The idea of using your smartphone to provide a PC like desktop experience is not a new one. Companies like Microsoft
have tried their hand at it through functionality such as Continuum
for Windows 10 Mobile, but now Samsung is attempting to bridge the device for factor device with Samsung DeX.
In order for your smartphone to deliver a desktop like experience, you dock your Samsung smartphone (in our case the Galaxy S8+) onto provided dock (after sliding the top lid back to reveal the dock’s USB Type-C male connector). Next, you use the dock’s ports to connect a monitor (via HDMI port), power, Ethernet, and required USB devices such as a mouse for instance. We opted for a wireless keyboard and mouse for input.
Once you have connected everything, you are presented with a customised Android UI that is complete with app tray, shortcut bar, and system tray. One handy feature of the desktop like UI is that it presents the apps you used on your smartphone last (pre-docking it), as icons at the bottom of the screen, enabling you to continue where you last left off.
By clicking on the app tray icon (furthest to the left and at the bottom), you are able to launch your smartphone apps on your monitor for a desktop like experience. Samsung’s apps work best but some others also adapt to the added screen real estate such as Microsoft’s Excel mobile app and YouTube for instance.
As on a Windows 10
-powered PC or MacBook, you can minimise windows or resize a lot of them and switch in between open applications through familiar keyboard shortcuts like ALT and Tab for instance. Some apps are not compatible with the desktop mode and run in a smartphone-like window and this includes ones you may use a lot such as Facebook and Instagram. To fix (or at least bypass) this, you can use these applications in the browser rather than running them as apps. Overall the performance of the smartphone within this desktop like environment was snappy and smooth.
Ultimately, we found that the DeX experience to be the best representation of using your smartphone to deliver a desktop like productivity experience, but still not an ideal one. It cannot replace your PC but is very handy in a pinch, provided you have the accessories and remembered to pack the DeX dock. The experience also comes at a price – a lofty one at that, of R2499.