HP’s Elite x3 smartphone has achieved during slightest one thing: It has triumphantly satisfied Microsoft’s dream of phones that could eventually reinstate your PC.
Microsoft’s prophesy was incomprehensible unless those phones could support a PC’s bequest apps. Microsoft’s Continuum underline already allows we to bond a rodent and keyboard, giving a phone a demeanour and feel of a desktop PC. HP designed a Elite x3 to develop that concept. Pick any Win32 app you’d like—Photoshop, AutoCAD, even Chrome—and HP’s new Workspace underline will concede it to be run around your phone. Combine that with stellar battery life, truly useful utilities, and an (almost) chosen set of hardware specs, and we indeed have a PC in your pocket.
It’s a pity, then, that all this comes during a unequivocally elite, PC-like price. These costs banish a Elite x3 to corporate use, where an IT dialect foots a bill.
The Elite x3: A pricey phablet
Let’s start a debate of a Elite x3’s challenging specs with maybe a largest array of all: a price. I’ve always been a fan of immeasurable phones like a Nokia Lumia 1520 and a Samsung Galaxy Note series, yet a Elite x3 pushes a boundary of a “phablet” designation.
The phone’s $699 cost is good north of affordable—recall that we dinged a competing Acer Liquid Jade Primo for a $649 cost tab (it’s now $449 in a Microsoft Store). HP’s Desk Dock adds Continuum capabilities for another $150. Then there’s a arriving ultrabook-like Lap Dock, that during $500 brings a sum check to $1,299—just for a hardware. Gulp.
The phone itself is outrageous as well: 6.3 x 3.29 x 0.3 inches, weighing a stout 6.9 ounces. Though a Elite x3 is somewhat narrower and shorter than Nokia’s immeasurable Lumia 1520, both phones are usually too immeasurable for me to use with one hand. The Elite x3’s positively incomparable than Microsoft’s possess flagship Lumia 950XL as good as a Acer Liquid Jade Primo.
The Elite x3’s 5.96-inch, 2,560×1,440 AMOLED arrangement has a same specs as a Lumia 950XL’s, yet it pushes some-more pixels than a Liquid Jade Primo’s 5.5-inch, 1920×1080 display. Fortunately, it’s also stable by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 4, and distinct any other Windows phone, is both IP67 water-resistant and MIL-STD 810G drop-resistant, too.
If Microsoft had done this phone, it substantially would have staid for midrange hardware to keep costs down. HP, though? Hell no. With a 2.15GHz, quad-core, Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 and an integrated Adreno 530 GPU, a Elite x3 non-stop apps yet a spirit of lag, and transitioned uniformly from one charge to another.
The Elite x3 is also the only Windows phone with 4GB of RAM as good as 64GB of inner storage. The Lumia 950XL and Liquid Jade Primo both embody 3GB of RAM and 32GB of inner storage.
An SD label container allows adult to a fanciful 2TB of expansion, yet that container is common with a second SIM. Other notable facilities embody 2×2 802.11ac Wi-Fi for softened wireless reception, and Bluetooth 4.0LE and Miracast. The phone also offers NFC, creation a Elite x3 theoretically concordant with Microsoft’s tap-to-pay Wallet app — yet HP told us that that underline hasn’t been enabled. There’s a 3.5-mm audio jack, too.
You competence remember that I’m a outrageous fan of Windows Hello, a discerning and easy approach Windows recognizes we and logs we in. The Elite x3 does something few, if any, other phones do: it lets we record in around Hello with two biometric authenticators—an iris scanner and fingerprint reader. Both are competent, if not wholly predictable. Waking adult a phone endangered holding it with my finger over a reader, anticipating that possibly it or a iris scanner logged me in—and they roughly always did.
Benchmarks exhibit a Elite x3’s power
The Elite x3’s opening lives adult to a name. Benchmarked opposite a Lumia 950 and a Liquid Jade Primo (unfortunately we didn’t have a Lumia 950XL to test), the Elite x3 valid it’s a many absolute Windows phone on a marketplace today. Pay courtesy to tests like JetStream 1.1, a browser-based synthetic benchmark, where a Elite x3 is 70 percent faster. It’s even consistently faster than a Samsung Galaxy Note 5, an Android phone. (Also take a hide look here during how apps run underneath a Workspace environment, that we’ll plead later.)
We’ve also damaged out a AnTuTu benchmark on a 3 Windows 10 phones to offer a some-more approach comparison.
Battery life is another vital and for a Elite x3. Inside a phone is a immeasurable (though, sadly, unremoveable) 4,150 mAh battery, with distant some-more ability than possibly a Galaxy 6s Edge (3,600 mAh), iPhone 7 Plus (2,900 mAh) Lumia 950XL (3,340 mAh) or Acer Liquid Jade Primo (2,870 mAh). In usually 10 minutes, a Elite x3’s quick-charge record will fill a battery by 14 percent, good adequate for a 2.5-hour call.
The Elite x3 looped a 4K exam video regularly for an implausible 9 hours and 23 minutes, compared to usually underneath 6 hours for a Acer Liquid Jade Primo. It’s transparent that this is an all-day phone, and more.
I also spent some time with a Elite x3’s camera, which, like Acer’s Liquid Jade Primo, is one area where HP seemed to cut corners. If we were anticipating that a Elite x3’s 16MP behind and 8MP front-facing cameras would obey an iPhone, say, with a span of twin lenses, you’ll be disappointed. C’mon HP, what’s an additional few bucks for a good camera?
The exam photos suggested a estimable smirch that had zero to do with design quality: a time from that a camera idol was pulpy to a time a design was taken totalled about a second. It hearkens behind to a bad aged days of Windows phones, where glorious tone facsimile was injured by delayed shot times. Optical design stabilization wasn’t included, either. In my mind, a Elite x3’s camera ranks above a Liquid Jade Primo’s yet next a Lumia 950’s.
A miraculous Continuum experience
If a Elite x3 were an iPhone or an Android phone, we’d radically finish a examination right there. The loyal advantage of Windows phones, however, is a Continuum experience, that allows a docked Windows phone to offer as a somewhat degraded chronicle of a desktop PC. HP over-engineered a Continuum knowledge with a same courtesy to fact as a other aspects, and on a Elite x3 it shines brightly.
Let’s start with a wedgelike Dock, a meagre pound’s value of cosmetic and aluminum that could literally mount in as a arms in a diversion of Clue. With dual USB 3.0 ports as good as a USB-C pier (which can be used for charging), a Elite x3 wharf means business. In fact, a dock’s joining to capability extends to a arrangement connector—a full-sized DisplayPort connector, rather than a some-more common HDMI.
I criticized Acer’s Liquid Jade Primo since if we used a bundled case, a phone wouldn’t fit into a dock. HP’s suspicion of that—oh boy, has it ever. HP’s Elite x3 includes 3 sleeves that magnetically slip over and on tip of a dock: one designed to fit a unclothed phone, one designed to wharf a phone within HP’s wallet case, and a third that adds an prolongation cord so we can reason it in your palm while still regulating a phone’s touchpad to navigate.
Connecting a phone around a wharf works well. But a genuine creation here is the wireless connection. All of a prior iterations of a wireless Continuum knowledge I’ve used ranged from laggy to officious unusable, partly since of a Miracast wireless record that connected a two. HP’s Elite x3 uses Wi-Fi to bond a phone to your computer’s display, fluctuating a operation yet also significantly shortening latency to usually a smidge. In fact, a usually loiter we unequivocally beheld was from a phone itself, solemnly loading pages over a wireless connection.
Unfortunately, HP didn’t yield us with one of a pivotal accessories for a Elite x3: a Lap Dock. Essentially, it’s an softened chronicle of a NexDock, a “dumb” ultrabook that’s powered by your phone. In HP’s case, a Lap Dock is a 2.3-pound, laptop-like device with a 46.5-Whr battery, 3 USB-C ports, and a 12.5-inch 1080p display. It eliminates a need to lift your mouse, keyboard, and Display Dock on trips.
HP’s apps: No bloatware here
Normally, we’d be endangered with a smartphone builder who bundled additional apps with a phone. With a Elite x3, however, HP bundled an considerable preference of 10 useful utilities, totaling a meagre 4.4GB, and many of them uninstallable.
An HP Mobile Hardware Diagnostics app tests scarcely any member for failure. HP’s Device Hub app does what Microsoft should: yield a one-stop emporium of your device info, with links to a user guide, regulatory and guaranty information, and more. HP’s Display Tools will overrule Windows’ possess settings to keep your shade from dimming or branch off when docked.
You competence find a enclosed WinZip and Salesforce apps unnecessary, as good as an app to control HP printers. “HP Picks,” though, provides a easily curated list of business apps on a Microsoft Store.
And then, of course, there’s Workspace, HP’s gateway to virtualized Win32 apps that live in a HP cloud—and a whole reason to buy this phone.
HP’s Workspace: Wow, Win32 apps on your phone!
Workspace creates your phone your PC—for real. Say what we will about Continuum, or how good HP has implemented it; you’re still during Microsoft’s mercy. And since Continuum usually supports Microsoft’s comparatively new UWP apps, there’s a immeasurable physique of apps that we simply can’t use: browsers like Microsoft’s Internet Explorer or Google Chrome, graphics apps like AutoCAD, or partnership apps like HipChat. Project Centennial may be bringing comparison Win32 apps to a Windows Store, yet swell has been slow.
Workspace, meanwhile, can run these bequest apps in a virtualized cloud environment, usually like they’re on your PC. Though Citrix and a competitors have offering these capabilities to PCs and skinny customer inclination for years, it’s still a novel knowledge for phone users.
Unfortunately, an costly chartering routine overshadows what could be a transformational experience. Workspace is permitted in dual tiers: Essential ($579 per year, per user, or $49 per month) and Premium ($939 per year, per user, or $79 per month). A year of VPN formation costs extra: $2,995. Each comment tier comes with 24-hour support during a five-day workweek.
HP manages a designation of a apps we name in a cloud. The Essential tier allows adult to 10 apps; Premium users can name as many apps as they would like. HP runs a apps on a practical CPU and dedicated memory (4GB or 8GB, depending on a tier) and interacting with them remotely.
Workspace was generally pleasing to use, even if it had a possess small quirks. Not surprisingly, HP army we to use Workspace in and with a dock. HP granted a login and password, that we had to manually enter any time. Workspace also encourages we to store files in cloud storage services like Box, Dropbox, or (soon) OneDrive. (HP does not supply any cloud storage within Workspace itself.) But there’s no apparent approach to indeed entrance a Word record stored in Box unless you’re in Word.
Once logged in, Workspace let me use some-more than a dozen apps that HP seeded for my use, including Chrome, Internet Explorer, Slack, a full versions of a Office 2013 apps, and even Notepad.