Android mobile phone DeX

Imagine you’re living on the road and working at the same time. You use a laptop for work but it breaks down. How do you keep working? If you have an Android mobile phone, a Bluetooth keyboard, and a mouse, you can turn it into a full-function computer.

Last year, while we were travelling through northern Western Australia, my trusty Hewlett Packard laptop computer suddenly refused to boot up. After several calls to HP’s support team, it was deemed the laptop would have to come back to Melbourne for repairs.

This was a bit of a blow considering I work while travelling and I needed my laptop urgently and the turnaround on getting it back was between 6 and 8 weeks. I had no choice at the time but to wait until we got to a major town and purchase a new one.

Unbeknownst to me, I had a perfectly good portable computer with me the whole time. In fact, it was sitting in my pocket and I was using it to call for support for the broken laptop.

DeX main screen and setting on android mobile phone

If you have a late-model Samsung Android mobile phone (I believe S8 or later) that uses the Android operating system it will include DeX.

So what is DeX?

According to Samsung, DeX is the way to get a desktop PC-style experience using select Galaxy devices. All you need to do is connect your phone to a monitor/TV, a Bluetooth mouse and a keyboard and you’re up and running.

To connect to a TV, you will in all likelihood need a USB-C to HDMI cable unless your TV supports wireless screen mirroring, in which case, the cable is not required.

advertise here caravan and Camping Australia

I travel with a Logitech wireless trackball and keyboard and I was able to link these to the phone with little effort. If you don’t have a mouse, you can use the screen of the phone as a trackpad.

During my testing, I’ve found all my applications work well using DeX. All the Microsoft Office suite as well as all the Google apps such as Docs, Sheets and Slides all function as they would on a laptop or desktop PC. Browsing is the same as any desktop/laptop OS experience. I’ve also tested SnapSeed which I reckon is one of the best photo editors available on any platform, and it works with the added benefit of mouse control.

I now carry an Asus portable external monitor for my MacBook as I do a lot of publishing and having two screens is very useful. I tested connecting my Samsung S9 to this screen using a USB-C cable and DeX functioned perfectly using this setup.

One thing to keep in mind is that you will need to store your files on a cloud storage system. I use Google Drive but any similar system should work as well.

The only problem with DeX is that it only works on Samsung Galaxy devices. If you have any other Android mobile phone, you will need an alternative.

Fortunately, there are plenty of options out there. Sentio Desktop is one that features highly online. Taskbar 6.0 is another popular choice. Leena Desktop UI is another desktop-themed launcher that looks similar to macOS.

If you have a phone with Android 10 or later, there is also a desktop mode native in the OS. It’s still in development as far as I can gather and you need to enter developer mode on the phone to access it so I wouldn’t recommend you use it unless you’re a bit tech-savvy.

Given the harsh environment we tend to use our laptops in when travelling on the road, it is a good idea to have some sort of backup in case of a breakdown. For me, DeX does everything I need it to do and more. In fact, I could almost function completely with DeX and not worry about carrying a laptop…!

I’ll definitely be keeping my Samsung Galaxy S9 in my spares box from now on.

Safe travels.

By Marty Ledwich

Marty Ledwich is a writer and photographer who is on the road full-time with his wife, Kylie, towing their off-road Roadstar caravan with a Toyota Land Cruiser 200 series. Marty was a volunteer in the Victoria Sate Emergency Service for 30 years and has travelled extensively around Australia.

One thought on “Technology – Turn your Android Mobile Phone into a PC”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *