Everything about HP's Elite X3 seems like a gamble. It's the company's first phone in two years, and it's the first major Windows Phone device since Microsoft's Lumia 950 debuted last year. HP is betting big that premium hardware and the ability to use the phone as both a pseudo-desktop and laptop will actually be a boon for enterprise customers. Naturally, too, HP is hoping to tempt businesses away from BlackBerry. But while it's nice to see the company swing for the fences (like with its gorgeous Spectre 13 ultraportable), it's not enough in this case to make the 699 Elite X3 a useful device.
Microsoft's Windows 10 Mobile Creators Update rides the coattails of the desktop OS, heavily leaning on improvements in Cortana and Edge to nudge Microsoft's nearly comatose mobile platform further ahead. As the free upgrade rolls out Tuesday, our review of the Creators Update can't help but conclude that it's even less of an improvement than the Windows 10 Mobile Anniversary Update. We can tell you that Windows' new ability to buy and read ebooks within Edge represents its most potent addition. You can turn off a screen while using Continuum, a tweak that better approximates the PC experience. Cortana's slightly smarter, as she is on the desktop.
What's sitting next to me isn't a product that can you walk into an electronics store and buy--not yet, anyway. The NexDock, which looks like a laptop but isn't, represents a possible future where phones become PCs. Instead, all of the available CPU power and app storage is provided by a mobile device, whether it be a Windows phone or tablet, an Android phone, a Raspberry Pi, or something similar. This "laptop" is more like an external monitor. Yes, it's real: The 119 ( 149 at retail) Indiegogo project was funded last week, making it a viable product.
Editor's Note: It looks like our headline was spot on, as HP has decided to discontinue the Elite x3 after Microsoft put Windows Mobile into maintenance mode. HP's Elite x3 smartphone has achieved at least one thing: It has triumphantly realized Microsoft's dream of phones that could eventually replace your PC. Microsoft's vision was meaningless unless those phones could support the PC's legacy apps. Microsoft's Continuum feature already allows you to connect a mouse and keyboard, giving the phone the look and feel of a desktop PC. HP designed the Elite x3 to evolve that concept.
The road to the perfect phone-desktop hybrid is littered with the carcasses of ambitious failures -- just look at Microsoft's Lumia 950 and Motorola's Atrix. Still, that isn't stopping Samsung from giving it a go with a new dock for the Galaxy S8 called Dex. Since the S8 packs a top-of-the-line Snapdragon 835 chip that was designed with VR in mind, the idea here is that the phone can do double duty as a desktop machine. I tried out the accessory with an S8 plugged in and was particularly impressed with the way Samsung has customized Android for bigger screens. All told, the Dex has two USB ports, an HDMI slot, an Ethernet jack and a USB-C socket for power.