HP Elite x3 hands-on: A business-focused Windows Mobile

Alex Kidman 22 February 2016


HP’s latest smartphone is massive in the hand and strongly geared towards the business crowd.

At Mobile World Congress, HP has taken the wraps off its latest mobile device. While it’s best known for IT equipment such as laptops and printers, the HP Elite x3 is a Windows Phone mobile device.

Quite a lot of a Windows Phone mobile device, actually; it’s a 6 inch phablet style device with a slew of features designed to hook in the more business-centric crowd. HP’s selling it on the back of Windows 10’s Continuum feature, which allows a Windows Phone mobile device to act as a virtual desktop for a larger display screen. To that end, HP isn’t just producing the Elite x3 as a standalone device, but as part of an ecosystem that will include a USB Desk Dock and Mobile Extender that effectively turns the Elite x3 into a laptop.


I had some hands-on time with the Elite x3 -- or at least the early alpha hardware that HP is showing off at Mobile World Congress. HP isn’t particularly looking at the Elite x3 as any kind of consumer device, so much of what it carries onboard is more enterprise-centric, from its IP rating for more robust businesses to the inclusion of an iris scanner for biometric security purposes.

It was widely tipped that either Samsung or LG would opt for iris scanning in its flagships this year, but it turns out that HP is the company going down that particular route. The early hardware I was able to assess didn’t yet have an inbuilt fingerprint sensor, but that will also be part of the final specification of the Elite x3 handset.

The Elite x3 has been built for business rather than looks, which means that it presents in a rather plain way if you’re used to more premium handsets. Even for early hardware most things worked the way you’d expect, although HP wasn’t able to demonstrate the iris scanning for me.

A six-inch phone is a lot to carry about, but HP’s argument is that the modular nature of the x3 ecosystem means that business types could simply carry it around and nothing else at all. This isn’t an entirely new idea -- Motorola had its Atrix phone a few years back with the same essential pitch -- so it will be interesting to see how well the final hardware actually stacks up. In its favour, the larger size of the Elite x3 allows HP to throw a truly massive 4150mAh battery into its frame, which should give it plenty of lasting power.

On the software side, continuum on Windows 10 allows you to run Windows Phone apps in a large screen format; to supplement what that can do, HP will also offer HP Workspace, a virtualised solution that allows full x86-compatible apps to run on the Elite x3’s hardware.

HP Australia expects the Elite x3 and associated accessories to be available in the Asia-Pacific market from August. Pricing hasn’t yet been announced.

Here are the specifications for the HP Elite x3 handset:

SmartphonesHP Elite x3
Screen size5.96in
ProcessorSnapdragon 820
Rear camera16MP
Front camera8MP
Display density492ppi

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