Most phones nowadays are considered as a smartphones as they can perform tasks similar to what you can do in a full blown computer but is there a device that works the other way around? Meaning it’s a computer with a phone? Well don’t search for that device anymore because it is available and it is called the HP Elite X3.
A couple of weeks ago I was handed over this device to be tested and see its use case, basically we are looking at this device to be a replacement of our thin clients as well as their phones, basically making two devices into one. As described from HP’s website, this device is “Built for business, Designed from the ground up for employees committed to getting the job done wherever they happen to be, the HP Elite x3 is an exciting computing alternative tailored to today’s dynamic work styles. Start a task on the go and finish it at your desk without saving, synching or restarting. Simply dock your HP Elite x3 to effortlessly switch from a handheld to a desktop experience with external display, keyboard and mouse. With HP Workspace4 or your company’s application virtualization solution, your HP Elite x3 lets you access your business critical applications.” Will it live to its promise? Well that’s what we are going to find out.
This device is what my childhood dreams are made of, a real computer that you can carry around like a phone and dock it to become a fully blown computer. In paper it looks like it can handle the task, in fact it’s even faster than most low end specced laptops and old computers. In a diminutive size compared to laptop this is only measuring 161.8 x 83.5 x 7.8 mm and weighing only 195 g just a tad bigger than the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. It boasts a Quad-core CPU (2×2.15 GHz Kryo & 2×1.6 GHz Kryo) and an Adreno 530 GPU so it can handle tasks given to it with ease. It has an internal memory of 64 GB storage and 4 GB RAM and the copy I had has two SIMs and 1 microSD slot that can hold up to 256 GB, it can be the other way around where you can have 2 x 256 GB microSD but since we will be using this for business for all employees its more logical to have two sims one personal and one for work so our staff uses only one device in replacement of a workstation, business phone and mobile phone.
Running Microsoft Windows 10 Mobile with Continuum you can expect to use your favourite desktop applications like Microsoft Office and the major browsers like how you normally use it. So was it responsive, on my personal opinion yes and it can tackle complex documents with ease though the Edge browser is a bit clunky where it sometimes select the text instead of performing a click when you touch links on phone mode. I am also aware that this is a pre-production copy so I expect the performance to be better on retail versions. For normal tasks this phone is great but don’t expect it to run Visual Studio or do some photo editing in Photoshop, though I haven’t tried I guess the experience will not be as great as a full blown desktop but who knows. Anyways most of our staff from where I work connect to a Central Server through Citrix or Remote Desktop so we will be using the phone as the medium to connect to our systems like the thin clients.
Connectivity wise the dock features 1 DisplayPort, 2 USB-A, 1 USB Type-C and 1 RJ-45, it weighs quite heavy 450 g for its size but you need that if it will sit on an office table you don’t want it to be light and easily toppled. With the DisplayPort it easily displayed my Windows on a full HD monitor. Connecting it is easy as well, just several taps away on first setup then single tap on succeeding docks. While it’s connected to a monitor the phone becomes a track pad I wish you can use it as a secondary screen or for some widgets.
For the battery it boasts a 4,150mAh battery and on full charge it tells you 2 days of battery life. While that will not ever happen if you use the phone constantly on my experience after fully charging it and use it for the first 2 hours of the day, it was still showing 100% but battery life is down to 1 day and 17 hours. Even have of this might be true a full day in heavy use this is great!
For other non-business specs for me it will be just a bonus, like the Bang & Olufsen speakers was quite a nice addition, it was that not loud but the audio was crisp and clear compared to my Samsung S6.
The design overall was great, a rectangle brick for me is a rectangle brick as long as it is simple that’s all that I care for. The Corning Gorilla Glass 4 Capacitive touchscreen is a beauty, that enormous 5.96 inches (~72.2% screen-to-body ratio) and 1440 x 2560 pixels (~494 ppi pixel density) is just a pleasure for the eyes, I tried it in a bright sunlight and everything is still readable.
The camera is also well specced with its primary camera at 16 MP has a big aperture of f/2.2, video can take 1080p @ 30fps while the front facing one is an 8MP shooter. Though it’s not as fast as iPhone 6S and Samsung S6 or S7 it takes great photos.
I took some shots (no post processing) just to give you an idea and just look at the details on the photos below, it can also blur the background a bit, though I don’t know the sensor size I think it’s those large mobile ones as the small sensors cannot do this.
So what is the verdict?
Well I liked it, the only thing I did not like are the clunky browser which I guess can be addressed easily because it’s a software and the missing middle button, I like to have one middle physical button on my device (anyways that’s just me), if its missing I feel like I have less control over my device it’s just a habit for me that it was there. It was hard adjusting for me because I always look for that button, add to that the circumstance that I am already so used to Apple and Android devices the first few hours was quite a frustration but as I use it I learned to enjoy it, it was grunty and powerful for a phone, as a desktop it is alright but it will definitely shine if you are using it like a thin client, but for now the Citrix receiver does not yet work well with this device but when that update is ready I am sure this thing will rock.
Well this is not for everyone but for business users who want the ultimate mobility that also makes you work where ever you are then this device is for you, the camera and audio are just added benefits so you can also enjoy it even not for business use.
So where do I get this? Well in most places this is not yet available and what we had was a pre-production copy, look at the one of the images on the phone above it says not for sale but for more info and if you want to be notified when this comes out then go over to HP website for more information.