Windows Phone was a rare sight at Mobile World Congress this year, but HP is still flying the flag for Microsoft’s mobile OS with the Elite x3.

In fact, this fabulous 6in phablet seems to put Microsoft’s own smartphone efforts to shame.

With an odd mix of business credentials and high-spec audio courtesy of speaker specialists Bang & Olufsen, we knew this was one to check out on the MWC show floor.

In case the recent influx of 5.7in phones had you convinced that phablets weren't actually that big, the Elite x3 will change your mind. This thing is HUGE. The 6in display takes up most of the front, but those silver metal speaker grilles add to the bulk. I could still grip it comfortably in one hand, but you'll definitely need two to reach every part of the display.

It feels a hell of a lot more premium than the Lumia 650, but we still wish HP had machined the body out of metal; everything is made from glossy plastic, and it's incredibly quick to attract fingerprints.

The speakers are B&O-branded, and certainly have an attractive pattern that matches the brand's style, but I wasn't able to get an idea of sound quality on the drowded MWC show floor - that'll have to wait for a full review.

With a top-spec 2K resolution, which still looks pin-sharp over six inches, the screen is something special. It's an OLED panel, too, so movies and pictures with deep blacks look fantastic.

 

It's a similar story underneath, with a cutting-edge Snapdragon 820 CPU, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of (microSD expandable) storage. Windows phone handsets don't really come better than this.

It absolutely flies through the OS, opening and swapping between apps without a hint of lag or stutter. The Windows Phone store has plenty of games now, and the ones we tried were silky smooth.

The 16MP camera on the back products some good looking results too, although we could only view them on the phone itself.

A collosal 4150mAh battery will keep all that power flowing for a full day of use, too, so you won't have to take a break to recharge.

Business attire

We're not sure what line of work HP expects Elite x3 customers to be in, but there's no doubt it's ready for anything.

Continuum is on-board for turning the phone into a simple desktop PC, just by docking it to an adaptor or pairing it with a wireless display. Both phone and dock use USB Type-C, and HP's official dock adds HDMI, USB and Ethernet so you can leave it hooked up to a screen, keyboard and mouse.

It doesn't matter if you don't work behind a desk, either; it's IP67 water- and dust-resistant, and it's been MIL-STD 810 tested for salt, fog, humidity and thermal resistance.

Fingerprint and iris scan security are both useful, but serious professionals will prefer the full encryption options.

HP Elite x3 Early verdict

It all sounds like the Elite x3 is shaping up to be a real beast. It makes the best of a bad situation, focusing on Windows Phone's business strengths rather than going after Apple, Samsung, and LG in the home market.

Unfortunately, that also extends to how HP's going to be selling the thing. You won't be able to walk into a phone shop and get one on contract; instead, HP will be selling it directly to companies through its business networks. That means it could be pretty difficult to get hold of one, but you certainly won't be disappointed if your IT guy decided to place an order.

It should arrive later this summer, with more than 30 countries in line at launch, but there's no official price just yet.

Where to buy HP Elite x3: