Samsung DeX review: Not a phone, not yet a desktop
Overview, Design and Features
With the launch of Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and S8+ nearly six months behind us, there has been one accessory that has had very little mention: the Samsung DeX docking station. It’s odd, especially when you consider that this extension of the phone is vying for the coveted title of being ‘desktop replacement.'
But as big a push as Samsung may wish to make on this ‘smartphone transformed into desktop’ dynamic, the question that we here at HWZ have asked is: just how accessible and simple is it to use?
More importantly, how does this lightweight docking station for the Galaxy S8 and S8+ stack up to the more conventional (some even say, traditional) desktop (or notebook even) that’s been around for what seems like an eternity?
Design and features
Everything about the DeX’s primary existence hinges on its ability of taking your Galaxy S8 phone and its display, and magically blowing it up into a desktop-sized screen. When standing alone, the DeX is actually quite a subtle and sexy looking thing. Folded up, the plate acts as a pedestal for you to prop up your phone.
Push down on the plate, and the dock reveals the built-in USB Type-C connector where the phone should be connected to. It’s got a bit of a push-and-pull flex to it too, so you don’t need to use any excessive force in order to make the phone sit sturdily.
The back of the DeX is where you’ll find all the physical ports: In total, you’ll get two USB 2.0 ports, one RJ45 LAN port, one HDMI connector, and a USB Type-C port, which acts as the DeX’s source of power when plugged in.
In all honesty, though, we wished that Samsung had installed a pair of USB 3.0 ports instead of USB 2.0, but we’re willing to let this issue slide, just because this is yet another first that Samsung can tick off its bucket list. After all, if the company does decide to invest further into the R&D of all future docking stations, the general assumption would mean that any and all future DeX docking stations will undoubtedly come built with USB 3.0 port (or more USB Type-C ports).
Moving forward: Using the DeX means that you will need to use a keyboard and mouse to navigate (because of its desktop convertible nature, obviously). To that end, you could physically connect a keyboard and mouse to the DeX via the USB ports, but you’d have to sacrifice the ability of connecting a another USB device to it.
This hindrance does leave us with what is the only other alternative to gaining access to the desktop experience: getting a wireless keyboard and mouse set, and connecting the peripherals to the Samsung Galaxy S8 via the phone’s Bluetooth mode. However, there is a caveat to this setup: you need to pair the peripherals to the phone before you place said phone on the DeX, because once it's docked, the phone’s functions are automatically disabled and shifted directly to the monitor, at which point, you’ll be needing the mouse and keyboard that you should’ve initially connected to the phone in the first place.
There’s also no 3.5mm jack on the docking station, and that makes it difficult for those of us who would want to connect our headphones directly to the phone, which also happens to be located at the base of the phone.