Can your smartphone replace your PC? HP's Elite x3 wants to try

22 December 2016

HP's Elite x3 is a smartphone that wants to replace your computer.

The Elite x3 is unique because it's one of the small number of Windows 10 Mobile powered smartphones to launch in Australia this year, but also because it takes advantage of Microsoft's Continuum technology. Continuum is software that allows a smartphone to transform into a desktop-like experience when connected to a monitor. Previous Windows 10 smartphones have been capable of this, but HP is aiming to take the feature to the next level with what it calls the "Mobile Extender".

The Mobile Extender is, for all intents and purposes, a hollowed-out laptop. It has a 1080p 12.5-inch display, a keyboard, and a battery, but no other internals. Instead, users are able to pair the Mobile Extender with their Elite x3 (over USB Type-C or a wireless connection) for a notebook-like experience powered by the phone.

HP Director for Personal Systems (South Pacific) Paul Gracey told WhistleOut that the Elite x3 is predominantly built for business customers, but that die hard Windows fans will still find plenty to love.

"First and foremost the Elite x3 is designed for the enterprise and corporate market," said Gracey.  "It plays to our strength, and it plays to a part of the market that isn't being satisfied at the moment."

"We still wanted to make sure we made a highly capable premium handset, and people have noticed. Arguably, [Windows Mobile] isn't viable in the consumer market, but there's still a very loyal fan base who've been waiting for a [phone like the Elite x3]".

Key specifications include a 5.96-inch Quad HD display, Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of expandable storage, and a 4,150mAh battery with wireless charging. The Elite x3 charges over USB Type-C, and has an iris sensor and rear-facing fingerprint reader for biometric authentication. Front and rear-facing cameras are set at 8MP and 16MP.

The HP Elite x3 is available through Telstra and Optus' business divisions on a contract, or outright through HP. The phone itself will set you back $1,099, or $1,199 when bundled with a Desk Dock. Extra Desk Docks retail for $199, while the Mobile Extender goes for $799.

Gracey says devices like the Elite x3 will challenge the way people work; they look like are phone, but as capable as a PC, and allow users to keep all of their data on one device.

"The question isn't whether these kind of devices will become more popular, but with who."

Even if the HP Elite x3 isn't your next smartphone, it could very well be the shape of things to come.

HP has yet to make any announcements about future smartphone plans, but Gracey told WhistleOut that the Elite x3 won't just be a one-off, and that company is "in this for the long run".


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