There's another phone that's capable of standing in for your PC. The Motorola Edge Plus just got a new feature that allows people who bought the phone through Verizon to easily plug into an external monitor when they need a bigger screen for getting work done.
The feature, which Motorola calls Ready For, is arriving on the Motorola Edge Plus along with an update to Android 11. ("A flagship phone is only now getting an Android 11 update?" you may find yourself asking, and you'd be right to do, considering that Android 11 first arrived last September.) It figures to make the $999 Motorola Edge Plus a more attractive option for productivity-minded users.
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Motorola's Ready For allows you to connect your phone to a monitor using either a USB-C-to-USB-C cable or a USB-C-to-HDMI option. Plugging in your phone launches the Ready For Experience Hub, which includes the option of a multi-window interface on the larger screen. You also have the option of connecting a mouse and keyboard over Bluetooth for a complete workstation.
With smartphones becoming the primary device for more people, phone makers have warmed to the idea of adding features that allow you to turn your phone into a portable PC. Motorola says it was further motivated to develop its Ready For feature by the move toward people working remotely. This trend will likely continue even after the end of the coronavirus pandemic.
Motorola sees use cases beyond just running productivity programs on a larger screen (though that doubtlessly will be a big appeal for Motorola Edge Plus owners). You'll also be able to conduct video chats through Ready For, benefitting from the 108MP main camera on the Motorola Edge Plus or from that phone's ultrawide angle lens if you need to include more people in the call.
Beyond productivity boosting, Motorola envisions users playing games on a bigger screen than the Edge's 6.7-inch display, with Bluetooth-connected controllers boosting gameplay as well. You can also connect the Motorola Edge Plus to a bigger screen when it's time to watch your favorite shows or stream a movie.
If these capabilities sound familiar, it's because Motorola isn't the first phone maker to tout the phone as a portable PC. Samsung introduced its DeX feature to its Galaxy S and Note flagships years ago — you can even connect wirelessly with recent Samsung phones. That's more convenient than carrying around an additional cable.
But while phone makers may be embracing this concept, are smartphone users? At this point, being able to use your phone like a PC seems more like a "nice to have" feature instead of a must-have one. In our punditry analysis, this feature appeals to a subset of users, not the sort of thing that makes your more or less inclined to buy a particular phone. But if Motorola is right about remote work trends, its Ready For feature is poised to take advantage.
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Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.