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Samsung Dex: Everything you need to know
Connecting your smartphone to a computer is nothing new. It’s the fastest way to transfer images and files back and forth by far. However, that’s often where the interaction stops. Enter Samsung Dex. In 2017, Samsung introduced a software platform designed to change how your phone and computer interact. Here’s everything you need to know.
What is Samsung Dex?
Essentially, Samsung Dex is a software platform that extends your smartphone or tablet into a full-size desktop experience. This means you can access key apps and features, but you can control everything from a mouse and keyboard. As you can see above, the interface closely resembles recent versions of Windows but with a decidedly Samsung twist. You can resize the various Dex windows, drag and drop them to your heart’s desire, and use familiar keyboard shortcuts to navigate.
The earliest versions of Samsung Dex required a docking station — either the Dex Station or Dex Pad — to power the software and peripherals. However, in recent years, Samsung has slimmed down the equipment required, moving to an HDMI adapter and a simple USB-C cable. Samsung even added wireless Dex support with the Galaxy Note 20 series launch, though it carries its own set of requirements. First and foremost, you’ll need a monitor or TV with the Miracast feature. It’s similar to Google’s Chrome-based casting feature, though slightly less common.
Need more connections? Here’s how to tether your Android phone to a PC
Samsung Dex initially offered support for Windows, macOS, and Linux. However, the compatibility has waned over the years, with Samsung dropping macOS support in early 2022. If you already have Dex on your Mac, it will continue to function, but you will not receive software updates or support.
As far as app support goes, Dex is a productivity powerhouse. You can open helpful options like Zoom Cloud Meetings, Skype, Adobe Acrobat Reader, and more. Microsoft’s Office suite also features heavily on the platform, with Word, Excel, Outlook, and Powerpoint.
How do you set up and use Samsung Dex?
There are a few different ways to set up Samsung Dex, and the process depends heavily on your device. You can tap into both wired and wireless Dex setups, so we’ll run through the steps for both methods.
Wired Dex setup
- Plug your Dex cable of choice into the HDMI port on your monitor. If you’re using a multiport adapter, connect it to the other end of your HDMI cable.
- Connect your device to the adapter using a USB-C cable. You should see a Samsung Dex logo appear once it is connected.
- Select your peripherals. If you’re connected through a laptop, you can use your trackpad and the built-in keyboard. If you’re only using your phone and a monitor, head to the Bluetooth settings and scan for connected devices.
That’s all there is to it. Once you have a connected device and peripherals, you should be able to get up and running quickly. You may also want to keep a wireless charging pad nearby in case you burn through your battery.
Wireless Dex setup
- Enter the screen mirroring mode on your TV or monitor.
- Open the Quick Settings menu on your Galaxy device and select Dex. Now choose your TV or monitor from the available devices.
That’s all it takes to get your phone set up for wireless Dex controls. Even better, you can continue using your phone while the TV or monitor acts as a second screen. You can also connect your keyboard and mouse directly to the TV to use it as a large monitor.
Which devices support Samsung Dex?
Since its introduction in 2017, Samsung Dex has been a mainstay on almost all of the company’s flagship devices. It arrived with the Galaxy S8 family and has since featured on all of the following:
- Galaxy S9, S10, S20, S21, S22 series
- Galaxy Note 8, Note 9, Note 10, Note 20 series
- Galaxy Tab S4, S6, S7, S8
- Galaxy Tab Active Pro and Active 3
- Galaxy Z Fold, Fold 2, Fold 3
However, the feature is notably absent from the Galaxy Z Flip 3. We don’t have an official reason for this, so you’ll have to stick with the Z Fold if you want Dex support on a foldable phone. You can also not use Samsung Dex with devices from other OEMs, including Apple iPhones and Google Pixel devices.
Do I need accessories to run Samsung Dex?
Once you’ve worked out whether or not your device supports Samsung Dex, it’s time to get connected. In simplest terms, all you need is a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, but Samsung has a few products that can expand your horizons. Sure, you can connect your phone with a USB-C cable, but you might also want to check these options out.
Samsung Multiport Adapter
This essentially works like any PC docking hub, and it plugs into your computer or monitor via either USB-C or HDMI. It also features an additional USB-C port for your phone and a USB 3.0 port to attach your keyboard or mouse.
Samsung Dex Cable
This cable is the perfect cross between an HDMI and a USB-C cable. It offers two male ends, so you can plug one straight into your monitor and the other into your phone. However, you will need a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse for further support.
You can also pick up an older Samsung Dex Station or Dex Pad if you need a wired connection. These launched in the early days of Samsung Dex and are no longer necessary, but they can serve as flexible docking stations with room for your peripherals as needed.
Once you get your phone connected, you might need to look at a wireless mouse and keyboard setup. Luckily, we’ve already put in the work to choose our favorites. Here are a few to choose from:
What displays work with the platform?
If you’re planning to stick with a wired connection, your monitor options are almost limitless. As long as you have an HDMI or USB-C port, you should be able to set up Samsung Dex. However, you’ll want to consider the supported resolution and aspect ratio before spending some money. The best way to find a compatible monitor is to head to the Settings menu on your phone. Locate the Dex menu, where your phone will list the supported display resolutions. You may also have to adjust your monitor settings upon setup, but that should only take a minute or two.
Those of you hoping to tap into a wireless Dex setup will have to be a bit more careful. You’ll need a TV with Miracast support, which you can find on most Samsung smart TVs released since 2019. It’s also found on Samsung’s line of smart monitors. If you’re ready to start shopping, here are two of our most helpful guides:
Can it replace your PC?
The million-dollar question is, can you use Samsung Dex to replace your laptop? The answer is yes, but not for everything. The platform has a few limitations, like the fact that you can only run five apps at once. In the early days of Dex, we had Nirave replace his desktop with Samsung’s setup, and you can read his experience here.
It works great if you need to hop through some Word documents and PowerPoint presentations, but you may have trouble if you require heavier-duty computing power. It’s not because Samsung’s devices are underpowered, but rather because there aren’t always apps that can match the power of desktop processes.
Instead, you would have to layer a virtual desktop like VMware or Citrix on top of your Dex setup. Depending on your device, it may result in some slowdowns, so you may have to be careful. On the bright side, Samsung and VMware recently announced improved second screen support for said virtual environments. This new capability would allow Galaxy Tab S8 and Galaxy S22 devices to display a virtual Windows environment with seamless content transfer from one screen to another.
See also: The best remote desktop apps for Android
What cable do I need for Samsung Dex?
Depending on your monitor, you will need a USB-C cable or an HDMI cable. If you use an HDMI cable, you will have to convert it to USB-C to connect your phone.
How do I download apps in Samsung Dex?
From Dex mode, select your apps and open the Galaxy Store. Search for your apps in the store and press the download button.
How do I use Dex on my laptop?
Depending on the age of your laptop, you should be able to connect your phone via USB-C cable. Samsung Dex is only supported on Windows 10 and 11 devices — macOS support ended in early 2022.