The N-Gage QD was an upgrade to the original N-Gage device addressing many of the shortcomings of the original product. Notable amongst these was the end of so-called “side-talking” allowing users to hold the phone to their ear in a more traditional manner. It was also possible to change the game without removing the battery and the keys were easier to depress and better suited to gaming.
A further enhancement to the keys was the decision to separate the "click" function from the four-way navigation pad to a separate "ok" button to improve gaming ergonomics and reduce the risk of false "clicks" when a player merely trying to move in a particular direction.
Nokia also reduced some of the features on the device. It was no longer a tri-band product (two dual band variant were offered for Europe / Asia and the US), it lacked USB connectivity and did not have an FM radio built into the hardware. Like it predecessor it used the Symbian operating system.
The N-Gage QD initially shipped with an orange and silver keypad. An updated variant was announced in August 2005 which was known as the “Silver Edition”.
When the product was launched, spokespeople briefing on the device were told that ‘QD’ was merely a marketing term and did not stand for anything. However, we have subsequently learned that 'QD' could also relate to the the shape of the device keypads. On the left you have the circular up / down / left / right controller and the "OK" button which make the "Q" shape, and the numeric keys to the right of the display make the "D" shape. Once you are aware of this it is quite noticeable.
We have also learned that Nokia worked with Lexicon Branding, a company that specialises in product names, to help define the naming conventions for the N-Gage . The team looked at many different approaches to naming future generations and variants of the N-Gage franchise.
Nokia was keen to make it clear that the N-Gage QD was not a direct successor to the original N-Gage, but was also nervous about highlighting the improvements over the original N-Gage causing disappointment for existing owners.
On this basis, it was felt that an abstract approach was the best way forward. QD provided a product name consumers could talk about, but without taking attention away from the main brand. Nokia felt that a name, for example N-Gage Jupiter, would have been too different.
It seems that arbitrary letter combinations were evaluated for their phonetic attractiveness and memorability, and QD was considered “both fast and advanced”, but also appropriate to the cuter shape (QD sounds like ‘cutie’).
Interestingly there was a third N-Gage device planned which included a camera and would been called the N-Gage IC (denoting ‘I see’ & integrated camera). This unit would also have had a larger internal memory, going from 4MB on the N-Gage QD, to 8MB on the N-Gage IC. The pictures below are used with the permission of Timo Weirich who is lucky enough to have an N-Gage IC in his personal collection. More details can be found here