Samsung DeX hands-on: a revolution for the PC?


Samsung DeX: price and availability

Samsung DeX was released at the same time as the Galaxy S8 and S8+ and is available for $149.99

Samsung DeX: so, the Galaxy S8 will be a desktop PC

Samsung DeX is an exciting new feature that works with both the Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8+. DeX is a docking station into which the S8 is plugged. With a USB Type-C connection, the S8 now comes with an HDMI output and two USB ports. DeX also supports Full HD displays, but 4K support is not confirmed.

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Samsung DeX converts the S8 into a PC. / © ANDROIDPIT

Once you’ve plugged it in, the S8 will need a few seconds until the DeX interface starts up on your monitor. In DeX mode, the display of the S8 remains dark and you will not be able to operate the device. From here, it’s all about grabbing your mouse and using that keyboard.

The DeX desktop interface is broadly similar to what we’ve seen on Windows 10, Chrome OS or Remix OS. The start menu, start menu with notification bar and desktop are all available.

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Samsung DeX: a classic desktop for Android apps. / © ANDROIDPIT

Apps are accessible via the start menu and – if you store them there – will function as a shortcut to the desktop. Theoretically, all Android apps are DeX-compatible. Samsung uses the multi-window features of Android Nougat and refines these abilities a bit. If an app does not support multi-window, then it’s displayed in a window with a shape that corresponds approximately to the smartphone format.

Multi-window apps can be enlarged and shrunken, but ordinarily an app will not be able to display two windows. This is only possible if Samsung’s own interfaces are used. The Samsung browser is capable of this multi-window capability. Because modern smartphone browsers have the same capabilities as their desktop counterparts, web apps can be accessed by DeX. Samsung demonstrates this through the Facebook website. In general, the Samsung browser always shows the desktop version of the pages in DeX mode.

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DeX: is this how the workplace of the future will look? / © ANDROIDPIT

A mouse and keyboard are used for control purposes. Within DeX, there is the classic Alt-Tab keyboard shortcut, which allows you to navigate through the various apps. Because no special apps are used for DeX, you always use the same database in DeX as you do for your smartphone.

Notifications also come naturally with DeX. A WhatsApp message can easily be answered on the desktop, and you can take calls via a Bluetooth headset – alternatively you can simply take the S8 out of the DeX station and use it as you normally would. 

The performance is satisfactory in the demos, but DeX does not work as fast as a classic PC. With its eight-core processor, the Galaxy S8 is quite capable of displaying the browser and other apps in parallel on a monitor.

Something worth noting: whilst Remix OS does have a performance advantage, it really can’t compete with the portability of DeX.

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The S8 as a replacement for your PC? Of course it’s possible! / © ANDROIDPIT

Samsung DeX: it has its limits

The concept of DeX is already known through Microsoft with Continuum, which allows you to display a Windows desktop on a smartphone. Technically, Samsung has the advantage with the Galaxy S8 as it has a more powerful processor and better system functionality.

Conceptually, however, Samsung with DeX doesn’t really do anything Continuum can’t already do. In fact, in many respects, it is lagging behind: you always need a stationary infrastructure. Continuum also works wirelessly, as well as on the touch screen of the smartphone – which is still always usable – as a replacement for the mouse and keyboard. For mobile workers, DeX is therefore not suitable. It is for those people who work at a fixed workstation. For presentations, the system may still be suitable, but without a mouse, nothing is possible. Too bad Samsung doesn’t offer a portable notebook case – that would be a real added value for mobile work.

Opinion by Hans-Georg Kluge

DeX for notebooks would make more sense than having it as a PC docking station.

What do you think?

Depending on the app, there may be a further complication: for example, in the licensing terms of Microsoft Office, free use is only possible for displays smaller than 10 inches. How this is handled at DeX is not entirely clear. Most probably, an Office subscription will be necessary if you don’t want to go back to the alternative Google Docs.

According to a Samsung employee, games are incompatible with DeX, as they simultaneously output touch screen and virtual mouse inputs – so a rather technical limitation. Samsung’s active cooling system was already confirmed in the run-up phase, but the fan only became active when it was absolutely necessary. 

Samsung DeX: in action

Check out the Samsung DeX docking station in action in our video below:


Samsung DeX: an exciting experiment

An exciting experiment has to wait until we have a test device of the S8 and DeX: can DeX also serve as a media player? Can it be connected to the TV to show Netflix and other media players? We’ll find it out and let you know!

What do you think of DeX? Does this get you thinking about what you should do with your old PC? 

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