The first thing we noticed about the HTC Mogul is the much slimmer form factor, minus the PPC-6700's stubby antenna. The gunmetal-gray exterior felt very good in the hand and is complete with a textured backside that ensured a no-slip grip. Some may think it's overkill, but we like that you can choose one of three ways to navigate the device: a thumb wheel on the left side, a five-way navigator control underneath the display (a big improvement over the PPC-6700's tiny joystick), and the included telescoping stylus. However, right-handers might be miffed that the D-pad is on the left side when the keyboard is open.
Like its predecessor, the Mogul features a full QWERTY keyboard that slides out when you hold the device sideways, but this one has a smoother sliding action. The flat layout, much like the T-Mobile Wing's, is large enough to prevent typos, even when you're sending long e-mail replies, but the tactile feedback could be a bit better. Sometimes we weren't sure whether we hit a letter. On the other hand, that's the price you pay for having a more compact footprint than the PPC-6700, which had a relatively plump keyboard. The 2.8-inch display is plenty bright, with the same 320 x 240-pixel resolution as the Wing.
This smart phone is littered with buttons; it's like the antithesis of the iPhone. When held vertically, the front of the Mogul has dedicated launch keys for e-mail and the browser above the display. The five-way controller is flanked by two soft keys, a Send and End key, the Windows menu key, plus an OK key for minimizing programs. The left side of the device houses yet another OK key, a launch key for voice dialing, and a Wi-Fi On/Off switch (a nice touch when you want to save power).
We're not done yet. The right side is where you'll find a Comm Manager launch button (for toggling the other wireless connections on and off), the power button, and the camera launch/shutter button. Having one-touch access to all these options is nice, but it took us a while to get our bearings.
Fast Now, Faster Later
As the first smart phone to support EV-DO Rev. A, the HTC Mogul's biggest selling point is its data speed. Yes, you can use Wi-Fi to surf the Web and download e-mail when you're in a hotspot, but Sprint's network will enable fast downloads (400 to 700 Kbps on the Rev. 0 network; 400 Kpbs to 1.4 Mbps on the upcoming Rev. A) and uploads (50 to 70 Kbps; 350 to 500 Kpbs) in more than 10,400 cities. Even without Rev. A, the Mogul was faster than its predecessor. Whereas the PPC-6700 took 10 to 15 seconds to start loading most sites, the Mogul took only 4 to 8 seconds to bring up CNN.com and then about 15 more seconds to fill in the images and other elements. In other words, you won't be waiting nearly as long to start scrolling and reading online articles.
Those who have very little patience can use the excellent OnDemand service for quick links to news and sports headlines, weather forecasts, and other info. You can also perform Windows Live searches from the Today screen, although we would prefer the option to change the default search engine to Google.
We also noticed decent speeds when downloading and sending e-mails with large attachments. It took the Mogul about 50 seconds to send a message with a 452KB image attached (which we took with the 2-MP camera). That's only seven seconds slower than it took with the device's Wi-Fi connection. The e-mail experience in general is what you'd expect from a WM6 device--easy setup and good attachment support (thanks to the full mobile versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint). Unfortunately, instant messaging out of the box is limited to Windows Live Messenger.
Overall performance using Windows Mobile 6 was smoother than on the T-Mobile Wing, thanks to the Mogul's faster 400-MHz processor, whether we were working in Word Mobile or looking up one of hundreds of contacts by typing the few first letters of the person's name. We just wish this device had more RAM. Although the Mogul has 162MB of user-accessible memory, we were greeted with a "Low on Memory" notification a couple of times when we had five or more programs open. Unfortunately, as with other WM6 devices, apps don't close when you exit; you have to go under Settings and click Stop.
Seriously Fun (with More to Come)
The Mogul satisfies as a media-playback device, until you start playing with the Sprint Music Store application. The back-mounted speaker put out a fair amount of volume when we played some tracks loaded on a microSD Card. You can also use Windows Media Player to transfer music and videos, including Windows Media DRM-protected content, via USB. Our tunes sounded okay at 60 percent volume, but the speaker distorted at higher volumes; you'll be better off using the included earbuds or a set of Bluetooth stereo headphones.
So how is the Mogul as a phone? Adequate. Calls over Sprint's network were mostly clear, with occasional fuzziness on the line. We found the speakerphone sufficiently loud and easy to activate. And both voice and data coverage were generally strong. Sprint claims the Mogul offers 20 percent more battery life than the PPC-6700, and we concur. This device lasted about two full days with moderate usage, which included a mix of phone calls, music listening, Web surfing, and checking e-mail.
We would like to see how well Rev. A data and the Sprint Music Service work on this device before we decide whether it should get our Editors' Choice, but the HTC Mogul has the speed and performance you need to leave your laptop behind. Although we wish it had more memory, this smart phone has all the right ingredients for road warriors who want it all.
It's nice to have over-the-air music on Sprint's most powerful smart phone, but the execution should have been much better.
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