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Hardware Mobile

Sidetalking makes a (slight) comeback

“I CAN’T HEAR YOU! I’VE GOT A CONTROLLER IN MY EAR!!!”

While getting groceries, I saw this endcap for cotton candy-flavored energy drink. The “XBox controller as phone” pose is silly, but it also reminded me of a phone I’d wanted way back in the early 2000s: the Nokia N-Gage.

The Nokia N-Gage. Tap to view at full size.

Released in 2003 (in the pre-smartphone era, back when mobile phones sported a lot of dedicated buttons), the N-Gage was a phone-meets-handheld gaming device. IGN summed it up best as “a bad console filled with bad games,” and it didn’t help that the speaker and microphone were mounted on its side. In order to use it as a phone, you’d have to hold it like this — a position that would come to be known as sidetalking:

Sidetalking looked silly, so soon there were sidetalking photos featuring people using the N-Gage while making silly faces…

…followed by people ditching the N-Gage altogether and opting to take sidetalking photos with any old electronic thing, turning it into a full-blown meme:

I even got on the fun, using my device of choice:

In case you’re wondering, I’m not really pining for the N-Gage anymore. My iPhone 13 Pro is a decent gaming phone, and on the Android side, I’ve got a Nubia Redmagic 6R that plays Genshin Impact rather nicely.

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