The DeX - a clever contraction of "desktop experience" - is the Android equivalent of Microsoft's Display Dock that launched with Windows 10 on mobile, allowing to use the power of your phone to run a desktop computing environment.
Samsung says that it's enterprise ready, offering a way of using your Samsung smartphone as the brains behind your desktop computer.
DeX design and connections
The Samung DeX is a clever design as it folds out from its flattened puck shape to form a dock, with the back rest incorporating a fan for cooling the phone, and a USB Type-C in the base for power and data transfer.
The DeX features the following connections on the base:
- 2x USB 2.0
- USB Type-C
This means you can set it up as a workstation, with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse and connected to a monitor via HDMI. The Ethernet connection means you don't have to rely on the phone's Wi-Fi.
It's a good looking thing and a clever solution, a lot tidier than the Microsoft Display Dock that resulted in a lot of trailing wires. Samsung also assures us that it's plug and play, meaning you shouldn't have to do anything to set it up.
How does DeX work?
When you dock your Samsung Galaxy S8 into DeX it will give you a desktop layout on the display you've connected, which is arranged like a conventional Windows display, but still all Android.
You'll be able to access your apps tray in the bottom left corner, rather like the Start menu and you also get multiple windows support, so there's no limitation to accessing multiple apps, resizing windows and moving things around.
You can have shortcuts on your desktop, with all the system icons and notifications dropping down to the bottom right, so it's easy to see what's happening.
You can then open and use your apps as normal, with support for keyboard shortcuts and mouse actions, so using Microsoft's Office apps in Android are a breeze, for example. Samsung has worked with Microsoft and Adobe to ensure that Office and apps like Lightroom Mobile work with keyboard and mouse.
How does DeX handle incoming calls?
As we said, notifications drop down the bottom right-hand corner, popping up to tell you what's going on, meaning you don't have to reach for your phone all the time.
You can also take calls through the DeX, and leave the phone in place. You just have to accept the call via the desktop pop-up and that's it. If you want to then undock your phone mid-call that's fine too, you can then just go mobile and take your phone with you, without being cut off.
How are more intensive apps handled by DeX?
As a desktop replacement there are obviously some shortcomings when it comes to more intensive apps: you're limited to those mobile apps supported by Android.
However, Samsung is going to be offering Citrix, VMware and Amazon Web Services support meaning that you can login to your desktop PC elsewhere, mirroring that experience on your Android DeX. For businesses, that might enable remote working, letting you access applications that you don't have on Android, or applications that require more horsepower than you'll get from a mobile device.
What will the Samsung DeX price be?
The dock will retail in the US for $149.99, according to Samsung’s website. It’s scheduled to ship in late April. There's no word yet on UK pricing or availability.