Hands-on with the Sprint Mogul by HTC

Known as the Titan, the PPC-6800, and the XV6800 in its various forms, Sprint's Mogul from HTC represents arguably the most anticipated piece of CDMA hardware so far this year. Why? Well, for starters, its direct predecessor -- the PPC-6700 "Apache" -- isn't getting any younger. Don't get us wrong, the PPC-6700 was a well-loved device that held its own for a good long while, but let's be honest: aerial antennas and Windows Mobile 5 are getting a little passé (to put it lightly). We've had the good fortune to be able to spend a few quality minutes with a production Mogul this weekend, so let's have a closer look, shall we?


For those in a time crunch, let's skip straight to the point: for PPC-6700 owners, the Mogul is a more than worthwhile upgrade. There isn't any one stand-out feature of the Mogul that makes it the killer CDMA smartphone, but the sum of the incremental improvements over the PPC-6700 really seals the deal. The aforementioned internal antenna and Windows Mobile 6 Professional are welcome additions, of course, but you also get double the internal ROM (about 163MB usable), an extra 0.7 megapixels worth of snappin' power, the promise of EV-DO rev. A data via upgrade later in the year, and a scroll wheel on the handset's left side. Upgraders might lament the move from miniSD to microSD, but going forward, it's a good thing -- microSD's clearly the standard of choice for phone memory expansion.

HTC made the somewhat unusual move of powering the Mogul with a Qualcomm MSM7500 (versus, say, an XScale or OMAP) humming along at a nice, round 400MHz. We haven't had the opportunity to run a good battery test, but for what it's worth, the thing's plenty fast. Maybe we're just used to 200MHz OMAP850 devices, but the Mogul's WM6 build definitely moves at a solid clip atop Qualcomm's hopefully-not-banned chipset.

The Mogul's media support is solid. We rocked stereo Bluetooth via a Motorola S9 with no issues whatsoever -- and in the process of testing it, we found that it could handle a 128kbps WMA with aplomb. When you've failed to carry enough tuneage on your microSD card, Sprint's music store is accessible (right from the home screen, in fact). Perhaps the only audio feature we're really missing here then is a 3.5mm headphone jack; yeah, we're used to getting shafted on that one, but it seems the Mogul's plenty thick to fit one in there somewhere. The camera held its own -- nothing too special here, obviously, but we appreciated the refresh rate on the viewfinder (almost seemed realtime) and the fact that the LED flash could be set to remain on continuously. Not a bad flashlight in a pinch.

So, then, what sucked on the Mogul? Not much. The bright yellow, fully Sprint-ified UI theme is an acquired taste, the reversed direction of the QWERTY slide takes a little getting used to, and we found the soft buttons by the d-pad just a little hard to single out. Yeah, that's pretty much it, so we think owners should be able to work off any buyer's remorse in a jiffy with a few uber-satisfying flicks of the spring loaded keyboard.