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MWC 2016 | HP unveils Elite X3 business smartphone

Hands-on with HP Elite X3 business smartphone
Hands-on with HP Elite X3 business smartphone
Under the new "One for all" motto, HP will be launching a 6-inch Windows Mobile 10 smartphone with docks and attachments to become a full-fledged notebook via Windows Continuum.

Rumors of a Windows-based HP smartphone leaked late last year under the code name "Falcon" with the Snapdragon 820 SoC. HP would later confirm that the manufacturer will make an appearance at this year's MWC 2016.

Now officially unveiled as the Elite X3, HP VP and General Manager Michael Park is vaunting the new phone as a "killer device" to media and analysts. In addition to its first-class hardware and design, the Elite X3 will adapt to its ecosystem with proprietary applications and accessories.

Specifications of the Elite X3 include a 6-inch AMOLED 2560 x 1440 resdolution display, polycarbonate chassis with metal framing, and Gorilla Glass 4 for a total weight of about 190 grams. This is astonishingly light considering the screen size and the dense non-removable 4150 mAh battery pack. Despite the non-unibody design, the device is still rated for IP67 and MIL 810G standards for dust and water resistance of up to 1 meter for 30 minutes. The rear casing has five pins for connecting specialized accessories.

While the Elite X3 will indeed ship with the Snapdragon 820 SoC, it is expected to be underclocked due to thermal limitations. The CPU can potentially take even more power when in Docking Mode for notebook functionality. Other features include 4 GB of LPDDR4 RAM and MicroSD expansion of up to 2 TB. Wireless radio support include 2x2 WiFi, dual SIM, and LTE Cat 6.

Aside from the front-facing stereo Bang & Olufsen speakers, the Elite X3 will have noise cancellation, an 8 MP front-facing camera, and a 16 MP rear camera with a f/2.0 aperture. An integrated iris scanner and rear fingerprint reader will also be included for added security to appeal to business users, though the pre-production model on display was lacking both. Secure Boot, Image Encryption, TPM 2.0, Bitlocker 128-bit, and SSL VPN are all supported for even more layers of protection.

What makes the Elite X3 special is the "Desk Dock" accessory, which is essentially a docking station with RJ-45, DisplayPort, 2x USB 3.0, and a USB Type-C port. The phone itself can output up to 1080p to an external monitor for use as a standard PC. Rapid Charging is supported on the dock as well.

Virtualization via "HP Workspace" will grant access to x86 applications to ensure maximum compatibility. When questioned about the decision to favor a Snapdragon SoC over an Intel Atom, HP simply stated that the Snapdragon SoC provided the performance that they were looking for. The Salesforce1 application will be available on the HP smartphone.

A second accessory will be made available alongside the Desk Dock called the "Mobile Extender". This is essentially a notebook shell with a 12.5-inch FHD matte display, 48 Wh battery, and keyboard. It will lack traditional processors and hardware as the Elite X3 smartphone itself will run the notebook.

Expect availability by this Summer 2016. HP has yet to reveal starting prices for the Elite X3, though the manufacturer has confirmed appropriate bundles and an initial release catered towards business customers first. Prices may be as high as 1000 Euros considering the scope and range of functionality.



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J. Simon Leitner/ Allen Ngo, 2016-02-24 (Update: 2016-02-24)