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HP floats a new Windows 10 smartphone that could replace your laptop

Hewlett Packard’s new Windows Phone could be the only laptop you’ll ever need.

That’s the idea behind HP’s Elite X3 smartphone — which crams laptop-like hardware into a smartphone — introduced this week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The Elite X3’s raw specs bear this out. A giant 6-inch AMOLED display (2,560×1,440), 16-megapixel rear camera, a 2.15GHz quad-core Snapdragon 820 processor, 64GB of storage; 4GB of RAM, a MicroSD card slot for up to 2TB of additional storage, USB Type-C connector (the new connector tech used on laptops), a massive 4,150 mAh battery, and, of course, Windows 10 Mobile software.

But that’s only half the story. HP will also offer an optional 12.5-inch laptop that is built to run on top of the phone’s hardware. In other words, the laptop is technically just a display, keyboard, and battery that uses the phone’s hardware to run Windows.

If you need an even larger display, the phone can plug into a dock which connects to a desktop display, keyboard, and mouse.

All of this is predicated on Microsoft’s Continuum technology, which allows you to quickly switch from the smartphone’s small screen to a laptop or a desktop monitor. While Continuum is not a full-blown desktop experience, it can come pretty close when, for example, using Microsoft Office applications, a browser, and other apps designed for Continuum. And HP intends to go beyond Continuum by providing a way to run standard Windows 10 desktop applications, which typically require an Intel laptop processor.

The end of Windows Phone? The Elite X3 comes against a backdrop of a running obituary for Windows Phone. Critics have declared that the Windows Phone platform is dead because it has never been able to make a dent in Apple’s iOS and Android and, as a result, has never been able to attract a lot of apps.

Which is true. But HP is targeting its phone as an extension of the Windows 10 desktop rather than just a standalone Windows 10 phone. So, to even better replicate the full Windows desktop experience, HP developed so-called “software virtualization” to allow customers to take older Windows applications and run them via the cloud on the Elite X3.

Time will tell if the concept has legs. The Elite X3 is slated to be released this summer. No pricing has been announced.


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