MWC 2016: HP’s Elite X3 designed to replace your phone, laptop and PC – Sydney Morning Herald
When it’s not tethered to anything, the Elite X3 is a powerful smartphone that (barely) fits in your pocket. Photo: Peter Wells
The biggest buzz at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is coming from an unlikely source. Everyone on the ground is discussing boring old HP’s Elite X3 â running Windows 10 â as the must see booth of the show.
The HP Elite X3 is a giant phone with a 5.9-inch display, and an enormous 4150mAh battery. Inside is 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 â the same chipset powering the just-announced powerhouse phones from Samsung, LG and Sony.
But HP want you to think about the Elite X3 as more than just a smartphone. For HP, this is a device to replace a computer, and it’s aimed directly at the enterprise market.
Sitting in its dock, the X3 gains USB ports, ethernet and video out capabilities. Windows 10 automatically expands on the monitor to create a desktop experience. Photo: Peter Wells
To pull that off, they’ve built a docking station for the HP Elite X3 that allows the phone to connect to a desktop monitor, ethernet and USB. And thanks to Windows 10 continuum, docking the phone coverts the OS from mobile to desktop.
The results are impressive. When docked, it’s hard to tell you’re running Windows from a phone and not a traditional PC box. Windows 10 immediately expands to fill the monitor, and universal apps such as Excel and Word behave as desktop applications. To sell the effect at the booth, HP even used those same cheap and nasty keyboards you see in every enterprise HP deployment.
There is almost no delay switching between the mobile and desktop versions of Windows 10. Pop the phone in the dock, blink, and your monitor is running a desktop environment. Remove the phone from the dock and in a second you’re back to your Windows 10 mobile home screen.
On the go, you can get the big screen experience by connecting to the laptop-like Mobile Extender, wirelessly or with a cable. Photo: Peter Wells
But as powerful as that Snapdragon processor may be, without Intel inside the Elite X3 won’t be able to run traditional desktop apps. To bridge that gap, HP is providing a virtual environment for it’s enterprise customers â similar to the popular enterprise tool Citrix. Everything old is new again, including the thin client, and the Elite X3 aims to be the thinnest client on the market.
The most fascinating piece of this puzzle is the Mobile Extender. The Mobile Extender looks like an ultra portable laptop, but in reality it’s just a shell of a computer. The Extender has a keyboard, battery and screen, but all the processing power is still within the Elite X3: you tether the phone via Wi-Fi or USB to make the laptop come alive. The demo unit was just a mock-up, though HP assured me it was the same weight and size as the shipping model.
Like all Windows phones, I have a feeling the Elite X3 will be loved by tech journalists who are desperate to review something different, but I’m not sure how well that will translate into sales.
The question for HP is do we really need this? As more enterprise customers switch to Office 365 or Google Docs, much of the work we do is already hosted in the cloud, and synced between our phones and computers.
I guess HP is looking at it from another angle. As more companies require their users have a work phone as well as a work computer, why not combine the two? HP is betting its enterprise customers would like to purchase just one device that can be both. If HP can pull it off, it may just breath life into the almost dead Windows phone market.
The author travelled to Barcelona as a guest of Huawei.
MORE FROM MWC:
- Hands on with Samsung’s Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge
- Meet LG’s modular smartphone and ‘friends’
- Huawei’s Windows tablet in Apple clothing