Sunday, August 5, 2007

Sprint HTC Mogul PPC-6800 Review

Sprint recently began offering the HTC Mogul, also called the PPC-6800. This Windows Mobile device offers a number of high-end features, like a built-in keyboard, Wi-Fi, and support for 3G cellular-wireless networking.

It is the successor to the Sprint PPC-6700.

Design & Construction

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Looks wise, the Mogul is a radical change from the old Apache, which was marketed under the PPC-6700 name. The external antenna is gone, the styling is different, and the Mogul has a wider and thinner form-factor. The overall appearence is evocative of the Hermes, sold in the United States by AT&T as the 8525.

The Mogul isn't just a Hermes variant for Sprint, though. It has several noticible differences, the biggest of which is its slider mechanism. Older HTC slider units had a friction-based slider, where you simply pushed the screen up. The Mogul, though, is spring-loaded. One small push on the screen, and it automatically snaps to the "open" position.

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While this does make it easier to open by accident than the older models, the mechanism is as durable as ever, being able to stand up to routine use without seeming to give way. Of course, I've only been able to abuse it for a couple of weeks, so that's no guarantee of long-term reliability. As much as moving parts have to be expected to fail eventually, HTC's sliders have built themselves a pretty good reputation for robust design and long-term functionality.

For both docking and the connection of headsets or headphones, the Mogul relies on the same modified mini-USB plug, known as ExtUSB, that's found on the Hermes and other HTC Pocket PC phones. For those who haven't seen it before, ExtUSB is a specially shaped connector that lets all standard mini-USB cables serve for power or data. The headphone/headset, on the other hand, will only fit into the ExtUSB port.

The unit is practically covered in buttons. There's buttons scattered all over the casing, for UI control, application launching, camera, voice recorder, etcetera. A total of thirteen buttons, not including the keyboard, 5-way directional pad, or the three-way jog wheel. You might call it the anti-iPhone in that respect -- physical control is NOT an issue.