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Samsung DeX for Desktop with Large Display 

Samsung DeX Compatibility:

Galaxy S Phones: 

S8 series | S9 series | S10 series | S20 series | S21 Series | S22 series.

Galaxy Note phones:

Note8 |  Note9 | Note10 series | Note 20 series.


Like many programs that work at home, I have a fairly powerful desktop, which is easily enough for various tasks. But from time to time there are things like writing this article for Habra, where you do not need a lot of computing power, but at the same time you want to sit at your favorite large monitor and keyboard.

The decision came by chance when viewing one of the reviews - the Samsung DeX interface, which allows you to use your own smartphone in desktop mode.

Samsung DeX

This article is typed and laid out on a smartphone. For those wondering how it works, the sequel is under the cut.

The first question is probably "why"? First, for environmental and convenience reasons, the desktop consumes more electricity, makes noise and heats up. Secondly, just out of interest to try something new. In some cases, you can not take a laptop with you, but limit the smartphone and HDMI-cable, which significantly saves weight and space in the luggage.

Of course, there may be different options for solving the problem, how to do without a desktop. You can buy without a fan and connect it to a good main computer, but without a fan it is not cheap. You can buy a Chromebox that is essentially the same PC, only with the OS from Google. Finally, if you limit yourself to watching videos, you can simply stick a Google Chromecast in your monitor or TV. But the solution with a smartphone turned out to be the latest, provided of course that there is already a modern smartphone capable of using USB-C as an HDMI output. It's no secret that modern smartphones have a very decent processing power - several cores, 4-8GB of RAM, and in most cases all this is practically not used.

 

Actually, the "hardware" is the smartphone itself, but in order for everything to work, we will need two devices.

  • The USB-C adapter is HDMI, which we will connect to the monitor and smartphone. I took a special adapter that can supply power to the smartphone during operation, because otherwise you will have to think about charging the battery.
    Samsung DeX

    As prompted in the comments, on modern monitors with USB-C support, a separate adapter is not needed, everything works directly.

  • A USB switch that can "split" a USB mouse and keyboard into two devices – a PC and a DeX.
    Samsung DeX

    Of course, you can do without it if you poke the USB cable every time, but it is much easier to switch between devices at the touch of a button.

Actually, that's it. Connect all the cables together, connect the adapter with the smartphone and monitor, and everything works, we see a full-fledged desktop:

Samsung DeX

Of course, connecting to a keyboard via a USB switch isn't the only use case. A smartphone can be used instead of a laptop to show presentations or photos on a large screen, watch videos on a TV in a hotel, etc. In general, with good power of modern smartphones, there are quite a lot of use cases, in a bag or pocket a USB adapter is easier than taking a laptop with you.

With the iron figured out, let's move on to the software.

With software, everything is both simple and complex. Just because it's a regular Android, and it works quite well on larger screens. It is difficult, because this is a phone Android, respectively, not all programs "understand" that they work in desktop mode.

Google Chrome, for example, looks like this:

Samsung DeX

Everything works quite well, but switching between open pages requires a few clicks, and this is inconvenient. In Chrome Beta, it became possible to activate the tab panel, for which it is enough to open the address "chrome://flags/# enable-conditional-strip" in the browser. Tabs are located only at the bottom and they have no signatures, only page icons (see the bottom of the screenshot), but this is still better than nothing.

Youtube works, although it looks a bit odd:

Samsung DeX

Apart from Youtube, Spotify works fine, music can be listened to in the background, it does not affect the performance in any way.

Habr opens normally, but tooltips do not appear when hovering over icons, sometimes appearing inconveniently when writing comments or with text formatting.

I haven't tried using MS Office, but Google Docs opens and edits documents normally:

Samsung DeX

Difficulties arose with editing images. Most Android editors are sharpened for smartphones, among all sorts of photo improvements, applying frames and other nonsense, I did not find the usual editor in the style of Paint, where you could change the size of the canvas, add other simple things. It's funny, but in several editors that have the word Pro in the title, I did not find the banal resize Canvas function. An example of an editor with the unsophisticated name Photo Editor is shown in the screenshot, and it's easy to see that its UI is definitely designed for the phone.

Samsung DeX

However, the system can be suitable not only for working with texts and pictures:

Samsung DeX

Python 3. 8, numpy, git and Slack work fine, so even to work with such a "PC" in principle, you can, the only question is whether you will be able to find a convenient IDE.

An obvious drawback, immediately "Caught the eye" - the lack of icons of the keyboard layout. Represents the Android system as a whole, and they have other representations, american representation, but still, adding a language icon to the tray would be convenient. Switching by Alt + Shift by the way, works fine.

Conclusion

 

Using a smartphone in "desktop mode", in general, left a pleasant impression. Everything works smoothly, nothing slows down, well, the complete absence of noise when working is also pleasing. In fairness, it is worth noting that top-end smartphones are more expensive than many laptops, if it did not work.

Obviously, Samsung DeX is designed for a Samsung device, I do not know whether such an adapter will work on other smartphones. If anyone has tried, write in the comments. And in general, the concept seems quite promising. Since modern smartphones are catching up with desktops in terms of performance, why not use this power for good, and not just play games. HDMI adapter and being able to use the system on a large screen is very convenient, hope in this direction. And Android developers can advise you to better test your programs in desktop mode. As suggested in the comments, this mode will be normally supported in Android 11, so for developers it is obvious, a new market niche and new opportunities. In terms of hardware requirements, desktop mode is likely to be available on modern smartphones, has hardware support for USB 3.1.