Although it was announced some time ago, EB Games will soon become the first retailer to stock the N-Gage QD for $99
(€77 or £52) on their website (and presumably in their physical stores too). It has a release date of the 16th of April. Unlike previous special offers where you had to sign up for a phone service, it appears that this time $99 really is the price of the QD. You go into the shop with $99, you come out with a QD and nothing else to pay, ever.
(At this point, All About N-Gage
should warn people outside North America about buying QDs on import. Unlike the original N-Gage, the N-Gage QD is not a tri-band world phone so generally speaking it won't work outside the continent it's been sold on.)
The $99 QD is being supplied on a "prepaid" plan, so if people want to make calls or use the internet, they just buy talktime whenever it suits them. This would be ideal for people who don't want to commit themselves to long expensive contracts before they've tried the N-Gage out, and it's possible to use a contract-free N-Gage without paying any charges at all: offline when you're on the move and online when you're at home (through a PC using bluetooth). You can even receive calls and texts for free if you buy a small amount of talk time and leave it unused to keep your account open.
$99 is an incredibly low price, and it will be interesting to see how it affects sales. It'll also be interesting to see how many people buy it primarily for the games. Even if you ignore the games, this is a very low price indeed for a smartphone, and in almost any category of functionality (gaming, movies, audio, phone calls, PDA functions, web browsing, email, instant messaging etc) it's hard to find any dedicated devices at a lower price, let alone a single device with all of those functions.
Hopefully this price drop will be repeated outside North America...