DeX is a program created by Samsung that allows owners of their flagship devices to connect their phones to an external monitor and be given a full desktop interface. DeX has been included in Samsung devices starting with the Galaxy S8 in phones and the Galaxy Tab S4 in tablets.
What apps are supported in DeX?
Samsung has an official list of 79 apps that are supported by DeX, including office suites, video conferencing software, remote desktop software, media apps, and even games.
How do I access DeX?
Across all DeX experiences, do keep in mind that the maximum resolution is FHD, so you won’t see any pretty 2K. Not that it’s necessary, and doing that would either kill your battery or slow it down considerably.
With a cable or adapter
This method gives you access to the most “traditional” DeX experience, if anything about DeX can be called that.
First, You can connect your phone straight to a monitor using a USB-C to video cable, depending on what ports your monitor supports. Samsung sells a DeX Cable, which is more or less a USB-C to HDMI cable. After DeX boots up on your monitor, you can connect any Bluetooth accessories you would like, such as a keyboard or mouse.
If you want your phone to seem more like a traditional desktop, this is where a USB-C Hub would come in. I personally recommend you find a hub with at least four ports: one for a display cable, a port that you can connect a charger to prevent too much battery drain, and two USB ports, one for a keyboard and one for a mouse.
Make sure you have a high quality cable that can deliver at least the power your hub requires as well as supports high-speed data transfer so all of your accessories work at the best of their ability. Simply plug everything up, DeX will boot up, and you can get going.
With Samsung devices running the most recent Android updates, you can use DeX wirelessly by connecting to a Smart TV or monitor that supports Miracast. This makes it so that your television is a second display that you can manage on your phone. To access it, just make sure your TV or monitor is in screen mirroring mode, and then click the DeX button in your quick settings and find the device you want to connect to. You are then good to go.
On your PC
With the DeX for PC app, you can connect your phone directly to your PC with a USB cable and have full access to your phone on your PC.
What’s DeX like?
The basic DeX desktop pictured above looks like your traditional desktop experience. Start menu on the left, system tray on the right, and taskbar in the middle. At the left, you’ll also find some traditional smartphone navigation buttons, including home, recents, and back. The desktop also allows for apps and folders to be created on it.
In my mind, the DeX Apps Menu is probably most similar to that of Chrome OS, with a search bar at the top, full-sized app icons, and arrows to click between pages.
Upon opening the apps menu, you can start typing to automatically use the search function. The No Results Found page gives you the option to search an app store or use Finder for a more extensive search.
One thing I will note at this point is the fact that you cannot search your file browser in the menu, which is a feature of both Windows and Chrome OS. This feature is available in Finder, which leads me to a point of confusion: If there is an app that comes on the device that can carry out those kinds of searches, why not integrate it into the menu?
Finder also brings the benefit of being able to search through apps, such as Messages or Spotify. This is one feature I would very much like to see in the future.
For Apps that fully support DeX, you can dynamically resize the windows they reside in. For an example, I will use one app that is fully supported by DeX: Microsoft Word.
As you can see, YouTube can be dragged all across the screen, resized in a variety of ways, and can snap to either side to support split screen or the top to make it full screen. One thing to note is the lack of snapping to corners, but that’s not explicitly necessary.
If you need to tweak DeX, there are a variety of settings available to you that are pictured above. You can determine the resolution, font size, and screen zoom, change your desktop wallpaper, tweak your mouse or touchpad, and enable or disable certain features.
In DeX Labs, which are more experimental settings, you can allow apps to force resize if they are not supported by DeX or make it so your latest app open automatically when DeX is opened or closed.
Can I use DeX everyday?
DeX is a very cool step into the future, but can it be used instead of a computer for an entire day? I decided to try this out for you, right down to me actively typing this article in DeX. Here are some things to consider.
I started my journey with DeX at around 10 AM this morning with a full battery and at the time of writing it is 2:30, and I have 67% battery.
As far as resource usage goes, with about six Google Chrome tabs, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Slack open, and my podcast app running and playing on my Galaxy Buds Pro, I’m sitting at around 10 GB of memory usage.
With all of those things closed except for my podcast app, I’m using about 8 GB of RAM. But there’s no lag and my Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has a total of 16 GB of RAM, so it’s very unlikely I would reach full utilization.
My phone has also gotten slightly warm, but not hot, throughout the day.
How well do apps important to my job work in DeX?
As I’ve mentioned, I’m typing this in Google Chrome on the DeX interface. Microsoft Apps are fully supported, and I could do tasks in Excel such as autofill, creating charts and tables, and inserting formulas. Adobe Acrobat Reader also works very well.
Many remote desktop apps are supported, as well as VMWare apps such as Horizon (pictured above). I was able to access my school’s virtual lab with Horizon with complete ease and no issues. Obviously this will take some personal testing for your specific use case, but in my opinion, DeX is well-supported for apps that are necessary to business.
I also hopped on a Zoom call and was able to screen share with the other person. One consideration at this point is setting up your camera. With DeX, I usually have my phone face up on the table, so my camera just sees my ceiling. You could use a phone stand to prop your phone up properly during a video call.
Forget about work! Can I browse my social media on DeX? Kind of. No social media apps are officially supported by DeX except for Twitch and YouTube and you can argue about whether those two count as social media.
The Facebook app is downright terrible and doesn’t resize well even though it attempts to. Messenger doesn’t resize but still works. Twitter probably works the best out of the basic social apps and Instagram is a close second.
One beneficial thing is that these apps can be used in the browser instead if the apps don’t work to your liking and that might be what you have to do. The same case with video apps such as Netflix and HBO Max. You should be able to view both of these in your browser as opposed to your apps.
Apart from a few quirks DeX is a desktop platform that has it all. Barring any Windows-specific business apps, and assuming a proper setup, I see no reason that DeX could not be used instead of your laptop or computer on a daily basis. It also has the added benefit of integrating your smartphone experience and apps that you can normally only access on your phone into a desktop experience, so there’s no switching back and forth between your phone and laptop. You can do it all in one place.