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What is Samsung DeX?

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Samsung DeX, short for “Desktop eXperience,” is a tool developed by Samsung and aimed at productivity users who want to turn their smartphones or tablets into workstations. It's available for select Galaxy devices, and as the name implies, it offers a desktop-like experience.

Samsung DeX goes about delivering a desktop environment in several ways. Firstly, DeX allows users to connect Galaxy smartphones and tablets to external monitors and use input devices like keyboards and mice. Granted, these input devices are also supported by Android phones developed by other brands, but Samsung DeX offers more than just compatibility with peripherals and Android screen mirroring to an external monitor.

DeX is a reinterpretation of One UI with desktop users in mind and has several unique features. It draws some inspiration from operating systems such as Microsoft Windows. Therefore, it has a taskbar, desktop shortcuts, a notification center, dedicated mouse and keyboard settings, and a Finder, and it even has window-snapping features similar to Windows OS.

For enterprises, Samsung DeX offers management options through Samsung Knox, allowing network administrators to restrict access to certain features for added security.

Samsung released DeX in 2017, but initially, the software tool required a dedicated accessory called DeX Station. At one point, a couple of years after release, DeX even supported Linux, allowing enthusiasts to use a compatible Linux distro instead of Android OS as its foundation. However, support for this feature ended with the release of Android 10.

Later, Samsung made DeX work without a dedicated DeX Station and also released Wireless DeX along with a DeX for PC Windows app. However, for the best DeX experience, users are recommended to use a compatible HDMI hub to connect smartphones and tablets to external monitors and peripherals, or to use DeX on-device (on Galaxy tablets). Samsung no longer sells official DeX Stations, but many third-party HDMI hubs are compatible with DeX.

Samsung DeX is also available on Galaxy tablets, where it can be enabled as an alternative to standard One UI without requiring an external monitor. Unlike Galaxy smartphones, which always need an external monitor to run DeX, Galaxy tablets can run DeX on-device. The desktop UI pairs perfectly with official accessories such as keyboard covers and can turn Galaxy tablets into laptop replacements.

A Samsung DeX app for Microsoft Windows also exists, allowing users to connect a Galaxy smartphone to a PC via USB and run DeX in Windows OS.

On Galaxy phones and tablets, Samsung DeX can conveniently be enabled or disabled via a dedicated quick toggle.

Samsung DeX gained new features with the One UI 5.0 and One UI 5.1 updates, such as a Finder embedded in the taskbar, a calendar pop-up, a redesigned notifications panel, and improved split-screen and multi-window.

What types of apps can Samsung DeX run?

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Although Samsung DeX doesn't look anything like the standard One UI or Android OS, the desktop environment is built on top of Google's mobile operating system, which means it is compatible only with Android apps. There are no DeX-only apps.

The vast majority of Android apps can be launched in Samsung DeX. And most apps can be resized or run in full-screen thanks to Android's adaptive layout feature. The few apps that haven't adhered to Google's adaptive layout will run in a window that cannot be resized.

First-party Samsung apps offer the best DeX experience because their layouts can change drastically to accommodate the desktop environment. Likewise, some of Google's apps, such as the Chrome internet browser, use a more desktop-friendly layout in Samsung DeX by default.

App windows in Samsung DeX can be pinned to remain on top of other apps and even have an opacity slider. Windows can also be snapped to the left or right side of the screen for split-view mode, using DeX keyboard shortcuts or by dragging windows to the edges of the screen using a mouse. And with the release of One UI 5.1, Samsung DeX gained support for corner window snapping, allowing users to switch to a four-app multi-window layout on the fly.

Which devices support Samsung DeX?

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Samsung DeX is supported by a wide variety of Galaxy phones and tablets, mostly in the upper-mid-range and high-end segments. This feature is exclusive to Samsung devices.

Devices supporting wired Samsung DeX:

  • Galaxy S8, Galaxy S9, Galaxy S10, Galaxy S20, Galaxy S21, Galaxy S22, and Galaxy S23 series. Galaxy S21 FE.
  • Galaxy Note 8, Galaxy Note 9, Galaxy Note 10, Galaxy Note 20 series.
  • Galaxy A90 5G.
  • Original Galaxy Fold and the Galaxy Z Fold series
  • Galaxy Tab S4, Galaxy Tab S6, Galaxy Tab S7, Galaxy Tab S8, Galaxy Tab S5e, Galaxy Tab S6 Lite (after One UI 3.1 update and on-device only), Galaxy Tab Active Pro, Galaxy Tab Active 3.

Devices supporting Samsung Wireless DeX:

  • Galaxy S9, Galaxy S10, Galaxy S20, Galaxy S21, Galaxy S22, Galaxy S23 series, and Galaxy S21 FE.
  • Galaxy Note 9, Galaxy Note 10, Galaxy Note 20 series.
  • Galaxy A90 5G.
  • Original Galaxy Fold and the Galaxy Z Fold series.
  • Galaxy Tab S5e, Galaxy Tab S6, Galaxy Tab S7, Galaxy Tab S8 series, and Galaxy Tab Active 3.

Devices supporting Samsung DeX on PC:

  • Galaxy S9, Galaxy S10, Galaxy S20, Galaxy S21, Galaxy S22, and Galaxy S23 series. Galaxy S21 FE.
  • Galaxy Note 9, Galaxy Note 10, Galaxy Note 20 series.
  • Galaxy A90 5G.
  • Original Galaxy Fold and the Galaxy Z Fold series
  • Galaxy tablets do not support Samsung DeX on PC.

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