Unboxing and hands-on with the HP Elite x3 superphone

It's finally happening! The HP Elite x3 is starting its rollout in Europe and other areas, and we've managed to get our hands on one! As with all Windows phones, it's our job to unbox and take a first look at what you can expect with each new handset. With the HP Elite x3, being premium, the unboxing experience is very pleasant. Let's take a closer look.

The HP Elite x3 Desk Dock bundle comes in a super large and special box. Instead of the HP Desk Dock being bundled in a separate box, they pack both together so the unboxing experience is shared between the two of them. The box is organized super nicely, with the HP Elite x3 being on the far left and the Desk Dock being in the middle. Each device has it's cables and literature buried underneath it.

First impressions

First impressions of the HP Elite x3 are as follows; I'm going to enjoy using this device. It's a little on the heavy side, but nothing I wasn't expecting. It's rocking a dual-SIM tray (although you can stick your MicroSD card slot in there in place of a second SIM), and 4GB of RAM although only 3.5GB of it is usable. So far, performance has been okay. It arrived with 10586.420 out of the box and auto updated to 10586.545, no sign of the Anniversary Update unfortunately.

I'm expecting there to be an increase in performance once on the Anniversary Update, only because 10586 is a little clunky even on the most high-end of devices. The handset feels super premium, however I do wish they had gone with an aluminium kind of material rather than plastic for the housing. Regardless, it still feels super nice.

The good news is the HP Elite x3 is supported by the Insider Program, so I can use the Release Preview ring to update to the Anniversary Update with ease. Perhaps Microsoft hasn't begun the Anniversary Update rollout for the HP Elite x3, which is understandable.

So yes, so far I'm loving it. Stay tuned at Windows Central over the coming weeks for a lot more HP Elite x3 coverage, including comparisons between other Windows phones, a full review and more.

Need more? Don't miss our other coverage of the Elite x3 including:

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

272 Comments
  • Yayy!  Alright, going to watch the video now.
  • Finally!
  • Zac is such a flop when it comes to unboxing.. Nice device though.. And to see the phone crashing, not a big deal since the credit goes to the OS as well.. :P
  • Zac could have taken 1 hour extra and reviewed it after the installation of build 14393.67(AU). The experience would have been far far better.
  • I think the way he reviewed it is fair, since it seems like this might be the build that it comes with.
  • That build hasn't been officially released; users shouldn't have to download unofficial builds just to get complete functionality for their device.
      And there's no way in hell enterprise users are going to download Insider builds to use all the device's functionality.
  • It's AU & it is finally released.
  • @Rahul, no it isn't. It doesn't come with the AU out of the box, and he is unable to install it without signing up for the Insider program. That's ridiculous.
  • Really,one cannot run the AU without being an insider. Sorry, I was not aware of that. I thought All supported phone will get the AU irrespective of whether they are insider or not. Oh, now I get it why windows 10 share rose to only 14% from 11% after AU. Microsoft this is going to cost you.
  • One can run the AU without insider.
  • Au stands for Australia, stop confusing us Aussies!
  • Also GOLD!  :)  
  • Yes they will.
  • He's reviewing it as it comes out the box. How an average user will receive it. If it can't get the AU update out the box then that's how he should review it first off, as most people won't opt into the Insider program to update it.
  • Can't review a phone in an hour.
  • Not to mention he said "nice like unboxing an apple product" on Windows Central! hahahaha
  • Zac Bowden opens it like a brute!
  • I agree. And all that "this is boring", "let's throw this away", "nobody reads this", looks quite childish.
  • :( how come?
  • I will give you 10USD just for the BOX thx
  • LoL
  • make it 20$ for the box and the phone :)). put a decent OS on it and we can talk big then :))
  • Salesforce 1? (Still in beta?)
  • YAY!!!
  • Awesome!!!! Please make the camera review first. We already know all about the other stuff.
  • This is true, but I still want to see everything again :) It's a nice looking phone.
  • We know about how fast is SD820 in WP land?
  • Slower than an Apple A9x...and probably also slower than the Note 7 given that the X3 is running pre Anniversary Update software.
  • :))) what :)) you, my friend, just managed to throw the biggest joke ever :))) win 10 mobile is so slow and buggy, and un-optimized that even with an SD900 :)) it would not come close not even to an iphone 6 :)) or a GS6
  • That's exactly what I said! I already know that the Apple A9x processor is the fastest one in the business. I'm not sure if the Note 7 would be quicker than the X3 though. The Note 7 performed horribly vs the iPhone 6S in the PhoneBuff multi tasking tests...
    But yes, there's nothing quicker than an iPhone.
  • I watched a video the other day of them doing that test with the iphone 6 plus, galaxy 6 edge and the 950 xl,  the iphone came in at around 48 secs for two loops of the app list,  the 950 came in at around the 1:25 mark,  and the galaxy came in at the 1:48 mark...Dont quote me on the exact times but it was around that.  SO....using that as a meter stick.  The note 7 would probably a smidge faster than the 950xl.  The iphone 6s will just run away from both.
  • win 10 mobile is so slow and buggy​??  on what phone?
  • Ironically, on this Elite X3....(no Anniversary Update - so ropey performance).
    W10M has been woeful on the 950 for the best part of a year...only improving recently. Pretty marginal on the 550/650 too.
    Windows Phone used to be such an exceptional performer...but as I write this now from a £55 Chinese Android phone, I can't help but think that Windows Mobile is now the poorest performer of all the OS's.
  • That plus finger print scanner and the HP specific double tap to wake advanced settings
  • Are those B&O headphones?
  • I think so....the shining star of an otherwise massively boring device. 
  • This video makes the hype enormous by just prolonging the unboxing. Zac, you're my favorite unboxer from now on.
  • Yah, that bit did kinda drag on and on..... And on.
    Perhaps, Zac should use a sharper knife next time (heh heh)
  • Can't believe it's launching with 10586. That's pretty bizarre.
  • They have something called hp workspace, it's kind of Store within Store and I presume hp needs time to make sure these apps works on W10M RS1, this will be the case in future too.
  • X
  • Windows 10 mobile has travelled a long road after that build. I guess, background downloading and that particular build is the reason it is not that smooth in the video.
  • Also the un-optimized HP apps.
  • Awesome! Wishing the best for the company!
  •     This is Windows Phone in a nuthsell...... Gorgeous hardware (at least until 950/XL) Full of promises....a fingerprint reader that does not work and HP workspaces which is the point of the phone not working at launch. Not on latest version of OS
  • Yeah, so unprofessional. I blame Google for starting this trend, with all the perpetual Beta software they used to release.
  • HP releases an incomplete product running Microsoft's incomplete OS, and it's somehow Google's fault?
  •  incomplete product running Microsoft's incomplete OS??  
  • Friday night drinking game - one shot everytime Zac says "premium" :-)
  • And one shot everytime Zac says "that is very very nice indeed" :P
  • Don't forget "...in all its glory" :D
  • No premium housing or premium camera though.
  • Define "premium." It feels great, it feels durable, and it feels like a high quality product. There's no creaking and the texture is pleasing. On top of that, it also comes with wireless charging. No metal phone comes with that. The only other way HP could've included wireless charging would be a glass back...and that'd be terrible *shudder*
    As for the camera, we'll just have to wait and see.
  • Attention to detail. Actual design rather than generic block. Can be done with polycarbonate as well. Some older Lumias are good examples.
    Hp could have called its soc shop for wireless charging solution https://www.qualcomm.com/news/releases/2015/07/28/qualcomm-becomes-first...
  • And don't you just love those Brits and how they pronounce "hay-ch"?? ;-)
  • As a Brit, I find this odd too. As a kid it was rare to hear it pronounced this way, but now in my fourties I hear it said like this more often than not.
  • Zac, will you be able to test how usable is the HP workspace?  Interested to know how far you can push the x86 program from simple stuff like quickbook to old game like civ 3 to some large database.
  • Sure! When the HP Workspace becomes available, we'll be checking it out.
  • I am interested to see how programs such as Autocad Lt or Revit Lt will work. Lite versions of these programs work well in a 4gb environment. Could solve a lot of problems in my business. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android.. But waiting for the HP Elite so I can get rid of this junkie Galaxy S5...
  • Well its just remote app. Performance is dependent on your internet connection and the resources of the server where the app runs. Lack of proper multi tasking is on hp phone though.
  • I think HP workspae is not free.
  • @ ZAC BOWDEN  Can you test/compare the optional HP pen with the pen for surface pro on th HP Elite X3?   I'm Looking/waiting for a Windows Phone with a pen/stylus that can be used for drawing like the surface Pro tenlets or the Samsung Note 7 phablet. I wonder If this is the one. 
  • You mean like WinMo did in 2003...
  • surface phone.
  • Awesome phone! But honest question, why make the box so big if literally one third of the box is empty?
  • Usually that's to help prevent theft at retail. Not sure if that's the case here.
  • More to come in future retail maybe? Posted via the Windows Central App for Android.. But waiting for the HP Elite so I can get rid of this junkie Galaxy S5...
  • Curious, how does that prevent theft at retail? Just because it's so large it makes it hard to sneak away with?
  • Pretty much, yeah
  • Explains why apple never has it.
    Thanks
  • The big box could be for an 'international travel' version with additional electrical socket adapters. The extra pocket could also be for accessories using the pogo pins that are shipped in same box.
  • The empty part of the box is for the typical MS coming soon part. :)
  • Hahaha
  • Very nice indeed.
  • i see the salesforce app but cant fin it?
  • Damn it looks better than I imagined. Very slick device. Want one. Need one.
  • I had the opportunity to play with one for about 30 minutes. It felt great in the hand, and was very responsive in the dock with a monitor and keyboard. Then it locked (pre-release software) up. But wonderful until then.
  • If they had gone with aluminium they'd have to drop wireless charging. But they could have gone with glass though. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Doesn't it have certain ratings for toughness? Glass wouldn't have allowed for that I bet.
  • My Samsung Galaxy S5 has fake aluminum... So do many other so called premium phones... Posted via the Windows Central App for Android.. But waiting for the HP Elite so I can get rid of this junkie Galaxy S5...
  • Correct, they chose the materials to get the military grade drop protection.
  • That is why I miss my Lumia 822, most durable phone I ever had, it was a tank.  I am hoping the drop protection in the Elite X3 is great, I seem to be the king of dropping my phone.
  • Told by my friend who is a capt.  in the Canadian Army.  Military Grade/Spec means " LOWEST BIDDER"  nothing more!  
  • Canada has an army?
  • Sure do,  just you dont know about it since we only help with our army instead of invade other countries!
  • Indeed it wouldn't. Hence the plastic. They had to choose between toughness or premium. They went with thoughness. I would also pick polycarbonate over aluminium any day. But that's more because I really dislike metal phones and I'm not willing to drop Qi charging just for the sake of a shinny phone. However, if you wask me if I prefer polycarbonate or glass, I'll take glass. If I'm paying 700€ for a phone, it better have premium materials in it.
  • I think glass is the worst material to use. I hate how it feels in hand, and it makes me really uncomfortable using a phone like that. I don't use cases as a rule.
  • Nope, just being cheap. And there is no excuse for that hideous fake metal grille. https://www.qualcomm.com/news/releases/2015/07/28/qualcomm-becomes-first... Perhaps Samsung uses it with Edge and this
    https://www.windowscentral.com/e?link=https2F2Flink...
  • @vhyr: what makes you think the speaker grille is fake metal? I tnink you'll find that the 'hideous fake metal grille' is the same design as used by HP  on its tablets and laptops with B&O speakers. I assumed it was metal and like the design (especially the consistent family look).
  • It's kind of comical how many times Zac bounces from a "premium" statement to a "that's really annoying" statement and back again. But looking forward to the full review!
  • That's basically how I describe the iPhone. Don't worry, it's a compliment ;D
  • Recording the unboxing and adding commentary afterwards? Different.
  • It did feel like that, but I am not sure he did that the whole time?  You typically get too many "umms" or just dead spots as they are thinking about what their hands are doing and not thinking about what their mouth is saying.
  • Just seems too fake for me. Not saying it shouldn't be done that way. Just my preference.
  • this smartphone has generous specs.
  • until you keep reading and see windows 10 mobile....then it goes down hill fast!
  • So windows mobile is only 32bit???
  • yep  
  • So far, performance has been okay. It arrived with 10586.420 out of the box and auto updated to 10586.545, no sign of the Anniversary Update unfortunately.
    10586 ?? ROFLMAO! Already outdated....Everyone that is holding for this phone better keep saving for the iPhone 7. Even Joe Belfiore will be lining up for the new iPhone. 
  • Just get the Note 7.
  • Marshmallow? That's even more obsolete.
  • No it isn't. It will run the same apps as Nougat, and unlike the HP, every part of the phone works out of the box.
  • Still an OS you can use.
  • NOT quite.  WIN10 was obsolete when it was released.  Look at the market share.  Marshmallow can do everything and more than you can on a windows 10 mobile device.  Hell I just fired up my NOTE 1,  and even on ice cream sandwich all the apps were able to be downloaded and used.  The only one that i found that never worked was android wear.  Not bad for an OS that is beyond "obsolete".   a 5 year old device with 5 year old software more useable and more up to date than windows 10 mobile.  pitiful.
  • You ad just butthurt cause you don't know if. You'll even get nougat.
  • Most phone will never get nougat.  andoid 1.0 is enough.  
  • exactly, scroogle needs more of your data.
  • Doesn't seem to need it as bad as Microsof. https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2016/08/windows-10-microsoft-blatantly-dis... Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • why doesnt this ship with the anniversary updated? threshold 2 doesnt even support finger print scanners so why is this shipping with threshold 2?
  • when were the phones packaged and shipped?
  • Wow 30+ comments in and not one negative troll! Thats gotta be a record :) I guess they will stfu because all the usual BS they harp on is pretty much shot to hell....wait for it...wait for it....;)
  • Zac, you should have left the unboxing to someone else ;). Can't wait for the full review.
  • I'm surprised at how unresponsive the phone seems to be.  I expect that from android, but not WM.
  • unresponsive??  
  • I have to say the video is very unprofessional. For a personal YouTube channel it would be OK but for a site like this and especially for reporting about a very expensive product aimed at businesses or enthusiasts, I was expecting a bit more research. So instead of saying 50 times that nobody reads the papers inside such a box, you should have just done that. It's a bit of wasting our time to show things you don't know what they are for. Disappointing, to be honest. Also the video was very blurry.
  • To be fair, it's an unboxing not a review.
  • I did not expect a review. But he has the product, we don't, and he could have invested 5 minutes to read the quick start guide to tell us a bit more.
  • It's just unboxing,the full review is said to be coming
  • How do you intend they pay for the equipment, time, and knowledge to do it the way you want? More ads, more store purchases by us or a subscription to the site? Sometimes as a consumer of site content i start to feel entitled to the most professional quality everything for free.
  • I didn't asked for something, just provided an honest opinion and feedback.
  • Also the sound quality of the recording coupled with accent made the recording VERY difficult to understand.
  • I really don't care about the papers, but I did find it a little bit unprofessional that the box had obviously been unpacked previously as nothing looked properly packed.  The headphone cable was a tangled mess.  Seriously?  Not impressed by this video.
  • Sadly, for those of us in the US who are Verizon Wireless, Sprint or US Cellular customers, its just another disappointment. Seems like the march of sidestepping CDMA carriers continues with no end in sight. By excluding so many people, is there any wonder that Windows Mobile market share continues to collapse in the US?
  • Re: dexman335,
    CDMA isn't widely supported in the world, we should join the rest of the whole world, on GSM.
  • There is no if!
  • Verizon Wireless is, supposedly, in the process of migrating away from CDMA. The current estimate is 2019 for completion. But still, the lack of any new Windows Mobile devices for any existing CDMA carrier is disheartening to say the least. Microsoft and any other OEM that creates GSM only WM devices are taking a risk that customers of those carriers have the "Patience of Job" and are willing to wait for years at a time between new devices while customers of GSM carriers see a conga line of new handsets. In the US, Verizon Wireless is the largest cellular service provider. By sidestepping the carrier as well as Sprint and US Cellular, Microsoft and HP are going to continue to see anemic sales here.
  • Dexman,   I can guarantee you the colapse in the windows mobile market has NOTHING to do with not having CDMA networks included.  They had their own phones,  remember the ICON?  well that sold like........well........not like hot cakes....it has nothing to do with the network, and everything to do with the product being put forth.
  • While nobody really expects the x3, Surface Phone and any other high end device to catapult WM marketshare, bypassing carriers due to the technology that runs their networks in favor of another technology is counter productive. One has to "Pay to Play". Right now Microsoft and HP are not willing to do so...and...that will translate into continued depressed sales figures.
  • Dexman,  that would mean making 2 different phones...A cost they do not,  and cannot incur at this time.  There are very few phones that can be run on both CDMA and GSM networks.
  • The cost to physically create some CDMA variant shouldn't be expensive. Processors can support both systems. Switching antennas and modifying some of the electronics isn't a major stretch. The major costs center around certification and licensing....both of which are reported to be higher for CDMA. But that hearkens back to Pay to Play. Unless OEMs change their way of thinking, when the time comes that they do offer something new for customers of VZW, Sprint, US Cellular etc, regardless of it being current or post CDMA, they will likely find few takers because people moved on after years and years of being passed over due to OEMs being penny-wise/pound foolish.
  • Like any new hardware this phone will have issues for 3-4 months. So who will be the guinea pigs?
  • This is cringe worthy if enterprise customers are receiving devices and having similar performance issues and hardware functions disabled, whether due to current OS branch limitations or not.
  • Agree, but then again IT depts should trial the device very well before making a 50+ purchase order. And it will never pass trials in this state.  
  • So Glad I got one of these, it arrioved yesterday. 10586.545 is glitchy, but hopefully the AU wil arrive sooner ratrher than later!! I'm not going into Insider Preview with this phone, will be patient and hopefully won't be long before the OS iterations catchup with latest build.
  • As expensive as this phone is, the outright freezing when he pressed the home button and the non-functional fingerprint sensor and HP apps are inexcusable. I can understand the phone slowing down during set up, but I've never had a phone completely freeze like that when downloading apps and updates.
  • Amazing, Windows 10 is unresponsive even with this kind of high end hardware.
  • It's busy downloading updates in the background
  • I've tested many Android phones, and I can't remember the last time I've had a phone completely lock up when I did the out of the box updates and installation. Some of them got very slow, but I can't remember the last time I had one completely lock up like the HP did in the video.
  • Snap. And I've tested a lot of Android the phones the last couple of years.
  • this is not an excuse. for f$%$%g sake it has the latest CPU available! do you see a GS7 lock up like this?? not even an old iphone 5 does not lockup when downloading updates...MS fail again!
  • I just fired up my NOTE 1,.   it was doing updates and never lagged.  Thats a 5 year old phone!
  • so to put things in the right perspective .... it lags
  • If HP and Microsoft will not promote this powerhouse, it is also going to become a big flop. So HP and Microsoft keep my words in your mind:
    Without Marketing,
    Your Superfone is going to be Nothing. I am your well wisher and a big fan of Windows Phone.
  • Marketing is for consumer devices, this is aimed at Enterprises. HP is going to market it in their enterprise channels, so you won't see a TV commercial for it.
  • I bet this is your first unboxing Zac ;)
    Well, I liked it. It is like what we actually done at home LOL~
  • I'd guess the extra desk dock plates are for the different cases that HP is offering, but that's just a guess.
  • Zac, you're too funny with your deliberately amateur, slightly slapstick unboxing experience.  Don't worry, the others just don't get the subtle english humour but I love it. Oh, you weren't being funny....?  Then maybe you should take notes from "unbox therapy" on YouTube. 
  • Guys please stay on the topic, it is review of HP elite x3 not the review of the build (All windows users are aware that it would run very smooth on the build).
  • It IS on topic because the HP X3 is shipping with that build, and the AU hasn't been officially released for it. How can you review the device without mentioning that one of the key features (the fingerprint sensor) isn't even enabled yet?
  • So, do you need Anniversary Update for the fingerprint reader or something else MS hasn't done yet? I ordered it already anyway :)
  • Struggle city on the unboxing there. lol
  • Can't wait until they sell it used at B&H for $300! I maybe El Cheapo, but I still have a few hundred dollars more than you, muahaha!!!
  • Coolj,  wait a few months,  you will buy one with all accesories for 300 brand new.  Coming to a clearance bin near you!  
  • Not bothered about the polycarbonate body. Looks actually pretty decent. Aluminium would have been n