Smartphones are more powerful than the computers used to fake the moon landing, but can a smartphone really replace a PC? Samsung thinks so, and alongside its new Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus smartphones, it’s introducing its new DeX Pad accessory.
Last year the company launched the first DeX product, a docking station that allowed you to dock your Galaxy S8, connect a bluetooth keyboard and mouse, and use a suite of desktop applications. Samsung’s next iteration of the DeX accessory is designed more for portability and takes into account customer feedback from DeX users over the past year.
One of the biggest issues with the DeX station was that it wasn’t very portable. Instead of inspiring the portable workforce Samsung had hoped it would, DeX still required you to carry a physical keyboard and mouse. The DeX Pad addresses this, as it is now as flat as the Earth and you can use your phone screen as a virtual keyboard and mouse.
By default, the screen acts as a virtual trackpad allowing you to navigate the DeX — which stands for Desktop Experience — interface. When you click on a text input field, the phone screen shows the same on-screen keyboard as your phone uses. It works fairly well, but it’s still a little awkward and not quite as convenient as a regular keyboard and mouse.
Alongside the DeX Pad, Samsung also announced a few upgrades to the DeX experience. The DeX pad lets you output in up to 2K resolution, all powered by your smartphone. Samsung has also worked with a few developers to optimize their applications, and built partnerships around developers like Square Enix for gaming and Microsoft and Citrix for Enterprise.
The partnership with Square Enix is especially interesting — the two companies have worked together to optimize Final Fantasy IV to work with the DeX experience. This means you can go from playing it on the touchscreen to using the keyboard and mouse and the experience is near seamless. Once more games are optimized, I can certainly see this being an interesting way to game without having to sync progress between multiple devices.
Unfortunately, there’s still a few partnerships — like with Photoshop, which was announced with the first DeX station — curiously missing full optimization, so we’d take any of these new partnerships with a pinch of salt. That said, Samsung includes DeX Labs in the SDK, so any developer can optimize for DeX and all of the apps are the standard app versions found in the Play Store.
The Samsung DeX Pad is the latest in what will likely become many DeX devices and shows Samsung listens to customer feedback. There’s still plenty of areas to be addressed though. It remains to be seen whether DeX is really the solution to mobile working. That said, it’s an interesting concept for people who travel a lot, as it’s a much portable way to work.
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