HP's Elite x3 Is a Smartphone That Could Be Your Next PC

The Elite x3 can be used with a notebook-like mobile dock that adds a keyboard and display and runs using the smartphone's hardware.  

HP, HP Elite x3, smartphones, enterprise users, HP Mobile Extender dock, HP Desk  Dock, Windows 10 Continuum, Windows 10

With its new Elite x3 smartphone and accessories, HP is trying to replace desktop and laptop computers with a stand-alone smartphone that can be combined with docking modules to give users the computing power they need in a form factor that is ultra-mobile.

That's the idea behind the Elite x3 line, which includes a powerful Windows 10 smartphone along with an optional Mobile Extender dock that looks like a small notebook computer but actually contains only a keyboard and display. Also part of the Elite x3 line is an optional Desk Dock that allows the smartphone to be connected to a desktop monitor, keyboard, mouse and other workplace peripherals for wide-ranging productivity from a smartphone.

The Elite x3 product line was announced by HP on Feb. 21 at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

"Our customer insights indicated that there are a group of commercial customers where their needs for mobility and PC-level productivity are not being met," Michael Park, vice president and general manager of mobility at HP Inc., said in a statement. "The HP Elite x3 is where we see the future of computing heading—one device that can truly act like every device: a modern technology solution for a mobile-centric workplace combined with greater benefits for IT."

The HP Elite x3 is designed to give enterprise users the ability to get their work done using a smartphone that bridges phablet, laptop and desktop functions using Windows 10's Continuum feature across devices.

The Elite x3 smartphone features a 5.96-inch diagonal WQHD AMOLED touch-screen display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor with an integrated Qualcomm Adreno 530 GPU, 4GB of LPDDR4 SDRAM memory and 64GB of eMMC 5.1 onboard storage. The display is covered with durable Corning Gorilla Glass 4 and an anti-reflective coating.

Also included are a wide range of security features, such as dual biometrics with Iris recognition and a fingerprint reader with FIPS 140-2 cryptography. The Qualcomm processor includes secure boot, 128-bit key unified image encryption, 256-bit key full disk encryption and TPM 2.0 security.

The Elite x3 handset is also ruggedized for business users and meets MIL 810G standards for durability, including surviving repeated 4-foot drops onto concrete. Plus, it is IP-67 compliant and can survive being dropped in up to about 3 feet of water.

The handset has a 4,150mAh battery for all-day use and is equipped with dual SIM slots for use by travelers.

The smartphone is also equipped with a 16-megapixel full HD rear-facing camera, an 8MP full HD front-facing camera and 4G LTE, WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity. A built-in microSD slot accepts storage cards of up to 2TB. The handset is 6.37 inches long, 3.28 inches wide, 0.30 inches thick and weighs 6.87 ounces.

The optional HP Mobile Extender is a display and keyboard device that has a 12.5-inch diagonal HD display that can be used when connected to the Elite x3 smartphone. All data is stored on the smartphone, and all functions are provided by the smartphone since the Mobile Extender has no CPU, storage or other hardware.

The optional Desk Dock includes a DisplayPort for an external monitor, two USB-A ports, a USB-C connection and a wired Ethernet port to connect the Elite x3 smartphone to other workplace devices in an office setting.

The HP Elite x3 is slated to be available in the summer of 2016. Prices have not yet been announced.

Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst of Moor Insights & Strategy, told eWEEK that he is inspired by HP's Elite x3 fresh approach to enterprise and mobile computing.

"I've been thinking about the concept of modularity for about six years," said Moorhead. "But smartphone modularity hasn't had a good track record." The Motorola Atrix 4G a few years ago was an Android phone that connected to a dock that ran on Linux essentially using virtualized apps, making it more complicated than necessary for users, he said.

"We do have the first modular OS with Windows 10," Moorhead said, which helps the HP Elite x3 to shine because it can connect seamlessly to other Windows devices. "It's one OS that can run the same binaries" on multiple devices. What that enables you to do is come up with some creative modular things, [like the] Elite x3."