP3s about 8 hours. Fortunately, a battery and A/C adapter come standard with the N-Gage.

*GBA = Battery Life 10 hours with backlight, 15-18 hours w/o backlight

MP3 player / FM Radio / PC Link

As I mentioned above, the N-Gage features shortcut buttons to the music player, FM Radio. I'd say that  both features worked fine. In order to use MP3 playback, you need a blank MMC card, in order to use FM Radio, you must plug-in supplied stereo headset into device. Of course, the MP3 player and FM radio sound much better through normal stereo headphones than with the supplied stereo headset. From the manual I've noticed that the most music management is meant to be done through Nokia's PC link software. Songs can be transferred from the PC to the N-Gage using a USB connection or the phone's integrated Bluetooth link. You can also share information between a compatible PC and the phone, install software on the phone, configure phone settings, make backups of phone files, synchronize calendar, contacts, and To-Do list. With Modem Setup installed on your compatible PC, you can use your Nokia N-Gage game deck as a modem for PC access to the Internet. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get that working due some USB problems, but Nokia's guy told me it's already fixed in the final version of the device.


  • MP3 player/recorder, FM radio
  • Built-in Bluetooth enables head-to-head lag-free multiplayer action
  • Symbian 60 operating system -  runs J2ME and of course, native symbian games
  • USB interface Nokia's PC Link Software
  • some nice games (MotoGP, Pandemonium, Red Faction, Super Monkey Ball, Splinter Cell, Tomb Raider)


  • Bad design
  • Only 4096 colors (it can be problem in some games like Tetris)
  • Battery Life - only 3-6 hours for gaming
  • High price - $299.99
  • Requires SIM card for running
  • In order to use MP3 playback, you need a blank MMC card
  • Expensive games on MMC ~ $30-$35
  • Long loading times
  • Too short USB cabel (0.75m)

Overall, there's one problem: price  - $299.99. If you want gaming console with more than 700 games available, you can buy a GBA SP for $100. Honestly, for me is N-Gage too expensive/useless toy. I already own some shitty cell phone and for games I'd rather buy GBA SP, Zodiac, or wait for Sony PSP. But if you look at it as a hybrid device with gaming console, cell phone and MP3 player then it looks very cool, especially for those who love gadgets. I bet many teenagers will buy it anyway, especially if it stops them from getting bored when sat in a packed bus on the way to school.

I'd like to thank Tiscali Games for the review sample.

release: October 2003
developer: Nokia
publisher: N-Gage homepage

last 10 comments:

magaposted - Oct, 02 2003 - 16:31
hx, is it *YOUR* hand on those pics ? :)

nopeposted - Oct, 02 2003 - 17:51
2 bad I'm right handed

JSoloposted - Oct, 02 2003 - 17:58
The Zodiac is even more pricey and lacks the cell phone features of the NGage. Personally, I don't even think it is worth mentioning especially since it has no major game companies backing it. Sure, there is talk from their marketing folks, but beyond the hype, another useless Palm device with nothing to back it up. Personally, I am holding out for the PSP which is basically going to be The Handheld to own when it is released. At least Nokia gave it a try, even though it is destined to fail.

rkoposted - Oct, 02 2003 - 18:00
star wars hologram... reality

hxposted - Oct, 02 2003 - 21:00
solo: Titles for Zodiac: Doom II, Duke Nukem Mobile a Neverwinter Nights. I forgot to mention it in the review.

zposted - Oct, 04 2003 - 00:30
n-gage sux big time Only PSP will beat GBA

Sonyblowsposted - Oct, 04 2003 - 21:09
PSP = Too late.

GoldenBearposted - Oct, 05 2003 - 01:50
PSP will probably be powerful like N-Gage. The only problem is this. Look at all other mini-optical disc based products: Mini-CD camera's, mini-DVD camcorders. They are all fairly big and heavy. Being big and heavy does not qualify you as a hand-held. Also, battery life suffers on those devices. And it's supposed to play mp3s and have 5.1 surround and and and and.....battery is gonna last you 1/2 hour

Shortyposted - Oct, 05 2003 - 19:27
really awsome uv started to review hardware hx. :) i'm thinking of buying one after i read this. Peace, Shorty

zposted - Oct, 05 2003 - 21:57
n-gage powerful?? LOL re-read this: Display: Illuminated high-contrast, full-graphics color display (size 176 x 208 pixels), 4096 Colors (12-bit) Ngage is shit, worse than a snes. Psp will be as powerful as a PSOne. It will sink shitty ngage and gba.

boodogposted - Oct, 12 2003 - 18:08
Oh wow...I really was looking forward to getting one of these. BUT, having to remove the battery to insert a new game? WTF? heh. My GBA has a bit better graphics, and with some minor hacks it can be 'net bound. Although I'm sure Nokia is paying attention to what ppl are saying and already have an N'Gauge 2 on the way that fixes this major design problem. Then it may be worth looking at.

Aposted - Oct, 21 2003 - 11:10
...... the DKE-cable cannot work. Connection still got problem. In the disk supplied have no driver for the DKE-2 cable at all. My 3650, 6100 and 6610 does not give me any problems at all. NOKIA, can you resolve this problem?

Titoposted - Nov, 06 2003 - 11:00
Actually the N-Gage has a 32bit 104mhz CPU, well more advanced than the SNES's CPU and even the PS1's 32bit 33mhz CPU. But the PS1 have a graphics sub system and the N-Gage doesn't. As for the problem with the DKE cable that kee was refering to, I don't know how to fix it but you say that your 3650 doesn't have a problem with it... N-Gage = 3650 as far as internals BUT the 3650 doesn't have a cable connection. Instead it has both the bluetooth and a infrared.

tacoposted - Nov, 08 2003 - 01:56
i have an n-gage, and you detractors all suck. who gives a f*ck about the gba having longer battery life and a bigger screen, and i wouldnt carry it around in addition to my mobile phone anyway, and it does not have the power of the n-gage anyway. people like me also dont really mind the cart change, I dont change carts every 5 minutes like some kid with a short attention span, and besides it takes me less than a minute to change the card. and everyone is forgetting, this is a series 60 symbian based phone (hence the screen size), so thus it has endless possibilites that your preciuos gba and psp can never deliver

tomposted - Nov, 26 2003 - 18:10
iv got an ngage, the btry life is fyne. when will they get a camera. its so gay, has any 1 managed 2 set up the mms settings. has any 1 got cheats 4 thps im stuck and cant get furthere than the "streets" level. how come the memory chips havnt cum out yet, and how come the 1s that came wid de phone only have 30 meg.

wankerposted - Nov, 26 2003 - 18:14
im left handed so it is so hard 2 use. but part from dat its sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo cool!!1

Mr.R.Soleposted - Jan, 05 2004 - 06:44
a clone of the gameboy advance.stop coppying other peoples ideas and just adding a small fraction of your idea!

2pac shakurposted - Jan, 29 2004 - 22:02
you people don't know nothing about the n-gage it is the best thing on earth so dont fuck about and that PSP is shit i wipe my ass with it

meposted - Feb, 16 2004 - 08:55
I want to ask you.. guys... NGage good or suck. thanks

anti n-gage -Gibran-posted - Feb, 21 2004 - 08:04
This damn phone is a real shit. It is super mega extremelly sucks....!!!

wHiIzZposted - Mar, 15 2004 - 22:05
hey hey, I just got an N-gage and yes it's cool. the word missed in all these comments is 'Flexibility'. Very few Mp3 players have a long battery life. One thing with this, u can never get bored !

nickposted - Apr, 22 2004 - 17:07
i'm a complete n-gage fan.that's probably the best phone ever!and it's even more useful than it seems.yes,i know the major graphic problem-4096c but who gives a hack bout that as long as u can carry with u mp3 player,game console and Video player at once?besides there is a plenty of games designed for n-gage.i've tried one or two.they're far from the high-quality graphics we're usually used to but they're still worth playing:)

Lin-assposted - Apr, 25 2004 - 21:11
i have 5 n'gages and i like it :)

youwishposted - Apr, 30 2004 - 21:33
Wow, what a bunch of dipshits you all are. Getting so worked up about a lame-ass gadget like this. Get lives people...

Mohposted - May, 02 2004 - 15:13
I want to buy am N*gage but i'm not shure if it worth the money! One question, how many mp3 songs can you fit in it and is it easy to do it? I have looked at pictures of the N*gage and i was wondering were the HELL do you speak and hear when your using the mobile??????? Tnx!

SHUTUP!!posted - May, 08 2004 - 07:21
Seriously BEST fone eva, all u peeple diss'n the N Gage. WAT RTE DO U HAVE. u dont even own it, sure u tallk big but u know nothing. The battery life is great and so what if the u have ta turn off da fone. WOW!! 1 min to change a game. And u can also, if u reali hate changin times, get the Java games. Battery life is good, last me ages. AND seein as i have a 128mb card i can store HEAPS of song (the number of MB's equals minutes of GOOD quility music eg. 64 mbs = 64 mins of music) So unless u get an N gage STOP BLOODY BAGG"N THE GRREEAATT FONE!! PS PSP, zodiac, snes and GBA all suk compared to the N Gage, i actualli noe

GTherionposted - May, 17 2004 - 01:10
who would give 300e for a machine this hybrid machine? its kind of an mp3 player, kind of a phone, kind of a video game console, its a bunch of shit.I have used it for many hours and its UGLY

kkposted - Apr, 05 2005 - 19:19
my ngage wont charge or does it charge when the word nokia blinksm because it goes on but doesny do nuthin

erkiposted - Jul, 02 2005 - 16:28
n-gage RULES.I have a lot of n-gage programs like anti virus full ver. and a lot of other programs. are some1 know where i can have some new programs .some webs or other

mobile-guruposted - Oct, 28 2005 - 18:18
You guyz are crazy! the ngage rocks it beats the gba big time, you cannot compare it with a gba, the only prob is lack of games. The graphics is awesome have you ever played games like asphalt urban gt or colin mccrae rally? Compare those with car games on a gba. So the nagge beats the gba in terms of games, the only prob with the nagge is lack of games, the gba has alot more but who cares? Plus on the ngage i can brows the net fully via browsers like opera or netfront, I can play gameboy and snes even sega games via emulator, I can view powerpoint, msword and excell files, I can watch dvd rip movies via softwarez like smart movie or dvd play. The ngage produces ps1 graphics with even a 133 mhz processor what mnore could you ask for in a mobile gaming console? (The only thing better is the psp) which outclasses its graphics.

guzziposted - Mar, 04 2006 - 19:10
can anybody give me an exact link to download nokia n-gage software free plzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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