One of the great things about USB-C is that it does more than just charge your phone. Faster versions of the standard allow you to connect devices to a bunch of external accessories — including external displays. Unfortunately not all phone makers let this happen, though it looks like Google may be finally relenting.
Pixel devices have a feature called DisplayPort via USB-C, which has been locked at a hardware level until now. But that may be changing with the Pixel 8, with the discovery that the feature can be enabled via a shell command on rooted Tensor G3 phones — as discovered by Mishaal Rahman.
I WAS RIGHT! THE PIXEL 8 SUPPORTS DISPLAY OUTPUT!Earlier I shared a method to enable DisplayPort Alt Mode on the Pixel 8. At first I thought it didn't work, but @mile_freak07 tried the same method and it worked for him!Video proof + full details linked in the reply 👇 pic.twitter.com/YXb59urrrPOctober 15, 2023
That means the feature is now only locked at a software level, suggesting we may see proper desktop and external monitor support on Pixel devices in the near future.
Rahman has posted about the Pixel 8’s new display output capabilities on his Patreon (no paywall). The Android sleuth’s initial attempts to enable the Pixel 8’s DisplayPort Alternate Mode on a rooted device didn’t work. Other testers then proved him wrong using the exact same method, which Rahman was later able to replicate on video.
Apparently it’s possible to mirror a Pixel 8 display using a DisplayPort-compatible USB-C to USB-C cable, and with a USB-C to HDMI cable — though Rahman believes the latter method may be responsible for his earlier failed attempt.
Given the fact this feature can only be enabled on a rooted device right now means it’s going to be out of reach for most Pixel 8 owners. That said, Rahman claims the feature can be activated after changing a single system property, which suggests Google could unlock the feature in a future software update. Such is the benefit of a software lock over hardware lock.
The only question is when we might see proper desktop support return to Android, and the Google Pixel range. There’s a lot more to it than just mirroring your phone screen on a display. Then again these things don’t happen overnight, and this is a good first step towards making it happen.
We’re just going to have to sit tight, be patient, and see whether this is something that we're likely to see with the launch of Android 15 or not.