HP returns to phones with a Windows mobile-PC hybrid

Mobile World Congress is revealing quite a few concepts, from modularity to water-resistance, but HP’s push to make business have better continuity is not what we expected from the PC maker.

There’s no doubting that computer maker HP is returning from the dead, and in the past year or two, we’ve seen some impressive work from its engineering teams to return to the forefront of computer making.

At MWC this week in Spain, though, we’re seeing something a little different out of its product development teams, with a return to smartphones.

You may not remember HP ever being in that department, and we’ll admit it has been a while since HP handed us something with a phone antenna inside to make calls on and get work done.

Still, the company has been in this area before, so it’s not totally unheard of. Back before Windows became decorated with colourful live tiles, HP had phones with the old Windows that looked a little like Windows 95 — Windows Mobile 6 and lower — while also releasing phones with a version of the old Palm webOS, which is now used by LG for its TVs.

So HP has made phones before, but it has been some time since we saw something in this area from the company.


For its return, however, the focus is on a phone that can also be a computer, with HP embracing the Microsoft concept of “Continuum” which is to have a phone you can do all your work on when you essentially turn it into a computer.

That’s something Microsoft’s Lumia 950 and 950XL can technically do right now, provided you have the right accessories, and that’s the sort of approach HP will be taking also.

The phone is super important, though, because without it HP’s mobile productivity concept doesn’t exist, so let’s start with that.


At Mobile World Congress, HP is launching this phone as the Elite x3, and this will be a 6 inch smartphone with Qualcomm’s eight-core Snapdragon 820 processor and Windows 10.

It will be different from Microsoft’s Lumia models by being water and dust resistant, with HP calling it “designed to pass MIL-STD 810G testing”, and yet even though it comes with this business-heavy design, it will bring audio from the likes of Bang & Olufsen, which is designing the speakers on the handset.

HP is also talking up dual SIM card support for the Elite x3, wireless charging, a big battery, and two high-quality cameras providing 16 megapixels on the back and 8 megapixels on the front.


But as good as the phone looks on paper, the emphasis on the x3 will be how it can be used not just as a phone, but also as a computer, and for that, HP will also be releasing the “Desk Dock” and “Mobile Extender”, two accessories that play different roles.


On the one hand, the Desk Dock (above) will be made for monitors and keyboards, giving you what is essentially a port replicator for your phone.

Simply plug the HP Elite x3 into the Dock, and provided the Dock is plugged into a monitor and keyboard, you’ll be working on your phone directly, with Windows 10 expanding to match your monitor.

The other side of things is HP’s Mobile Extender (below), which appears to be a 12.5 inch laptop-like device that relies on the phone and does the same as the Desk Dock, but in a mobile capacity.


“Our customer insights indicated that there are a group of commercial customers where their needs for mobility and PC-level productivity are not being met,” said Michael Park,HP’s Vice President and General manager of Mobility.

“The HP Elite x3 is where we see the future of computing heading,” he said, adding “one device that can truly act like every device: a modern technology solution for a mobile-centric workplace combined with greater benefits for IT.”

Locally, HP isn’t talking up pricing, but availability is expected in our region from August, so you can expect to hear more about it in the second half of the year.