There's a good reason we named Sprint's HTC Mogul one of the best iPhone alternatives. Sure, the phone packs stereo Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, but it can also get in the ring with the iPhone when it comes to music. With recently-added support for the Sprint Music Store, the Mogul can download 99-cent songs over the air--something the iPhone can't do.
Moguls shipped after July 16th will have software preloaded with Music Store access; however, we had a pre-July 16th unit. Getting the music store software on the Mogul required a lengthy software update; the whole process took close to 20 minutes. After completing the inconvenient process we selected the magenta music-note icon on the main menu to start the Java Sprint Music Store application.
You get the same plain-text layout that you do with other Sprint Power Vision phones. Two tabs appear on the main screen--a Store tab for downloading or previewing songs and a Player tab for accessing the songs you've downloaded. We were able to swiftly toggle between these two tabs. Since we aren't big fans of the tracks on the top song lists which appear on the main screen, we immediately went to the bottom left-hand corner's Search button to look for tracks from a rarer artist. We love being able to search for artists using the Mogul's slide-down keyboard.
The five-second search returned a list of songs from Mika's new album. After listening to some preview tracks from the album, we selected a track to buy for the 99-cent list price. In a record 11 seconds, Mika's "Happy Ending" downloaded to our device, and a menu presented us with the options to "listen to this track now" or "add it to a playlist." We also liked that the album art appeared right next to the song information.
Talk and music integration on the phone was seamless. When we received a call while listening to music, the phone paused the track and allowed us to pick up the call. When the call ended, playback started right from where we left off.
Though the Mogul's speakers are plenty loud for personal listening and the included wired earbuds worked fine, we were more interested to see how well this service worked using stereo Bluetooth headphones. We paired the phone with the iLuv 199 and the Plantronics Pulsar 260. Although we could adjust the volume using these headsets' built-in controls, we couldn't pause or change tracks, as you can with other stereo Bluetooth phones.
It gets worse. You can only access your songs while the phone is on and tapped into to an EV-DO data connection. That means you can't listen to tracks in Airplane mode, so your music collection virtually disappears when you can't have the Mogul's cellular radio on. The multitasking experience is virtually nonexistent; while listening to music on the Mogul you can only shop for more tunes. You can't do other tasks such as send and receive text messages (which the $99 LG Muziq can do) or surf the Web or check your calender, which is a major bummer given that this is a smart phone.
Although the Mogul one-ups the iPhone by offering instant on-the-spot access to songs, the software's half-baked stereo Bluetooth support, EV-DO-only playback, and weak multitasking spoil the fun.
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