Meet DeX: Dock Turns Galaxy S8 Into Mini PC

Editors' Note: This article originally appeared on March 29, 2017. We've updated it with pricing info from Samsung.

Between the blazing Snapdragon 835 CPU and 4GB of RAM, the Galaxy S8 and S8+ have a lot of power under the hood. But what if you want more real estate than a 5.8- or 6.2-inch screen?

Enter DeX, a new $150 desktop dock that gives you a big-screen Android experience, essentially turning this handset into a mini PC.

The DeX dock delivers a big-screen Android experience with mouse and keyboard.

The DeX dock delivers a big-screen Android experience with mouse and keyboard.

The DeX is a compact, oval-shaped dock that has a USB-C port for plugging in your phone. There's two USB ports in the back for plugging in peripherals, plus an HDMI port and Ethernet port.

MORE: Best Galaxy S6 and S7 Trade-In Deals

Once you pop in the Galaxy S8, it will light up whatever monitor you have plugged into the DeX via HDMI. Eventually. At least in our demo, it took a while for the lock screen to illuminate on the monitor.

Another bummer: the DeX is designed to output at 1080p and not the sharper 4K resolution.

The dock has two USB ports, HDMI and Ethernet.

The dock has two USB ports, HDMI and Ethernet.

To log in, you can either enter your phone's password using a physical keyboard (Bluetooth or USB) that's connected to the dock. Or you could simply stare into the S8 and leverage its facial recognition.

The desktop experience isn't just your smartphone blown up. Samsung worked to optimize the interface and a number of its own apps to make full use of a bigger display. You'll see an app launcher to the left and a settings menu to the right along the bottom of the screen.

The front of the DeX easily slides open to reveal a USB-C port.

The front of the DeX easily slides open to reveal a USB-C port.

Even better, Samsung has enabled better multitasking by letting you run two apps side by side. For example, we put a browser window on the left and the email client on the right. You even get access to common right-click commands on the mouse and keyboard shortcuts (like Ctrl C and Ctrl V).

In addition to Samsung's own apps, some third-party programs already work well with the DeX dock. Microsoft's Android Office apps are among them, as well as Adobe Lightroom for editing photos. Other apps, at least for now, look like a smartphone window writ large.

Rather run Windows 10? The DeX supports that, too, so long as you bring your own virtualization app like Citrix.

Right now, the DeX feels more like a niche accessory now instead of a mainstream one, making it a solid option for businesses who accommodate remote workers. A mobile DeX dock, one that doubled as a laptop, would be more appealing. In fact, Apple was recently granted a patent for just such an idea, which would turn an iPhone into a touchpad of sorts when plugged into a lap dock.

Nevertheless, the DeX provides a pretty clever way to tap the S8's powerful guts. A day after unveiling the DeX alongside the Galaxy S8 and S8+, Samsung announced a $150 price tag for the device. It will ship in late April, though you can pre-order the DeX accessory now.

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.