Samsung's Galaxy S9 is the Android phone to beat. And if you're an entrepreneur, you're probably curious about how the latest smartphone will impact your business productivity. While the Galaxy S9 boasts some valuable business features, the most powerful work innovation Samsung is pushing is their $99 DeX Pad, which is a newer version of the $150 DeX Station that the company released to work with the Galaxy S8.
The DeX, in both versions, is a docking station that promises to turn your Galaxy phone into a functional PC, so you can work on the go without lugging around your laptop or tablet. By plugging your Galaxy into Samsung's port, you can access whatever is on your phone on a full-sized desktop screen, complete with a keyboard and mouse. Phones docked in the DeX remain connected and can send and receive phone calls and texts, but the phone's screen is inactive and all input is via the mouse and keyboard. Users can switch a live call to the phone screen without being disconnected by simply removing the phone from the DeX.
If the idea of a docking station that turns a phone into a desktop sounds familiar to you, that's because it is. Prior and current attempts at conquering the phone desktop dock space include the Microsoft Display Dock, Motorola's Atrix (now defunct), Sentio's Superbook, HP Elite x3 Desk Dock and a handful of others. Traditionally, docks that turn phones into desktops have only managed niche appeal, but Samsung thinks the new and improved DeX Pad will be different.
How is the DeX new?
The reviews of the previous Samsung DeX read much like reviews for prior attempts at desk docks: People liked the general idea but weren't sure it would go anywhere. Eric McCarty, vice president of mobile B2B product marketing at Samsung Electronics America, said the DeX "delivers seamless access to business applications, including Microsoft, Adobe as well as virtual Windows desktops and apps from Citrix, VMware and Amazon for today's mobile workforces."
This year, the company has streamlined things and lowered the cost. The new Pad lets your phone lie flat, making it a perfect trackpad. The new model features a built-in fan to keep the phone cool. There are multiple connection ports, including two USB-A, USB-C, HDMI out and a fast charge wall charger. The DeX supports Bluetooth and RF wireless devices that need a USB RF dongle.
The DeX Station works only with the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+, while the S9 and S9+ only work wtih the DeX Pad. That's because of the USB-C connector is not backward compatible with older Galaxy S-series smartphones since they have micro USB ports. The dock adjusts for the different sizes of the Galaxy S8 and S8+.
The South Korean company spent a lot of time retooling their UI to make sure it would function equally well on screens of different sizes (with or without a mouse and keyboard), and the ability to use Microsoft and Adobe products – not to mention access remote desktops – is a real win. The DeX uses an enhanced Android interface which supports multiple resizable windows, dragging and dropping files and common keyboard shortcuts such as Ctrl-X to cut text and Ctrl-V to paste. Samsung has collaborated with Microsoft, Adobe and other software publishers to optimize Microsoft Office apps, Adobe Lightroom Mobile and other popular mobile apps to appear more natural the large screen. Apps that aren't optimized may appear in a phone-shaped window but will be functional. On the corporate side, the DeX supports virtual Windows desktops via Citrix, VMware, Amazon Web Services.
Samsung has reportedly received positive feedback regarding the DeX from enterprise-level organizations, especially those in the finance, government and healthcare fields. When asked about public response, McCarty confirmed that but said there had also been strong interest from small and medium-size businesses, including those in the home office segment.
Will it work for business?
So, what does all of this mean for you as an entrepreneur? Is now the time to jump on the phone dock bandwagon? Business News Daily spoke to Werner Goertz, Gartner research director for personal technologies for his take on the DeX Station and how it could impact the way business is done.
We asked Goertz why he thought previous attempts to create a phone-to-desktop dock hadn't succeeded. He said it boiled down to two primary issues: lack of demand (especially in the case of the Motorola Atrix) and absence of a real productive environment. He was quick to point out that in many ways, the Samsung DeX is different from other docks on the market, and that because of these differences, there may be a greater demand for the DeX now.
Goertz is right: Unlike other phone/dock combinations, Samsung has fully integrated security features and biometric authenticators into their system. Users can even unlock the DeX system using the rear fingerprint reader or facial recognition built into the phones. They've succeeded at creating, as Goertz put it, "a more complete processing environment." In other words, the Samsung DeX looks, feels and functions more like a stand-alone PC than previous phone-to-desktop docks.
Despite the many features of the Samsung DeX, Goertz thinks it's unlikely that a phone-to-desktop dock will ever completely replace personal laptops: "There will always be a segment of users, especially in content creation, that will prefer a laptop or even desktop." However, that doesn't mean the Samsung DeX is off the table for small businesses.
Docks like the DeX could potentially save business owners money, especially those who operate in high-cost real estate areas. As rental costs climb, many SMBs are shifting from a one-desk-per-employee model to a hot-desk model where employees on a rotating schedule share the same desk space. The DeX Station or Pad are ideal for this setup as it allows multiple employees to work at the same workstation at different times. The only caveat (and it's an expensive one) is that they'd all have to own a Galaxy S8/S8+ for the Station or an S9 for the Pad.
Keep the DeX Station or Pad in mind for your office, but do so with a little caution and weigh the costs. But don't throw out your laptop just yet.
Additional reporting by Anna Attkisson.