Why it's NOT insane to buy an HP Elite x3 Windows phone in 2017

In May 2016, I wrote about why I used a Lumia 950 XL. That was something that people were actually asking me. And that was 16 months ago!

We're now in what's basically the death knells of Windows 10 Mobile, app support is at its lowest yet, and I still just went out and bought the finest Windows phone ever made: The HP Elite x3.

And I love it. Here's why.

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Great hardware and design

Regardless of the software it runs, the HP Elite x3 is an extremely handsome phone. The large screen is fantastic, it's slim and light, and the soft touch finish on the rear is top notch.

When HP announced it some 18 months ago, I remember telling the company rep who showed it to me at Mobile World Congress that they'd just machine gunned the phone with every high-end spec they could have at the time. While it's no longer the barnstormer it was back then, it's still a high-end piece of hardware.

The CPU is powerful, there's more than enough internal storage without considering a microSD card slot and you get two methods of using Windows Hello. What's not to like?

And that "chin" just finishes it off. Sure, it's a mostly-black rectangle like all the other black rectangles. But it's got just enough to make it stand out in a crowd.


Even though Microsoft has essentially killed this incredible idea, it still works very well. It's been a while since I looked at Continuum, and to say I was surprised how many of my daily-use apps support it would be an understatement.

In fact, aside from Slack, there's nothing I use a lot that doesn't support Continuum. Oh, and the Xbox app. Really, Microsoft?

Not only this but the Elite x3 is the best experience I've ever had with Continuum. The added power over my old Lumia 950 XL makes a difference, and throwing in a high-quality dock with the phone means I want to use it. I've even been able to do a lot of my work with it (experimenting, but also very happy with the result.) Apart from needing to jump into Photoshop a couple of times for comfort, I've been able to get an awful lot done using my new phone.

Wireless Continuum is also very good on the Elite x3, better than any other phone I've used. Again, likely because of the quality of the hardware, but the experience is very smooth and fairly snappy when beaming to the 4K TV in my front room.

I could really use the Lapdock accessory. Shame it's so damned expensive in the UK.

I really like Windows mobile

HP Elite X3

HP Elite X3 (Image credit: Windows Central)

There aren't many apps, but that doesn't actually bother me. Most of the ones I use regularly are third-party and (so far) remain well supported. The app gap has never been that big for me, aside from losing PayPal and having no HSBC app, there's not a lot else I really need.

I'm lucky enough that the job I do gives me an excuse to have other phones. And while my personal phone, if you can call it that, is an iPhone, I still get most of my actual daily grind done with a Windows phone. My whole family uses the iPhone, so it makes sense to have one for easy communication, and it's handy for those apps I need that I can't get on Windows.

And for playing Pokemon Go.

But every time I use it or an Android phone, I pick up a Windows phone again and feel a sense of relief and comfort. I love the OS, how it looks, how it operates, and even if Microsoft doesn't care anymore, I'll keep using it until it really doesn't work.

The battery life is insane

Part of the reason for retiring my 950 XL was the subpar battery life. Even a new battery didn't help. It's not that big and the processor inside it is particularly thirsty.

By contrast, the Elite x3 is a brute. I'd heard great things about it before picking one up, and I'm happy to say it didn't disappoint. It supports quick charge, wireless charging, and it has more than enough life to get through a demanding day.

It's not quite as good as the Idol 4S or Idol 4 Pro, I don't think, but it's close enough.

Wrapping up

I bought an Elite x3 and I don't regret it one bit. Not even at the price, though I got a huge discount by getting an open box item from eBay. I wouldn't recommend it to my friends, but that's not a knock on this phone at all.

As a piece of hardware, the x3 and its ecosystem are excellent. It's well designed, beautifully made and solid as a rock. As a fan of the platform, it's easy to love, even if there are times it still makes you want to throw it out of the window.

Perhaps worst of all, buying this amazing phone makes me sad that Microsoft doesn't seem to care anymore. Continuum is a tremendous idea, and on the x3 its executed exceptionally well. But without development from the company that makes the OS, it's all going to be pointless eventually.

This may well be the last Windows phone I ever buy. But at least I'm going out on a high note.

If you too would like an HP Elite x3, right now they're down to $599 at the Microsoft Store.

See at Microsoft

Richard Devine
Managing Editor - Tech, Reviews

Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine