Nokia N-Gage QD

Despite being based on technology that's two years' old (quite a feat considering the pace at which mobile handset technology develops), the N-Gage is still a worthy weapon of choice for dedicated mobile phone gamers. Yes, it's bigger and heavier than all but the most bulky of 3G handsets and yes, it's 4096-colour LCD screen is showing it's age when compared to the latest 65k models, but it's sheer user-friendliness when it comes to whiling away the odd half-hour with a game means it's still on top of its game. Considering that few other mobile phone handsets on the market have been designed for gaming, just talking and texting, that might not come as any surprise. But that the N-Gage so successfully merges the two – you really can use it is as an everyday mobile phone – is genuinely impressive.

Admittedly it took Nokia a second attempt to nail it. This, the N-Gage QD, is the second generation of the platform and was launched in the spring of 2004. Officially it's life ended in December 2005 as Nokia announced it was ceasing sales of the handset in Europe, but games continue to be released and an all-new N-Gage will emerge in the form of a new gaming smartphone in late 2006.

Still, compared to the first version of the N-Gage, the QD's controls are much easier to use, the sound and stereo speakers were beefed up and it's much more rugged than the first one. Access to the game card, upon which games come, has been made easier thanks to a slot on the bottom of the console (previously you had to remove the battery cover) but the excellently backlit (and large) screen, extremely capable 3D graphics processor and integrated Bluetooth needed no further polishing.

The MP3 player and FM tuner, which were extraneous, were dropped in the interest of weight and space-saving, while the battery life has been improved to 11 days' standby, 10 hours' gaming and 5 hours' talking. One cutback that we are sorry to see is the loss of the USB port; if you want to sync your N-Gage with your PC, you'll need to do it via Bluetooth. Overall, though, it's still a brilliant and under-appreciated piece of kit and, given you can find SIM-free models starting at around £100, it's no longer so wallet-stretchingly expensive.

Nokia N-Gage QD

If you want more from your mobile phone gaming, there's very little else that comes close