Hi-Tech articles 2021: hardware, software, phones & gadgets reviews

Best Windows phone smartphone 2021 HP X3 Elite – review

Best Windows phone smartphone - HP x3 Elite
Phone HP x3 Elite on Windows 10

In early 2016, HP demonstrates one of the best Windows phone smartphone – HP x3 Elite on Windows 10 Mobile. The approach to creating this device is typical for HP, borrowed from R&D laptops and computers.

The recipe is outrageously simple – take the best components on the market, integrate them together, add enterprise applications like encryption, VPN, security policies, and at the same time make the device with the maximum lifecycle in terms of fault tolerance.

With this approach, a mass device obviously cannot be obtained, the best components automatically lead to maximum cost, and positioning moves from the mass market to the corporate segment. It is on B2B that potential

  • HP Elite x3 users live, since for them the price does not look too high, and the fact that the device runs on Windows 10 Mobile is not a disadvantage at all, but an advantage.

It is common knowledge that Microsoft in 2016 curtailed the development of its best Windows phone smartphone, killed the Lumia line, and is currently selling the remnants of these devices.

In such a situation, it seems that other manufacturers should not be eager to enter the smartphone market with Windows solutions, since Microsoft’s failure speaks for itself.

  • In fact, the main question is in positioning and for whom such devices are created. In the mass market, Windows smartphones did not take off and could not be popular, there are many reasons for this, and the main one is the operating system, which differs sharply from Android / iOS.

In a rather narrow corporate market, the disadvantages of Windows smartphones for the user exist, but they are secondary, since often completely different requirements are imposed on devices and they are given different tasks.

The corporate user is not worried about the absence of some fashionable toy on the phone, but connecting to the corporate network and gaining access to databases comes to the fore.

Best Windows phone smartphone 2021 HP X3 Elite review

As well as the ability to run regular software from a computer on a phone without regard to compatibility. Microsoft’s temporary departure from the smartphone market has allowed companies like HP to create and sell enterprise devices quite successfully.

  • Moreover, HP went further than all competitors, they created a dream device, adding everything they could and what a corporate user might need in theory.

If you are choosing a phone for yourself and your personal needs, then most likely, the best Windows phone smartphone HP X3 Elite will not suit you – it is large, expensive, and some functions will not be available to you, and you will not need it.

  • On the other hand, for geeks who love Microsoft, this device can become an outlet, as it will allow waiting for the Surface Phone, which, apparently, will only be released in 2018.

Therefore, when we discuss the HP Elite x3, keep in mind that it was not created for the mass market, but for the corporate segment, this explains many of the solutions used in the device.

Design, dimensions, controls of best Windows phone smartphone HP Elite x3

Dark gray plastic is the main body material and can be seen on the back surface and sides. Almost no handprints remain on it, it is very practical.

The rejection of metal in the design is explained by the need to lighten the weight of the device (194 grams), as well as to achieve maximum protection against falls.

Best Windows phone smartphone 2021 HP X3 Elite review

HP was able to not only add IP67 protection against water and dust (30 minutes at a depth of up to a meter), but also achieve MIL-STD 810G military-grade drop protection.

  • Usually phones with this type of protection look more massive, have rubber inserts, they are huge. The best Windows phone smartphone HP X3 Elite does not look huge, just remember that the thickness of the case is slightly less than 0,31 inch, and the dimensions are 6,37 x 3,29 x 0,31 inch.

There are no analogues with a comparable level of protection in the corporate market, this is the only device. There are also very few such models on the mass market.

They can be counted on the fingers of two hands. Interestingly, large corporations create their own solutions with comparable security standards, but their cost turns out to be prohibitively high due to low circulation – it can be 3-5 thousand dollars per device. At the same time, other characteristics look worse than in the same .

The appearance of the best Windows phone smartphone is discreet, the only bright element is the silver speaker insert on the bottom of the case.  It dramatically breaks out of the general style of the device, although in life it does not irritate or looks somehow sloppy.

  • It bears the B&O inscription, as there are speakers equal to B&O Play devices, this is the company’s budget line. The declared stereo speakers are present, since when playing music or watching a video, both the upper earpiece speaker and the lower one work.

At maximum volume, they do not sound very vociferous, the reason is that there are membranes that do not allow water to pass through, but the call is heard, and listening to music in speakerphone mode is not necessary for a few, but watching a video will not cause problems.

The vast majority of IP67 devices from second-tier manufacturers have one microphone, HP engineers have added three microphones that effectively implement noise cancellation and amplify your voice.

As a result, there are no problems during a conversation, the interlocutor hears you well, regardless of where you are – on a wind-blown hill or in a noisy subway.

  • The volume of the spoken speaker may not be enough for you in noisy places, although I have not been in such a noisy environment, the voice, albeit muffled, can be heard even at the moment the train approaches the station, when everything is thundering around.

Best Windows phone smartphone 2021 HP X3 Elite review

The presence of two nanoSIM cards is more a tribute to the times and the market than a real need for best Windows phone smartphone HP X3 Elite users, this model uses one radio module.

The design of the slot is made in such a way that you can remove it with your finger, there is no need for a paper clip. For this, you can put a bold plus.

But it was not without its drawbacks, so if you put the nano SIM in the far compartment, then when installing the tray, you need to slide it into the slot carefully, there is a possibility that the card will be skewed.

  • This will not cause problems, you just have to reinstall the SIM card. Since the slot is combined, you can install one SIM card and a memory card. But I am sure that most users will use only one SIM card in this device.

On the right side are the on / off button and volume keys. The 3.5 mm jack was taken out to the top end, but the USB Type C (USB 3.0) connector is on the bottom end. The build quality of the smartphone is excellent, there are no complaints, all the parts fit very tightly.

On the back surface you can see the protruding camera module, in everyday life, if you do not use the case, it will touch the table and other surfaces, you can accidentally drop the phone.

  • Therefore, i advise you to choose one of the covers that are offered for this best Windows phone smartphone HP x3 Elite. It can be a leather book with space for your cards, or just a case.

The fingerprint sensor is located on the back surface; this is not a physical key, but a contact pad. Since there is a bezel around the sensor, you can press it blindly. The sensor works perfectly, you can register several fingers, it recognizes them quickly.

  • Below you can see 5 pins, this is the POGO connector, it is often used in industrial devices, since it allows you to put the device on charging in a glass without plugging it into the connector, which saves time.

This is another sign that the was built to a different standard than a mass-market smartphone. Above the screen is a front-facing camera, as well as a retina scanner, the same one installed on the Lumia 950/950 XL.

The Windows Hello option has never made it out of beta, but this is a question for Microsoft, which is in no hurry to finalize it.

My impression is that the scanner works a little faster than on the Lumia, where it took about a second, maybe a couple of seconds in low light conditions. As for me, it’s a toy, the fingerprint sensor is more reliable and more convenient.

Display of this phone

Diagonal 5.96 inches, WQHD (2560×1440 pixels, 494 ppi), AMOLED, Corning Gorilla Glass 4, anti-reflective coating, automatic brightness control.

Best Windows phone smartphone 2021 HP X3 Elite review

A very good screen is hidden behind the dry characteristics, since they added a built-in anti-reflective coating to it, even in the sun the information is readable. For such a screen diagonal, this is an important function, otherwise it would be uncomfortable to use it.

  • The brightness of the display has a sufficient margin, I set mine to 50%, this is the level that is comfortable in most tasks. Fingerprints remain on the screen, and they are noticeable, but no one expected anything else, everything is typical here and the same as on any other device with such a diagonal.

Separately, you can buy screen protectors, there is a film that removes traces of hands, there is protection against falls (additional to the one that is built-in), and there is also a film against prying eyes of others, the picture is visible when you look at the screen at a right angle.

In summary, I can say that the screen is good, above average in quality and applicable in all conditions, there will be no problems with it.


The capacity of the built-in Li-Ion battery is 4150 mAh, which is a kind of record for a best Windows phone smartphone HP x3 Elite . The minimum operating time under full load (constant data transfer in LTE, about 3.5 hours of screen operation) is a little less than a day.

  • Playback time for HD video at maximum brightness is about 9 hours. On average, the Elite x3 lasted about 1.5-2 days with an average load.

This is a decent runtime, which is expected given the size of the battery. The complete charger does not have fast charging, but fully charges the battery in about 2 hours (5.3V, 2A). Please note that third-party chargers (5V, 2A) will charge the device for about 3-3.5 hours.

Wireless charging (WPC (Qi) / PMA) is also built into the case, with which the full charging time is about 4 hours. You can use the original HP charger, it even has a camera recess.

In terms of battery life, the Elite x3 turned out to be very good, there is no need to constantly look around for a power outlet, despite the size of the screen.

Chipset, performance, memory of best Windows phone smartphone HP X3 Elite

Chipset Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 MSM 8996 (4 cores up to 2.15 GHz), graphics accelerator Adreno 530. Since the device was created at the end of 2015, such a chipset was chosen, there was nothing better at that time.

  • It is impossible to say that Snapdragon 820 is outdated, this chipset will be enough for all tasks in the next few years. And the fact that the smartphone costs 4 GB of memory ensures quick launch of applications, correct operation.

There are no slowdowns in the interface, everything works as quickly as possible.
You can install memory cards up to 2 TB, which is a big plus for those who need to transfer large amounts of data or just have them at hand.

Communication capabilities

Everything is at the level of the best devices – 802.11a / b / g / n / ac (2×2) Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 LE combo (Miracast); WWAN: 2G / 3G / 4G, LTE-A, NFC. There are no complaints about the work of GPS, everything is fine.


The front 8-megapixel camera is normal, selfies are good, plus or minus. The main camera is 16-megapixel (f / 2.2), it has a simple and familiar interface, the photos are of average quality, inferior to the same Lumia 950.

But, in general, for such a device it’s not bad, not at the level of the latest flagships, but it was difficult expect.

Software Features – Desktop Dock, Laptop and Cryptography

There is no point in talking in detail about Windows 10 Mobile, since the system is known and we have a separate review of its capabilities.

Best Windows phone smartphone 2021 HP X3 Elite review

You can find several programs from HP, for example, emulation of the company’s iconic calculator.
There is also the management of printers, various utilities for checking the device and its components, as well as a selection of programs from Hewlett-Packard, but there is rather poor.

Best Windows phone smartphone the Elite x3 uses FIPS 140-2 (US Approved Cryptography) encryption and encrypts all data, including CPU controlled secure boot plus data encryption everywhere.

  • In terms of these parameters, the smartphone is very close to Blackberry solutions, where the emphasis is also on encryption and protection from outside interference.

In some configurations, the HP Elite x3 comes with a docking station that allows you to install your smartphone with or without a case. On the overlays, a variant of a cover for a smartphone with a case is indicated, a trifle, but a very pleasant one.

On the docking station, you can find a full DisplayPort, two USB 3.0 ports, as well as USB Type C. Each of the ports can serve for charging.

This docking station reminded me of the one from Microsoft, in principle, they are interchangeable. But Microsoft has this separate device, you can’t charge your phone in it, but here you can. Also Microsoft does not have an Ethernet connector. For corporate users, this can be important.

  • But another accessory may interest corporate users even more, this is a full-fledged laptop, in which expensive memory, a processor are removed, it plays the role of a thin client in relation to the phone.

Such a “laptop” is called Lap Dock, and it costs from $ 600. As for me, this is quite expensive for such a machine, it has a 12.5-inch FHD screen, a spill-resistant keyboard, a battery that lasts for 6 hours of wireless operation and up to 7 hours when connected via a wire.

To connect to Lap Dock, either Miracast or USB Type C cable is used, choose whichever is more convenient for you. I’m, of course, more interested in the wireless connection.

  • The very concept of “2 in 1” devices appeared more than ten years ago, the pioneer was Motorola, but no one was able to develop this direction.

I don’t think HP can do it better, but the idea is sound and deserves attention. The implementation technically looks like this – you are using the standard Continuum function, which means that all applications open on the Lap Dock screen from your best Windows phone smartphone.

As a rule, these are only supported universal Windows applications, there is no usual multitasking, but you work from your phone. The apps, of course, look simpler than their PC versions.

  • Nevertheless, for a part of the audience, this is a good offer, since the same corporate laptop from HP in the same size will cost significantly more. As a typewriter or a tool for working in MS Office, the capabilities of such a station are enough for the eyes.

And now it’s time to tell you about the HP Workspace application, which allows you to launch both on the phone and, accordingly, on the Lap Dock, ordinary Windows applications written for the x86 architecture.

This is a kind of Citrix-like service, a remote client that allows you to access your files and programs. But if in Citrix you get access to your PC, then here you install your applications in the cloud from HP.

There are two subscription options for the service – Essential and Premium. In the first option, you will pay $ 49 per month ($ 579 per year), in the second, $ 79 per month ($ 939 per year).

  • If you need a VPN, the cost for a year is $ 2,995! Whenever I look at corporate rates, I start to think and look at the ceiling.

In the Premium account, your applications are installed on a virtual server with 8 GB of RAM, in the initial account it is 4 GB, and there is also a limit for 10 installed applications.

Curiously, while doing this, HP does not provide any space for your files, it is assumed that you already have cloud storage that you can connect.

For corporate users, the offered opportunities are interesting, for everyone else it is expensive and, as a result, inaccessible.

General smartphone experience

There are no complaints about the quality of the connection, the call, as it was said, is not the loudest, but it is audible. Speech transmission is good.

HP has turned out to be an excellent device for corporate users, here you have both the maximum level of encryption and the presence of full protection against water and shock, vibration.

There is simply nothing similar on the market for Windows smartphones, and there has never been, it is impossible to bring analogs.

  • It is in the corporate environment that the HP Elite x3 may open up, but for a private buyer it will be expensive, and half of the possibilities will be superfluous.

The same Lumia 950/950 XL can be considered as a replacement for the Elite x3, but only by those who have nothing to do with the B2B segment.

Starting at $ 800 in the United States, the device is expensive for the end user. But for the world of large corporations, this is a very reasonable price, since the HP Elite x3 should be considered here as part of a large system, and not a separate device.

  • Considering the degree of protection and the size of the battery, we can assume that the life cycle of a smartphone from HP will be at least two to three years. And obsolescence here fades into the background, since first of all it is a working tool, not a toy.

All in all – an excellent corporate smartphone for large companies with complex IT systems and non-trivial tasks. But not a very necessary smartphone for an ordinary consumer, he simply cannot understand and appreciate all the highlights of this best Windows phone smartphone. Well, read also my post Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G.


Best Windows phone smartphone 2021 HP X3 Elite review

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