Review of the HP Elite x3 Rugged Case

HP's Elite x3 with Windows 10 Mobile is still a newcomer to the computing world, but that doesn't mean it can't have some great accessories. Besides the included Desk Dock HP is trickling out a small cadre of neat add-ons like cases, adapters, screen protectors, and more.

The Elite x3 Rugged Case is likely one that will pique interest for owners of the three-in-one device. Not only is it relatively thin, but it adds some shock protection and a bit of grip for those with butter fingers.

What it is

The HP Elite x3 Rugged Case is built to protect, but not quite at the level of the famed Otterbox contraptions. HP describe the case like this:

Shield your HP Elite x3 from whatever the day may bring with the anti-slip grip, shock-absorbing HP Elite x3 Rugged Case, which is designed to pass MIL-STD drop testing up to 6 feet (1.8 m)

The case is open faced so you won't get much in the way of display protection. It does, however, have a small lip around the screen to offer some protection when placing it face down.

HP Elite x3 Rugged Case

HP Elite x3 and Rugged Case
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Dimensions (WxHxD)3.47 x 6.55 x .4 in
88.09 x 166.43 x 10.20 mm
Weight0.07 lbs (32 g)
MaterialsPC, TPU

The case is "100% plastic with carbon fiber texturing", which refers to the very elegant and attractive back. It is not clear if the case is really carbon fiber, or is just meant to look like carbon fiber.


The HP Rugged Case can be bought direct from HP around the globe from their regional online stores. The price is £10.80 (opens in new tab) or about $14 USD, which is quite affordable.

Due to limited availability, some online retailers are gouging a bit with prices hitting $30 USD or more. However, that pricing is not reflective of the official cost.

Why it's great

The Elite x3 Rugged Case is surprisingly lean. In fact, if anything it makes holding and typing on the Elite x3 a bit easier since the phone is already quite thin without a case.

Unlike the more feature-rich Leather Folio Case the Rugged Case for the Elite x3 is quite basic. You just pop the phone in, and you are ready to go. Removing it is also very easy by peeling back the corner.

The Rugged Case is relatively thin and gives access to all of the Elite x3's ports

The Rugged Case is relatively thin and gives access to all of the Elite x3's ports

The back of the case is rigid (the carbon fiber part) while a thick TPU edge covers the sides of the phone.

HP left small lanyard holes near the top, which they say can be used with their Passive Stylus accessory (that stylus comes with a cord).

For those curious, the case does not interfere with Qi wireless charging in the slightest. You also still have easy access to the fingerprint reader and camera as expected.

The Elite x3 & Rugged Case fit perfectly in the HP Desk Dock

The Elite x3 & Rugged Case fit perfectly in the HP Desk Dock

Also, because the HP Desk Dock ships with four different holster plates (3 varying sizes for cases; 1 for no case and extension cable) you can pick the plate meant for the Rugged Case. The plates are magnetic requiring no tools to swap.

The Rugged Case does cover the side power and volume buttons on the Elite x3. Like other cases in this category HP uses faux buttons to make up the difference. The buttons are very tactile and easy to discern without looking at the phone directly. There is a little extra effort require to push the buttons, but there are no false presses and things work as expected.

Finally, HP says the case is designed to pass MIL-STD 810G drop and shock testing. It should be noted that there is no formal certification for MIL-STD 810G, rather companies build products that can survive internally tested scenarios following recommendations set by the United States Military. HP claims the phone should survive with the Rugged Case from a drop of 6 feet (1.8 m) or less.

What I don't like

The only issue I had was with the headphone jack. Seeing as the case adds depth to the various portholes, the headphone jack becomes a little deeper making a connection more tenuous. To be fair, I had zero issues with the Elite x3's included headphones (which are super nice); only my third-party Bose sports headphones lost the connection on occasion.

HP Elite x3 Rugged Case

The headphone jack may be too recessed for 3rd party headphones

All of this, of course, depends on how big the adapter stem is on your headphones of choice, so your experience may vary.

Final Thoughts

The Elite x3 Rugged Case is a great accessory to help protect your new three-in-one Windows 10 device. The cost is more than fair, and the protection level seems more than adequate for an occasional drop or slip.

The case still does not sufficiently protect the giant display on the Elite x3 – at least not fully – so if your screen hits a table corner it could still be damaged. However, the bumper around the edge will absorb most shock should you lose your grip.

The case does not add much bulk to the phone at all, and it leaves the phone still pocketable (assuming you are fine putting a 6-inch phone in a pocket). I also just like the way the Elite x3 feels with the case – it just a little more secure.

Finally, the carbon fiber back and design is very svelte and keep the Elite x3 looking sharp in addition to providing some protection. Overall, HP's Elite x3 Rugged Case has a great design, pricing, and functionality.

For those looking for something less rugged and more professional make sure to check my Elite x3 Wallet Folio Leather Case review!

Further Reading

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • Using this over the Folio case, much prefer it. Hopefully won't break this one :P
  • Always a tough choice between protecting the display and easy access ;)
  • Daniel.. At this price do you think it would be nice if this case came complimentary? Yes, or no?
  • What an odd question. Do I think it's swell when companies throw in free stuff (like headphones)? Why would I say 'no' to that? Nonetheless, for one, if you're spending $799 on a 3-in-1 device so what's an extra $14? Is that the tipping point? Two, not everyone wants this case and would prefer wallet folio or the silicone version. I also don't know what "at this price" means. Without the Desk Dock, this is a $650 phone, which is the market value for the hardware included.
  • Lol.. I knew you would say something smart ass like that... You know I mean from a logical expectation. Either way, I feel you.
  • No disrespect intended here, but silly question silly answer comes to mind. Anyway, fwiw I've got both the folio and rugged x3 cases and they are both worth their own buy price. I prefer the folio for the x3 personally for screen protection and landscape viewing of screen.
  • Daniel, may i ask, where can i order one without the desk dock? i just want this phone and $650 for the phone itself is good to me. 
  • Daniel, Just wondering where this is $14? I paid $44 directly from HP...
  • I've just changed to the folio case from the rugged one, I prefer the screen protection. Rugged case it's very good though.
  • I think it looks nice even though it is "rugged". That word is sometimes code for "oh we want protection so this is going to be ugly."
  • Heaphone jacks are sooo last year.  Just put some silly putty in it and get some BT headphones. :D
  • For anyone who is interested. The HP Store is again taking orders for a ship date of 10-4. The EPP discount no longer applies.
  • The case is 100% plastic, so NOT carbon fibre....
  • I am still waiting for the Folio, which apparently is traveling to the States by goverment mule.  I wouldn't mine paying a premium if I could get it overnight, but I've seen asking prices of $49 to $99 on Google and Amazon.  I fondly recall the good old days when RIM would launch it's new devices with terrific leather cases included.   For something as expensive as the x3, it's not unreasonable to expect the manufacturer would have something available to protect it right at launch, and at numbers comensurate with the sales of the device itself.   And while I'm at it, HP should offer a two-dock deal, so you have one at home and one at the office.  
  • Okay grandpa. xD
  • Great review, anyone who found a good working sportsarmband for the Elite x3 ?
  • I'll be looking at that soon as I need one for the gym.
  • Great Daniel, I need it for my running.
  • Wish I could get a case that looked like this for my (RIP) Lumia 950!
  • Why RIP? Did you drop it and break it?
  • Yeah once already. Paid a lot more for the 2nd replacement. Now it's in a cheap Amzer case!
  • I'm missing a very relevant piece of information in this article. Can I dock the elite X3 with the case on?
  • Yes! Good point I forgot to mention. Will amend. Edit: Updated and added a photo for good measure.
  • The thing I LOVE about what HP have done is how they have thought about these small details. The changeable plastic slots for the dock that fits the various accessories is the sort of things a lot of companies would easily overlook. You can really sense they did what they say they did in terms of really listening to what customers want and thinking deeply about how the product would be used in the real world.
  • Agree. It's a really well thought out ecosystem. Pretty impressive out the gate for HP.
  • Only thing missing is a bespoke car dock
  • Double post!
  • Not a bad option, given the price. I always want my case to gave that lip, as opposed to the Otterbox Defender's built-in screen protector. Wouldn't mind something similar in my 950, though my $8 kickstand case has done a fantastic job of protecting it (survived hitting tile and falling face down on a golf course cart path).
  • Wish there was a kickstand back cover for the 950/XL, I don't really like cases but that would be amazing as a back cover
  • I'm using the Olixar back cover with kick stand on my 950.
  • In my business we call it carbon fibber. When its a decal it is called "added lightness". The phone is nice though. But so is this Icon.
  • Wait!  Where is this being sold for $30?  I'd be happy to pay that, I can't find this case anywhere domestically. 
  • eBay, I assume. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Daniel, can you give us an update on how the x3 performs now after having used it for a while with new firmware and official anniversary update?
  • Rock solid, much faster day to day use, no random reboots with either camera or continuum. Camera far better though could be better at focussing on the target image, battery life excellent. Massive improvement over original state and over 950xl.
  • Anybody tried charge hp elite x3 with qi car wireless dock nokia cr-201?classic nokia dt-900 qi wireless charger works without problem but nothing wit car one even without case. Anybody?
  • Mozo never give us protective cases. Shame on them and microsoft