If you’re looking for a budget-friendly desktop UI experience, without the hassle of buying an expensive PC, you might be interested in Samsung Dex vs Chromebook.
Samsung Dex is an underrated feature on S8 and newer android phones, and most Android phone owners don’t even know a thing about this feature. What it does is rearrange your UI to a more desktop-like experience. There is a catch though, which I’ll mention a little later on.
Chromebooks are similar, in a way, because they use Chrome OS which is basically Chrome’s version of a desktop UI. Although Chrome OS can run Android apps, it’s not exactly based on Android, but rather a more advanced version of the Chrome web browser.
What I’ll cover:
Samsung Dex vs Chromebook:
Today, I’m going to quickly compare the two platforms to provide you with the information you need to determine which one is right for you. There are benefits to both, but also disadvantages, so let’s run through it.
Samsung Dex Pros:
- Already in your phone.
- Works with multiple windows
- Compatible with all the apps on your phone.
- Ability to fullscreen apps from your phone.
- Wireless on S20 and similar models.
Starting with Samsung Dex, the obvious advantage to Samsung Dex is that it’s already built-in to your phone, assuming you have a compatible device, of course. It’s already in your pocket! When connected to a USB-C to HDMI hub, you can use your monitor, keyboard, and mouse with it too, the same as with a PC or laptop.
For the most part, the performance on Dex is great, although it will probably vary depending on your phone’s hardware. In my case, I rarely ran into issues, everything was snappy and you can have multiple windows open at a time. The experience is even better with the latest S-series phones, it seems like Dex is wireless on S20 and related models – I can’t wait to try that out.
Once set up with the right peripherals, Samsung Dex is a great portable workstation. You can use all of the apps that are on your phone, including Word, Google Docs, spreadsheets, Facebook, YouTube, and whatnot, like on a computer. It’s kind of like a portable computer in your pocket.
Samsung Dex Downsides:
The main downside to Samsung Dex is you have to buy some additional hardware or devices to complete the setup.
You Need Additional Hardware:
For example, you’ll could need…
- USB-C to HDMI Hub (Ideally with a charging option)
- HDMI Monitor (a portable monitor is an option)
- HDMI Cable
- Mouse (Bluetooth is an option)
- Keyboard (Bluetooth is also an option here)
You might already have some of these devices lying around, chances are the only thing you’re missing is a hub, which is not very expensive. The good news is a wireless mouse and keyboard are very cheap, I recommend looking for thin and small ones that you can slide into a backpack with you.
I recommend this hub:
You might also want to buy a wireless mouse and keyboard combo, to make things more portable and cut down on wires. So that’s another expense.
Depends on Dongles:
You also need to be aware that your setup depends on these little dongles which can be faulty or breakdown from time to time. In short, Samsung Dex requires external dongles, unless you use the wireless mode, which I haven’t had a chance to test because it’s exclusive to a handful of new phones.
Limited to Mobile-Apps
A couple of other downsides about Samsung Dex is you’re limited to the mobile versions of apps, which tend to be a bit lite and lack some of the features you might need.
For example, the Chrome Browser on your phone will be the mobile version, not the version you might be used to on a laptop or PC. For the most part, the mobile versions of apps accomplish the same thing but they’re optimized for mobile devices.
You also need to keep in mind that not every Android app is optimized for Dex. Some of them don’t even have the full-screen option, but you can usually force them to resize by dragging the window.
Doesn’t Receive as Many Updates
Dex also doesn’t receive as many updates as Chrome OS, and bugs are slower to be fixed too. For the average user, however, it works fine, and it’s a cool cheap way to create a desktop UI from your phone.
You can also see all your phone’s notifications in one place, for example, Whatsapp, Facebook, and other apps. The notifications will pop up as a drop down notification at the bottom of the screen, very convenient.
Can You Use Dex in Landscape Mode with Two Monitors?
It seems like Samsung Dex will be receiving dual monitor support in the near future, but at the moment, it’s possible, but a little complicated to configure. I would simply avoid trying to use dual monitors on Samsung Dex for now. To multi-task with Dex, you can resize and snap windows to either side of the screen.
Why Use Samsung Dex?
There are quite a few situations where Dex can come in handy. While some people use for office work (with a keyboard and mouse attached) most people use it for mobile-gaming on a bigger screen.
When connected to an HDMI display, you can use your tablet or phone as a sketchpad or trackpad too. It’s helpful for artists. Overall, Dex is interesting to use, and when paired with a portable monitor, it can be a great portable workstation. You can also follow this guide for some ideas on how to run Windows programs on Dex.
Fun fact, I came across Samsung Dex when researching topics for this very website. The idea was to make a website for portable workstations, hence My Portable Office.
But why would you go through the hassle of all that when you can simply bring a lightweight laptop or Chromebook with you?
Chromebooks & Chrome OS
Chromebooks are definitely a lot more popular than Dex, they use a full-scale operating system called Chrome OS. The operating system can handle all the usual tasks, and most modern Chromebooks support Android apps too.
- Chromebooks are all-in-one (no extra devices needed).
- Great battery life.
- Most are compatible with Android apps.
- Use the desktop-version of Chrome Web Browser
- Budget-friendly alternative to laptops.
The most obvious advantage of Chromebooks is they’re complete products – you don’t need to buy any extra devices to make them work. Chromebooks look like laptops, they have a display, keyboard, trackpad, USB ports, and various other connectors. Most of them have HDMI ports too, so you can easily set up a dual-screen display.
It’s all there. No need to carry anything besides the power cable around, and you probably don’t even need that because Chromebooks are known to have very long battery lives. The only difference between a Chromebook and a laptop is essentially the operating system. Regular laptops use Windows 10 while Chromebooks use Chrome OS.
Mobile-Grade Specs, Better Than Mobile!
Chromebooks also tend to have mobile-grade hardware (CPU, RAM, etc) and are designed to be lite and budget-friendly. Basically, they’re cheap versions of regular laptops! You can use a Chromebook for pretty much everything besides heavy gaming because they simply don’t have the hardware for graphics.
Video editing might be a bit laggy too, depending on your project. Overall, though, if you need a budget-friendly laptop-like device, a Chromebook could be what you need. Wondering if a Chromebook is worth it?
Can Run Android Apps, Same as Dex!
Getting back to mobile versions of apps, most Chromebooks can run Android apps from Google Play and they work quite well. It’s the same as Dex. The Chrome browser version is the same as you would find on a PC – it’s not the mobile version like on Samsung Dex. For a list of Chromebooks that support Android, take a look at this list.
If you own a Chromebook, you have probably noticed how often the operating system is updated. Dex isn’t updated as often. I believe the reason for that is simply because Dex is not very mainstream at the moment, it’s more like a side feature. Most people don’t even know about it.
Chromebooks, especially the newer models, don’t have too many deal-breaker downsides. For older models, the main downside would be the fact that they’re not compatible with Google Play apps.
Some Don’t Support Android Apps:
I happen to own a Chromebook that never received Google Play support, even though it was planned, and I’m still bitter about that. While you can still browse the internet, you’re limited to web extensions which don’t really do the trick. Netflix works and YouTube work fine though.
Not Good for Video Editing and Gaming
The other downside I already mentioned is the lack of powerful hardware, such as a graphics card. Most modern Chromebooks have a decent CPU and RAM but they don’t have graphics cards, so you won’t be able to play triple-A games. However, as Google improves its software, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some gaming-capable Chromebooks in the near future.
You’ll also be limited to the web-extensions and Android apps, most of which can run offline, but it might be a change of pace if you’re used to a PC. With a Chromebook, you don’t really download programs, they have to be apps or web-extensions. For most people, a Chromebook is fine, not too expensive to protect with your life, but good enough for daily tasks and casual use.
Why Use a Chromebook?
The main reason to use a Chromebook would be a budget-friendly alternative to a PC or laptop. Chromebooks are relatively fast, good for office work, have great battery life, and you can attach all kinds of devices through USB ports.
The main issue is Chrome OS takes some getting used to, but for tasks like writing in Google Docs, browsing the internet, watching YouTube, watching Netflix, it’s more than capable. Basically the same as a laptop!
Can You Use Two Screens with a Chromebook?
Yes, if your Chromebook has more than one display port, you can use two screens with a Chromebook. The display modes are similar to PC – landscape, duplicate, and extend. You might also be able to use a USB to HDMI adapter to add more HDMI displays.
Samsung Dex vs Chromebook: Who Wins?
I admit, I’m more of a consumer, so I don’t exactly know all of the technical, behind-the-scenes details of these two platforms. What I do have is hands-on experience with both of them and there are some clear benefits to both of them…
For me, I like Samsung Dex because it’s already on my phone, and you take your phone pretty much everywhere with you. The only thing that you need to make it work is a USB-C to HDMI dongle and a display. It’s useful when you’re traveling somewhere that has a display or monitor lying around.
Samsung Dex is the bare-bones, cheapest way to create a desktop-like UI for your work needs. I mainly use it for gaming my TV, which is a lot of fun. While it can be used for the longterm, I still prefer laptops and Chromebooks.
Chromebooks are more expensive, but they have a lot more features, and you get the benefits of a full-scale operating system, with Android app support. Chromebooks also come with a keyboard, display, and USB ports (to name a few) so you don’t need any dongles. And to top it off, Chromebooks can easily support two or more monitors. So it’s obvious that the winner here is the Chromebooks.
Winner – Chromebooks!
Do remember that if you want a laptop that you can video edit and play games on, a traditional laptop with a graphics card is what you need. Chromebooks don’t cut it, at least not yet. Here are the best-sellers on Amazon for traditional laptops.
That doesn’t mean Dex is useless, the platform has its place, and I’m curious to see how it will evolve in the near future. Maybe there will be some laptop-like shells that simply require your phone to run, that would be interesting for sure!
Either way, having a USB-C to HDMI dongle is pretty handy, especially if you want to show someone some content from your phone on a TV or monitor. Have you tried Samsung Dex and Chromebooks? What do you think? Leave a comment below.