HP Elite X3 first impressions: a Windows 10 smartphone that’s loaded to the brim

“The HP Elite X3 is the most powerful Windows smartphone currently. Here’s a first look”

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While we seem to believe that Windows Mobile is on the decline, last week’s MWC brought forth quite a notable devices that were powered by Microsoft’s mobile platform. We got to see the budget-centric Lumia 650 ( first impressions) and Japanese brand VAIO’s Phone Biz (first impressions), but the smartphone that garnered the most attention was HP’s Elite X3 – a flagship that seemingly ticks all the right boxes. We got a chance to check out the smartphone, so let’s take a closer look at what it offers.

The HP Elite X3 is a massive phone, thanks to its large display panel measuring 5.96-inches diagonally. The display isn’t just big, it’s also visually appealing with its pixel-popping QHD resolution, which manages to deliver sharp text and good colours. Protecting the display against scratches is the latest-generation Corning Gorilla Glass. HP Elite X3 first impressions 18 Being a phablet – which almost encroaches upon the territory of tablets – the HP Elite X3 features a big profile, and can’t be operated with one hand. While it’s built out of plastic, some use of metal here and there manages to give it a classy look. The handset is quite slim at 7.8mm, although its weight is on the higher side at 195g In a bid to ensure that the HP Elite X3 can be used by almost everyone, and not just executives, the phone comes with IP67 certifications along with MIL-STD 810G compatibility. In simple terms, it means that the phablet is not only resilient to dust and water, but humid environments too, and is resistant to transport shock or thermal shock as well.

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While the display dominates the fascia, there’s considerable space above and below. The space above is occupied by an earpiece, a front-facing camera, and sensors such as ambient light and proximity, whereas the space below offers a row of capacitive navigation keys and an interesting-looking metallic speaker grille. Talking about ports and buttons, the power toggle is present on the right spine, whilst the volume rocker is available on the left. The 3.5mm audio socket lies up top, whereas the bidirectional USB Type-C port is at the base.

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At the back of the Elite X3, you’ll find the primary camera module along with an LED flash. HP’s logo is present further below. HP Elite X3 first impressions 10 The HP Elite X3 is a beast when it comes to the hardware. It comes fuelled by the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 CPU, which offers 64-bit architecture and the chipmaker’s custom Kryo processor in a quad-core configuration. Adding to the firepower further is 4 gigs of RAM and Adreno 530 graphics engine. The combination should be able to tear through everything thrown at it, and we got the same impression while trying out the device briefly. The storage aspect is taken care of by 64GB of in-built memory, which offers approximately 40GB for use to the end user. To top up the storage further, you can slide in a microSD card of up to 200GB. HP Elite X3 first impressions 15 Just like Microsoft’s flagships, the Lumia 950 and 950XL ( first impressions), the HP Elite X3 offers support for Windows Continuum. This means, that you can plug the phone to a dock connected to a large screen, and voila, you get yourself a full-fledged desktop computing experience. The phablet also comes with HP’s Workplace app, which makes it easier to install apps that can exploit the potential of a large screen in a better manner. Otherwise, the smartphone seems to be similar to other Windows 10 offerings, barring a few preloaded titles from HP.

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For imagery, the HP Elie X3 offers a 16MP camera at the back accompanied by an LED flash. An 8MP sensor is present at the front to satiate the needs of selfie enthusiasts. Both the cameras can record videos in 1080p resolution, but we found it strange that the mobile doesn’t offer 4K shooting capabilities considering the rise of 4K content and TV screens. HP Elite X3 first impressions 17 The HP Elite X3 can accept two nano-SIM cards (the secondary slot is of the hybrid variety), and supports 4G along with the standard connectivity options like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC and GPS. The phone is juiced up by a beefy battery rated at 4,150mAh.

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There’s little doubt that the HP Elite X3 is a powerful smartphone, but with the prospects of Windows 10 not looking too bright in comparison to Android and iOS, we wonder whether it will prove to be a blockbuster device for HP. The phablet is expected to go on sale by summer, but there’s no word on its pricing and whether or not it’ll ever make it to India.  

Photos by Ketaki Bhojnagarwala

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