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The Samsung DeX Will Turn Your Smartphone Into a Desktop

By:Christine Fettinger

A device that allows you to use your phone as a computer is not a new idea. The Motorola Lapdock attempted to do this as early as 2011, but none have ultimately been successful in widespread adoption. Samsung’s DeX is the newest device that seeks to have their Galaxy S8 or S8+ be used as both a phone and desktop computer.

DeX is a specialized dock that allows users to run their Galaxy S8 like a desktop. The dock has an HDMI port to connect a monitor, two USB ports, an Ethernet port, an embedded cooling fan, and a USB-C socket for power.
The interface is optimized for a more PC-like experience and functions almost like a real computer instead of an enlarged mobile interface. There is an app menu on the bottom left of the screen and a settings menu on the right. Common right-click commands and keyboard shortcuts work. Windows are resizeable. You can have multiple windows open at a time and apps like Adobe and Microsoft Office Suite have been optimized for DeX. All mobile phone notifications appear along the bottom of the desktop with access to the phone’s functions intact.

Although Microsoft Suite and Adobe are optimized for DeX, many are not. These apps will still work, but they may be scaled versions and may not offer resizeable windows. The only browser currently optimized for DeX is Samsung’s own browser, although Chrome does have DeX support. DeX appears to have no memory, so if you undock your phone and plug it back in, you will have to reopen all of your apps again.

As convenient as it sounds to just slide your phone in a dock and have it work as a PC, realistically you need more than just DeX. You’ll also need a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. So either you are disconnecting your desktop rig, or buying an extra three peripherals. In order for it to be useful and a viable replacement for tablets and laptops while doing any kind of travel, you must ensure access, at the very least, to a monitor or TV with an HDMI port at your destination. That may mean having to bring a keyboard and mouse with you, which undermines the simplicity and main advantage of a device like DeX.

DeX proves that modern smartphones are indeed powerful enough to function well as computers and overcomes the hurdle of adapting a smartphone’s interface to be more PC-like. Most people already use their phones in some sort of business capacity, and so making it possible to use only a phone to do the work of a PC is appealing. A dock that allows a regular computer to stay connected while also giving the option of docking your phone to use as a PC would help overcome some of the practical problems associated with DeX. Then you wouldn’t have to plug and unplug your PC to dock your phone as a PC. Most hotels already have computers for guest use, and thereby the peripherals needed for DeX.

Phones are already our cameras, e-readers, and iPods – the smooth transition that DeX allows from phone to computer may pave the way for phones to fully replace computers.

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