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I am not sure, but in some situation both seem to mean the same thing. Is it? I feel "thinking" implies that you are doing it now so "while" is redundant. If that's the case, why would you use "while"?

For example:

He was laughing while thinking at the things you said yesterday.

He was laughing thinking at the things you said yesterday.

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The first one is more grammatical. It separates both actions to make it clearer.

The second one is a little bit informal.

You can say "He was driving texting on his phone" people would understand you although it isn't correct. It would be better to say "He was driving while texting on his phone".

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