That I've left imaging to part four of this multipart review is a clue as to the Elite X3's pretensions - it has an occasionally surprisingly good rear camera, but there are limitations. Everything else about the device is optimised for work and for productivity - the most an X3's imaging would typically have to cope with would be a shot of a building site, a white board, or a QR code. Having said that, you know me, I've been out and about shooting some lovely arty photos with it anyway.
Recent Reviews - Hardware
In the previous two review parts, I looked at the positioning of the HP Elite X3 and who it's aimed at, plus I explored its phone hardware, and then I delved into performance and the Continuum-capable Desk Dock, but it's time now to break new ground, into the world of HP Workspace, extending the Windows 10 smartphone into genuine Win32 application space, albeit via a managed virtualisation service. But line up all your ducks in a row and it's possible to be 'using' Publisher, Access, Slack, Visio and many more popular desktop applications, using OneDrive as default storage and with hooks to Box, Dropbox and others.
Last week saw my first review part, looking at the HP Elite X3's hardware and where it's pitched in the world of mobile computing. And I'm very glad that both HP and myself waited until the device was on the Anniversary Update for the formal AAWP review - this is a very different device to that which we handled in June and then played with in initial retail form in August. The Elite X3 is now fast and stable - and I try to quantify this below, along with a look at Office, Continuum and the Desk Dock, using the phone as a true portable computer.
When most people think of 'smartphones', or even just 'phones', they picture sexily-advertised shiny high-tech in High Street manufacturer/carrier/network stores. The focus is on social activities, on imaging, on music, and so on. Even though it can handle most of that, the HP Elite X3 is a totally different beast - it's a three-in-one (hence the name), transforming mobile computer for professionals and the companies for which they work.
This is the latest marker in the sand for Microsoft with Windows 10 Mobile, a data point around which numerous third parties are pitching their own handsets running the OS. We've not seen too many flagships competing with the 950 and 950 XL, but the 650 sits in sub-£200 territory (in the UK), already available at £140 on pay-as-you-go, so we're in a much more competitive arena here. Happily, there are lots of positives here, not least a design language and materials that should have been used on the 950 flagships, plus a balanced set of components that will appeal greatly to businesses...
Don't switch off, cables are something we all need in the smartphone world. Moreover, at least two of these have unique features that might well have you reaching for your wallet: reversibility and indestructibility. No, really....
There's something you should know about the Display Dock and Continuum. The hardware component itself is beautifully made (think Apple Mac build quality) and the concept really, really cool. Truly your smartphone could be your entire computing experience. Except that the software that ties everything together and that should make Continuum a reality is currently (December 2015) only in early beta, at best. So what follows contains a lot of disappointment, albeit mingled with glimpses of genuine utility and hope. Appropriately, for Christmas!
Following on from my review of the Microsoft Lumia 950 XL and Lumia 950 in each of the review parts so far ('1' for each), and from my camera head to head with the older Lumia 930 and 1020, here's the second review part, common to both devices of course, since the camera units are identical, with just some back end processing differences that I note below. Summary? With just a few caveats, these are the best imaging smartphones to come out of the Nokia/Microsoft stable yet.
The smaller sister device to the Lumia 950 XL reviewed five days ago, the Lumia 950 is lower-specced (slightly) but feels more of a product that can be recommended to more friends and colleagues, being more solid (no creaks), more manageable in the hand... and quite a bit cheaper. In fact, taking into account its unique selling points, I'd say that the Lumia 950 is the most bang per buck at this 'sweet spot' form factor in the smartphone world right now. For Windows Phone (and W10M) fans, I'd go further - this is the Holy Grail, the one device with everything we've been asking for.
The next generation of Windows Phone is here, in terms of software and hardware, in the shape of the Lumia 950 XL running Windows 10 Mobile. Now, we've covered the software side of things here ad infinitum on AAWP over the last year, thanks to the Insiders Programme - and almost everything here works identically to the Insiders preview builds on the likes of the Lumia 930. But there are some new tricks, everything's faster and - most of all - we have genuinely competitive hardware to run it all. Arguably for the first time in Windows Phone's history.