QWERTY-toting N-Gage handset on the way?

But leaked Nokia roadmap makes us worry too

QWERTY-toting N-Gage handset on the way?

A leaked roadmap of Nokia's upcoming smartphones makes fascinating reading for N-Gage fans, for both positive and negative reasons.

The roadmap was published on tech blog Engadget yesterday, and has a big list of smart phones with their code names and feature lists, as well as the date of their 'prototype availability'.

One of them, codenamed Madeleine, is the one that's interesting from a mobile gaming point of view. Its features include "N-Gage support with gaming keys", as well as "Side-sliding QWERTY, wi-fi, Bluetooth, FM Radio, VoIP, GPS, 3.2MP camera".

Its prototype availability date is the 13th week of 2009 (i.e. March).

We're usually cautious about anonymous leaks of this kind, but something Nokia said at its recent Nokia Games Summit backs up the idea that Madeleine is kosher.

In a presentation on the second day of the Summit, Nokia's Jaakko Kaidesoja said that support for QWERTY keyboards would be introduced to the N-Gage software development kit (SDK) in the second quarter of 2009 - which would tie in nicely with the availability of the Madeleine prototype.

However, the worrying thing about the roadmap on Engadget is that Madeleine is the only handset listed that mentions N-Gage.

Don't get too fretful though: in his presentation, Kaidesoja also said that there'll be around eight new N-Gage capable handsets out in the first half of 2009.

If the leaked roadmap is true (sorry to keep saying this, but we're nothing if not cautious), one handset we'd love to see N-Gage inside is codenamed Eitri.

Check the feature list: "Landscape candybar with QWERTY, 3.5-inch 640x350 display, minimum 8GB ROM, microSD, pressure sensitive touch UI with tactile feedback and gestures, charging via USB, 5MP AF camera with dual LED flash, integrated compass and accelerometer, proximity sensor, FM transmitter".

Cor! Rest assured, we'll be bringing you official news of all new N-Gage handsets as Nokia announces them.