Editor’s Notice: It appears like our headline was spot on, as HP has determined to discontinue the Elite x3 after Microsoft put Windows Mobile into maintenance mode.
HP’s Elite x3 smartphone has achieved not less than one factor: It has triumphantly realized Microsoft’s dream of telephones that would ultimately substitute your PC.
Microsoft’s imaginative and prescient was meaningless until these telephones may help the PC’s legacy apps. Microsoft’s Continuum function already permits you to join a mouse and keyboard, giving the cellphone the appear and feel of a desktop PC. HP designed the Elite x3 to evolve that idea. Decide any Win32 app you’d like—Photoshop, AutoCAD, even Chrome—and HP’s new Workspace function will permit it to be run by way of your cellphone. Mix that with stellar battery life, actually helpful utilities, and an (virtually) elite set of specs, and also you certainly have a PC in your pocket.
It’s a pity, then, that every one this comes at a really elite, PC-like value. These prices relegate the Elite x3 to company use, the place an IT division foots the invoice.
The Elite x3: A dear phablet
Let’s start our tour of the Elite x3’s formidable specs with maybe the biggest variety of all: its value. I’ve at all times been a fan of enormous telephones just like the Nokia Lumia 1520 and the Samsung Galaxy Notice sequence, however the Elite x3 pushes the bounds of the “phablet” designation.
The cellphone’s $699 value is effectively north of reasonably priced—recall that we dinged the competing Acer Liquid Jade Primo for its $649 price ticket (it’s presently $449 within the Microsoft Retailer). HP’s Desk Dock provides Continuum capabilities for one more $150. Then there’s the upcoming ultrabook-like Lap Dock, which at $500 brings the overall invoice to $1,299—only for the . Gulp.
The cellphone itself is gigantic as effectively: 6.Three x Three.29 x zero.Three inches, weighing a sturdy 6.9 ounces. Although the Elite x3 is barely narrower and shorter than Nokia’s large Lumia 1520, each telephones are simply too giant for me to make use of with one hand. The Elite x3’s definitely bigger than Microsoft’s personal flagship Lumia 950XL in addition to the Acer Liquid Jade Primo.
The Elite x3’s 5.96-inch, 2,560×1,440 AMOLED show has the identical specs because the Lumia 950XL’s, however it pushes extra pixels than the Liquid Jade Primo’s 5.5-inch, 1920×1080 show. Happily, it’s additionally protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass four, and in contrast to some other Home windows cellphone, is each IP67 waterproof and MIL-STD 810G drop-resistant, too.
If Microsoft had made this cellphone, it in all probability would have settled for midrange to maintain prices down. HP, although? Hell no. With a 2.15GHz, quad-core, Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 and an built-in Adreno 530 GPU, the Elite x3 opened apps and not using a trace of lag, and transitioned easily from one activity to a different.
The Elite x3 can also be the solely Home windows cellphone with 4GB of RAM in addition to 64GB of inside storage. The Lumia 950XL and Liquid Jade Primo each embrace 3GB of RAM and 32GB of inside storage.
An SD card slot permits as much as a theoretical 2TB of growth, although that slot is shared with a second SIM. Different noteworthy options embrace 2×2 802.11ac Wi-Fi for higher wi-fi reception, plus Bluetooth four.0LE and Miracast. The cellphone additionally gives NFC, making the Elite x3 theoretically appropriate with Microsoft’s tap-to-pay Pockets app — although HP advised us that that function hasn’t been enabled. There’s a Three.5-mm audio jack, too.
Chances are you’ll recall that I’m an enormous fan of Home windows Hi there, the fast and simple method Home windows acknowledges you and logs you in. The Elite x3 does one thing few, if any, different telephones do: it helps you to log in by way of Hi there with two biometric authenticators—an iris scanner and fingerprint reader. Each are competent, if not totally predictable. Waking up the cellphone concerned holding it with my finger over the reader, hoping that both it or the iris scanner logged me in—they usually virtually at all times did.
Benchmarks reveal the Elite x3’s energy
The Elite x3’s efficiency lives as much as its identify. Benchmarked towards the Lumia 950 and the Liquid Jade Primo (sadly we didn’t have a Lumia 950XL to check), the Elite x3 proved it’s essentially the most highly effective Home windows cellphone in the marketplace at the moment. Take note of checks like JetStream 1.1, a browser-based synthetic benchmark, the place the Elite x3 is 70 % sooner. It’s even constantly sooner than the Samsung Galaxy Notice 5, an Android cellphone. (Additionally take a sneak peek right here at how apps run below the Workspace surroundings, which we’ll talk about later.)
We’ve additionally damaged out the AnTuTu benchmark on the three Home windows 10 telephones to supply a extra direct comparability.
Battery life is one other main plus for the Elite x3. Contained in the cellphone is a large (although, sadly, unremoveable) four,150 mAh battery, with way more capability than both the Galaxy 6s Edge (Three,600 mAh), iPhone 7 Plus (2,900 mAh) Lumia 950XL (Three,340 mAh) or Acer Liquid Jade Primo (2,870 mAh). In simply 10 minutes, the Elite x3’s quick-charge expertise will fill the battery by 14 %, ok for a 2.5-hour name.
The Elite x3 looped a 4K check video repeatedly for an unbelievable 9 hours and 23 minutes, in comparison with slightly below 6 hours for the Acer Liquid Jade Primo. It’s clear that that is an all-day cellphone, and extra.
I additionally spent a while with the Elite x3’s digital camera, which, like Acer’s Liquid Jade Primo, is one space the place HP appeared to chop corners. Should you had been hoping that the Elite x3’s 16MP rear and 8MP front-facing cameras would emulate an iPhone, say, with a pair of twin lenses, you’ll be disenchanted. C’mon HP, what’s an additional couple of dollars for an excellent digital camera?
The check images revealed a considerable flaw that had nothing to do with picture high quality: the time from which the digital camera icon was pressed to the time the image was taken measured a couple of second. It hearkens again to the dangerous outdated days of Home windows telephones, the place glorious colour replica was marred by gradual shot instances. Optical picture stabilization wasn’t included, both. In my thoughts, the Elite x3’s digital camera ranks above the Liquid Jade Primo’s however beneath the Lumia 950’s.
A fabulous Continuum expertise
If the Elite x3 had been an iPhone or an Android cellphone, we’d primarily finish the evaluate proper there. The true benefit of Home windows telephones, nevertheless, is the Continuum expertise, which permits a docked Home windows cellphone to function a barely degraded model of a desktop PC. HP over-engineered the Continuum expertise with the identical consideration to element as its different facets, and on the Elite x3 it shines brightly.
Let’s start with the wedgelike Dock, a scant pound’s price of plastic and aluminum which may actually stand in as a weapon in a recreation of Clue. With two USB Three.zero ports in addition to a USB-C port (which can be utilized for charging), the Elite x3 dock means enterprise. In actual fact, the dock’s dedication to productiveness extends to the show connector—a full-sized DisplayPort connector, relatively than the extra widespread HDMI.
I criticized Acer’s Liquid Jade Primo as a result of in case you used its bundled case, the cellphone wouldn’t match into the dock. HP’s considered that—oh boy, has it ever. HP’s Elite x3 consists of three sleeves that magnetically slide over and on prime of the dock: one designed to suit the naked cellphone, one designed to dock the cellphone inside HP’s billfold case, and a 3rd that provides an extension twine so you possibly can maintain it in your hand whereas nonetheless utilizing the cellphone’s touchpad to navigate.
Connecting the cellphone by way of the dock works effectively. However the actual innovation right here is the wi-fi connection. All the earlier iterations of the wi-fi Continuum expertise I’ve used ranged from laggy to downright unusable, partly due to the Miracast wi-fi expertise that linked the 2. HP’s Elite x3 makes use of Wi-Fi to attach the cellphone to your laptop’s show, extending its vary but additionally considerably lowering latency to only a smidge. In actual fact, the one lag I actually seen was from the cellphone itself, slowly loading pages over a wi-fi connection.
Sadly, HP didn’t present us with one of many key equipment for the Elite x3: the Lap Dock. Basically, it’s an improved model of the NexDock, a “dumb” ultrabook that’s powered by your cellphone. In HP’s case, the Lap Dock is a 2.Three-pound, laptop-like machine with a 46.5-Whr battery, three USB-C ports, and a 12.5-inch 1080p show. It eliminates the necessity to carry your mouse, keyboard, and Show Dock on journeys.
HP’s apps: No bloatware right here
Usually, we’d be involved with a smartphone maker who bundled further apps with the cellphone. With the Elite x3, nevertheless, HP bundled a powerful choice of ten helpful utilities, totaling a scant four.4GB, and most of them uninstallable.
An HP Cell Diagnostics app checks practically each element for failure. HP’s Machine Hub app does what Microsoft ought to: present a one-stop store of your machine information, with hyperlinks to the person information, regulatory and guarantee info, and extra. HP’s Show Instruments will override Home windows’ personal settings to maintain your display screen from dimming or turning off when docked.
You would possibly discover the included WinZip and Salesforce apps pointless, in addition to an app to manage HP printers. “HP Picks,” although, supplies a properly curated listing of enterprise apps on the Microsoft Retailer.
After which, in fact, there’s Workspace, HP’s gateway to virtualized Win32 apps that reside within the HP cloud—and your complete purpose to purchase this cellphone.
HP’s Workspace: Wow, Win32 apps in your cellphone!
Workspace makes your cellphone your PC—for actual. Say what you’ll about Continuum, or how effectively HP has applied it; you’re nonetheless at Microsoft’s mercy. And since Continuum solely helps Microsoft’s comparatively new UWP apps, there’s an unlimited physique of apps that you just can’t use: browsers like Microsoft’s Web Explorer or Google Chrome, graphics apps like AutoCAD, or collaboration apps like HipChat. Project Centennial could also be bringing older Win32 apps to the Home windows Retailer, however progress has been gradual.
Workspace, in the meantime, can run these legacy apps in a virtualized cloud surroundings, identical to they’re in your PC. Although Citrix and its opponents have provided these capabilities to PCs and skinny shopper units for years, it’s nonetheless a novel expertise for cellphone customers.
Sadly, an costly licensing course of overshadows what could possibly be a transformational expertise. Workspace is offered in two tiers: Important ($579 per yr, per person, or $49 per 30 days) and Premium ($939 per yr, per person, or $79 per 30 days). A yr of VPN integration prices additional: $2,995. Every account tier comes with 24-hour help throughout the five-day workweek.
HP manages the set up of the apps you select in its cloud. The Important tier permits as much as 10 apps; Premium customers can choose as many apps as they want. HP runs the apps on a digital CPU and devoted reminiscence (4GB or 8GB, relying upon the tier) and interacting with them remotely.
Workspace was usually nice to make use of, even when it had its personal little quirks. Not surprisingly, HP forces you to make use of Workspace along with a dock. HP provided a login and password, which I needed to manually enter every time. Workspace additionally encourages you to retailer information in cloud storage companies like Field, Dropbox, or (quickly) OneDrive. (HP doesn’t provide any cloud storage inside Workspace itself.) However there’s no apparent strategy to truly entry a Phrase file saved in Field until you’re in Phrase.
As soon as logged in, Workspace let me use greater than a dozen apps that HP seeded for my use, together with Chrome, Web Explorer, Slack, the total variations of the Workplace 2013 apps, and even Notepad.