HP’s Elite x3 Windows 10 Mobile phone is now available in the US and it’s the most powerful and versatile Windows phone you can buy right now. As a 3-in-1 device mainly targeted at business users, the premium handset aims to make the Windows 10 Mobile Continuum feature a more complete desktop experience than what you can currently enjoy with Microsoft’s Lumia 950 and 950XL phones. This is possible thanks to HP Workspace, a new app that allows users to run virtualized legacy Windows apps in Continuum mode.
As of today, Windows 10 Mobile’s Continuum mode is pretty limited: it only works with UWP apps that support it (and there are not a lot that do so far), and it doesn’t support windowed apps yet. But HP Workspace changes that as it enables a familiar desktop experience with access to legacy desktop apps such as Chrome, Internet Explorer, the Office 2013 apps and more. However, the virtualized environment is a premium service targeted at business users. Engadget got the chance to test it and you may be surprised by some of the details.
First of all, HP Workspace is available as a subscription service and there are two different tiers:
- For $49 per month per user, the virtualized environment is limited to 4GB of RAM, 10 different apps and 40 hours of monthly usage.
- For $79 a month per user, you get 8GB of RAM, unlimited apps and 80 hours of monthly usage.
HP Workspace works with both HP’s Desk Dock and the company’s Lap Dock which is not yet available. According to Engadget, using virtualized apps is not as smooth as using those apps on a real computer, but that was to be expected. But while the experience seems pretty good overall, it remains to be seen how the service will scale after many enterprise users start using it on the Elite x3.
More importantly, it’s still not clear if HP’s all-in-one solution is cheaper and more effective than a classic setup including your average smartphone and laptop/PC. The 3-in-1 device could be appealing to some users, but the premium price and the technical limitations (you’ll need to have a good Internet connection to make it work) could also be too much to handle for many. It's still early days though, and HP deserves credit for trying to reinvent the smartphone experience nine years after Apple changed everything with the original iPhone.