HP Elite x3 Windows Phone & Lapdock review - one device that does it all, but in the future

HP Elite x3 was announced last year I was happy to see a new flagship Windows phone, but what enticed me even more was the HP Elite Lapdock that could according to HP be paired with the phone to essentially consolidate one’s phone and laptop needs to a single device. That’s all great, but I really wanted to try it out for myself and see if it actually worked out for my day to day needs.

There are other detailed reviews of HP Elite x3 Phone and Lapdock that go deeply into technical aspects of the devices. Some are more favorable, others not so much, so I will leave it up to you to pick your camp. The point of my review is to share the experiences of the user who would buy these devices for the functionality above any other reasoning. Therefore as you will see in my pictures, I have purposely left all of the fingerprints and smudges, just as all of us would have in a daily use.

Lets start with the HP Elite x3 Phone:

The good:

  • The phone feels solid with performance on par with other SD 820 phones
  • Windows phone platform is intuitive enough to quickly get used to it, and things are easy to find
  • It is a solid device for web, calls, and MS Office use
  • Battery lasted a whole day of use
  • Usable rear camera
  • It comes with a convenient dock

The not so good:

  • While the phone feels solid, the build screams anything but premium. The rubbery plastic case is finger print magnet and is quite slippery. The bottom shiny part is plastic, and is poorly fitted, giving it a rather tacky feel.
  • I love big screen, but huge bezels make it a rather large device even for my hands
  • IR camera was rather useless, and fingerprint scanner is on the back. Positioning it a business device, HP should at least look at typical use cases. Many of us leave the device on their desks in silent to see any notifications or updates, having to flip the phone of having to put a pin every time is not convenient, especially during meetings :blush: (yes, we all do that)
  • Lack of some common apps from Android or iOS and sometimes lack of any substitutes

HP Elite x3 Phone is a decent attempt and for most part it works well for daily needs. I personally would not keep one for the fact that $799 doesn’t really go nearly as far in terms of build quality and features as one would expect. It almost feels that if HP just licensed any high-end Android phone and made a Windows build for it, it would have been much more successful.

Next up is the HP Elite x3 Lapdock

The good:

  • The build feels solid
  • Screen has small bezels, making good use of chassis’ space
  • The keyboard is decent to type on
  • It has 3X USB-C ports and 1X Micro HDMI

The not so good:

  • The screen is the biggest let down of the whole build, it is dim even for indoors and it is not very vibrant.
  • It not very portable for what it is. It weighs nearly the same as fully dedicated 13.3" Spectre X360 laptop!
  • The build is plastic with some rubbery coating. It is a magnet for dirt and fingerprints. The shiny part on the back is pretty easy to scratch. And the back panel is different color than the rest of the build

  • Observed battery life is quite pathetic at around 4 hours of real use, and that’s without CPU/GPU, very dim screen and lack of touch
  • Speakers are at the bottom, firing into your legs when on the lap
  • Keyboard is not backlit
  • Wireless connection to lapdock from the phone can be spotty or laggy

Things that are beyond HP’s control:

  • The apps that work with Continuum are scarce at the moment and the aps that are available are the mobile version, including MS office suite. This would work fine for Word or even PowerPoint, but one is pretty limited with the rest

  • The productivity applications that we all love and use Windows for cannot run natively on the phone presently. To mitigate this issue somewhat, HP offers a cloud environment where desktop apps can be installed and accessed from the lapdock. Basically this is very similar to remote desktop connection, but in testing the environment was very slow even for opening Word or PP files, and it doesn’t run full screen (typically possible with remote desktop). You also need a reliable and fast internet connection, so accessing these apps on the go might be challenging

This is not an easy one… As you can see from my review, the not so good items seem to outweigh the good, and that is true. Both devices feel somewhat raw, especially the lapdock. It is also true that these devices presently do not deliver on the promise of a single computing device in real day to day life. I could go on and make a whole list of things that could be changed or improved, but instead, with all that in mind I want to express my admiration for the team that worked on these devices and for HP taking the first leap at it spending time and resources. These devices will not sell in large quantities, and I cannot recommend them myself to anyone, unless they are willingly buying them as a gesture of support knowing all the limitations. What I do want though is to encourage HP, Microsoft and other manufacturers to continue with this idea and expand the functionality of such devices, because even in the short and impaired glimpse that I got from the use of HP Elite x3 Phone and Lapdock I could almost taste the sweetness of having one computing device for everything :heart_eyes:


Excellent review! Almost Apple-esque in its approach: what’s under the hood isn’t as important as the experience of using it.

(And even though we tech enthusiasts also want to know what’s under the hood and can spend hours upon hours thinking, ranting, debating and drooling over the innards of any given device, the average consumer really only needs to know that a device will fit their purpose and fit it well.)

I was curious about the Elite x3 but never looked much into it since I already had my Lumia. And I agree with you that though the current implementation has its many flaws, the concept they’re trying to build here could be so, so sweet…

It’s still an eyesore and even in daily use I wipe my phone and MacBook case and display regularly. Then again, I also wipe down my customers’ devices before giving them back to them, so it might just be my own… obsession? compulsion? quirk?


I certainly hope that x4 successor is in the works. There was some talk that SD 835 will have support for x86 emulation which could give it that boost in productivity brining ever so close to the dream of using one computing device :heart_eyes:

Granted, if at this point I’m going to carry around a second device (as I’d have to carry the notebook-lookalike essentially-just-a-screen-and-keyboard-for-your-phone …-thing) it’d probably be my V. But if the technology is further developed, then maybe by the time my V and my 950 are up for replacement there’ll be a proper successor…

Thanking You for this review(s) :kissing_heart: