5 things I love (and 5 things I don't) about the HP Elite x3

I've been using the Elite x3 for several weeks now, so much so I've actually had time to drop it, shatter the screen, get it repaired and continue using it. It's been a great several weeks, and I've received lots of questions in regards to my experience. With our full review already live here, I thought it'd be a good idea to write up a more simplified list of things that I personally like and dislike about the HP Elite x3. Let's get started.

Five things I like about the HP Elite x3

1. Beautiful and considered design

It was a surprise to me when I first opened the box, but the HP Elite x3 is a beautiful handset. It feels great in the hand, and is definitely a step up over the Lumia 950 and 950 XL, although that's not exactly hard to achieve. HP has payed attention to pretty much everything when it comes to design, from the materials used for the body to the way the vibration motor feels when receiving a text message. Everything just feels like it had extra care put towards it when in the design room, and you can really feel it.

2. The screen is huge and gorgeous

The HP Elite x3 is rocking the best screen available on any Windows 10 Mobile handset.

The HP Elite x3 is rocking the best screen available on any Windows 10 Mobile handset. Not just in sheer size, but the clarity and brightness just blow anything the Lumia 950 and 950 XL have to offer out the water. The Elite x3's screen is bright and beautiful, and when compared alongside the likes of the 950 XL, really shows how much more effort HP put into their screen technology compared to Microsoft's year-old Lumias. HP has done an excellent job with this 5.96 inch 2560x1440 AMOLED display.

3. Battery life forever

In what's probably the standout feature of the Elite x3 (at least for me), battery life is just astounding. I'm confident in saying the Elite x3 features the best battery life on an Windows 10 Mobile to date, and would go so far as to say it's the best battery life on any of the high-end smartphone offerings available right now. I can easily get a full day's life with medium to high usage and still have 30% left by the day's end. Not only that, but with QuickCharge 3.0, I can charge back up in less than an hour! Fantastic.

4. Docking up with the Desk Dock

The HP Elite x3 comes bundled with a Desk Dock, which allows for easy setup with Continuum. The Desk Dock is a beautiful and premium accessory that looks great sitting next to a monitor, with the added bonus of USB ports, an Ethernet jack, a DisplayPort and USB-C port. HP also bundles a number of swappable Desk Dock covers to accommodate the three cases that HP offers for the Elite x3. They've really thought of everything!

5. The x3 bit

The HP Elite x3 is called the "x3" for a reason. HP is positioning the Elite x3 as the one device that can be your smartphone, desktop and laptop. That's 3 devices, all in one device. With the Desk Dock, the actual smartphone, and the upcoming Lap Dock, HP has really nailed the "Continuum experience" on the head with different options for every kind of user. I'm personally excited to try out the Lap Dock, which should be available this November.

Make sure you check out our full HP Elite x3 review here!

Five things I don't like about the HP Elite x3

1. The camera struggle is real

I've had many issues with the HP Elite x3's camera. At first, it would constantly crash on me, to the point in which saving pictures was a problem. Luckily, HP has since released a couple firmware updates that for the most part mend this, although the issue isn't completely gone. Not only that, but the camera still needs optimization improvements, as I am constantly struggling to take a good picture. Don't get me wrong, the Elite x3's camera is a capable shooter, but the current software optimizations make it real hard to take "good" photos.

2. Double whack to wake

The HP Elite x3 does support Double Tap To Wake, which is a neat feature that most high-end smartphones support these days, but the Elite x3 does it a bit different. Instead of using the capacitive screen to detect a double tap, it uses the accelerometer instead. This causes all kinds of odd anomalies, including a high failure rate when actually trying to double tap to wake the phone up. There are options to adjust its sensitivity, but no matter what I do, I can't get it "working" properly. Luckily, it can be turned off, which is what I've done for now.

3. Awkward fingerprint scanner placement

This is definitely a personal preference of mine, but I dislike the location of the fingerprint scanner. I find it to be in a slightly awkward position, being directly in the middle on the upper half of the back of the device. It's where many smartphone manufactures are putting the fingerprint scanner, and I'm just not a fan of it. It's great when using the device with two hands, but can be slightly uncomfortable when using with one hand — at least HP built in an iris scanner too.

4. Should this be faster?

The Elite x3 is rocking a Snapdragon 820 processor, which is the fastest available on any Windows phone to date. Unfortunately, it doesn't exactly feel that way. I'm assuming some firmware optimizations are still needed, but the Elite x3 is just barely faster in day-to-day use. On paper, and in tests, it is faster, but when compared side-by-side with a Lumia 950 XL, they're basically on par, with the Elite x3 sometimes being a tiny bit slower. Peculiar, indeed.

5. Empty out your wallet

The HP Elite x3 is expensive. It's only available with the Desk Dock, bringing the price tag to $799. That's way out of many budgets.

Let's face it, the HP Elite x3 is expensive. Right now, you can only buy one with the added Desk Dock, which bumps the price an extra $100 to $799. That's in no way cheap, and for many consumers is way out of their budget. Buying an Elite x3 is an expensive proposition, and more often than not I simply cannot recommend the Elite x3 to friends based on that alone. Not everybody has the budget to spend that much on a phone, much less one that's not going to be hundreds of dollars more capable than competing devices. But if you can afford it, it's absolutely worth the cost of entry.

I personally think the HP Elite x3 is the best Windows phone yet. I'm extremely happy with my Elite x3 — after using it for the past several weeks I've retired by my old Lumia 950 XL. If you're a die-hard Windows phone user that must have the very best, then the Elite x3 is your absolute best choice.

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Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter and Threads