Samsung’s flagship phones have always been powerful machines, but purely ones that live in your pocket.
The DeX station is the missing piece in the puzzle, transforming the Galaxy S8 and S8+ from mere phones to multi-purpose PCs.
It’s a docking station that lets you hook your handset up to a mouse, keyboard and screen. Your phone becomes the brains of the set-up, and you get a familiar way to work that won’t end in severe finger cramp.
Since you do so much on your phone already, it only makes sense to extend and expand that experience.
But how does it work exactly? Are there any limitations? We went all hands on DeX to find out.
SAMSUNG DEX STATION DESIGN
The DeX Station is a compact, circular slab that fits nicely in one hand. It’s about the same dimensions as a hockey puck, but flip up the lid and you’ll see a USB-C port to stick your new Samsung Galaxy S8 on.
The ring around the lid? That’s a built-in cooling fan, designed to keep your phone from overheating.
Round the back, there’s an HDMI port, Ethernet, twin USB ports and a charging port. Despite what its size suggests, it’s not meant to be portable; instead, it should stay sat on your desk for those moments when you need to get some real work done on your phone.
SAMSUNG DEX STATION USAGE
You don’t have to be a tech fiend to work this. Simply plug your S8 or S8+ plus in, hook it up to a full HD monitor, mouse and keyboard (USB or Bluetooth), and then you’re good to go.
There was a little wait between the phone being plugged in and it actually showing a desktop on the screen but it’s nothing too significant. There’s one thing to note though: it will not work if it’s not connected to the charging cable. The good thing is you don’t have to worry about battery, the bad thing is it’s not meant to work at Starbucks.
Once docked, you get the full Samsung experience, only on a desktop. You can resize windows, move them around, and open multiple ones just like you would on your Mac or PC.
Right away, the experience should be completely familiar, even if it’s actually Android running in the background and not macOS or Windows.
Your apps are minimised in the bottom left, and your smartphone settings are on the bottom right. Apps exist on your desktop, and know you’re in DeX mode, so you get the desktop versions of websites when using Samsung’s browser. That’s smart. It's snappy, too: everything loaded quickly and was instantly responsive.
There are limitations, though. Apps that require touch, like games, aren’t guaranteed to work, and only apps that have been optimised for DeX will adapt to the desktop properly. Right now that includes most of Samsung’s pre-installed apps and a handful of others, including Microsoft Office. Anyway, we’d assume if you’re using the DeX that it’s probably more for productivity reasons and less for play.
What about text messages and calls? They come in the same, since it’s your phone working as the brain in this usual workstation set-up. You will get a notification at the bottom right of your monitor, and you can choose to answer the call via a speaker (if you have one plugged in) or pick up your phone if you’d like more privacy. We were concerned at the lag of the phone resuming mobile operation, but a Samsung spokesperson explained that while the screen was loading, the call is already active. We will be testing that out to see if that transition is truly seamless.
The DeX is designed for extended usage, so overheating was a major concern for Samsung. That’s why the cooling fan we mentioned earlier kicks into action when temperatures get too high. You don’t have to do anything, and it’ll switch off once temperatures are back to normal, too - no need to worry about constantly monitoring how hot the phone gets under the collar.
SAMSUNG DEX STATION INITIAL VERDICT
Given how fast the S8 and S8+ are, the DeX station makes a lot of sense.
The plug and play method is a lot more straightforward than wireless screen mirroring, which doesn’t always work, and the desktop experience is easily on par with a budget laptop or stick PC.
We were only able to spend a short time with it, so will need to give it a full review to really understand its abilities - and more importantly see how it handles the heat.