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Image credit: Chris Velazco/Engadget

Samsung's Galaxy Note 9 has a much more useful DeX desktop mode

No dock necessary.
Chris Velazco/Engadget

Samsung has been trying to turn its smartphones into pseudo-desktops with DeX since the Galaxy S8, a notably rocky start. With the Galaxy S9, DeX worked mostly the same but relied on a new dock that turned the phone into a trackpad. But as they say, the third time's the charm. Samsung has simplified the entire DeX experience on the Galaxy Note 9, and that ultimately makes it a lot more useful.

For one, you no longer have to dock your phone into a separate device. DeX mode will simply turn on when you connect an HDMI to USB-C adapter to the Note 9 and any monitor. This time around, Samsung is aiming for a second-screen experience with DeX instead of trying to mimic a desktop. The Note 9 still functions normally in this mode, and you can launch an app to use it as a trackpad and virtual keyboard with the monitor. The idea is that you can use the extra screen to play a video or presentation while using the phone as you usually would.

Honestly, that alone seems more functional than the past DeX attempts. Last year, I questioned why anyone would want a phone that acts as a desktop. Unless you have a keyboard and monitor set up somewhere for regular usage, it just doesn't make much sense. (And even then, you're better off getting a cheap standalone PC.) But if DeX is just a second-screen experience that requires carrying around a small HDMI adapter, all of a sudden it becomes your best travel companion. You can use it to power streaming video while you're sitting in a hotel or stuck in a remote office without a functional PC. And if you need to do some serious typing, you can easily connect a portable Bluetooth keyboard.

Technically, the Galaxy Note 9's DeX mode should work with any USB-C to HDMI adapter, but of course Samsung is pushing its own gear as the best method. The new DeX also works with the Galaxy Tab S4, which is useful if you need a bigger canvas for drawing and taking notes.

Follow all the latest news from Galaxy Unpacked 2018 here!

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