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A Workday with DeX and S24 Ultra

(Topic created on: 4 weeks ago)
Samsung Members Star ★
In collaboration with Samsung
I have been saved by DeX before when I had forgotten my laptop and needed to fix some tasks quickly. Now I wanted to take it a step further and actually make it through a full workday using only my Galaxy S24 Ultra and DeX. To be transparent I have loaned a S24U from Samsung, my own phone is a S22U (which also runs DeX really smoothly), but it is still my own thoughts and opinions in this text. With that said, I’m a design manager, and my typical workday is a lot in design- and collaboration tools and some other web-based services. All of these are actually available in a web-based variant too, which makes this experiment possible (using heavy desktop photo and video editing tools wouldn’t be possible, so I stick to a more “normal” work day. Also, even if it was totally possible, I wouldn’t do this a day when I have to do more heavy design work, but let me come back to that.
So, the day starts at 06:30 when my S24 Ultra wakes me up using my Spotify playlist. After a quick breakfast reading up on the latest news I head out to my car where Android Auto automatically kicks off showing me the traffic situation and estimated time of arrival at the office in the city. I got stuck in some queues but my phone helped me find an alternate way, saving me almost 10 minutes.
After parking in the garage, I pick up my now fully charged S24U from the wireless charging pad in my car and take the elevator up to our office. A quick stop in the lounge to grab some coffee and then I go and choose a desk to work by. We have quite good monitor setups in our office. I chose a desk that has a 34” Superwide monitor. Luckily all our screens have USB-C so I don’t need to use any adapters. I pick up my usual set of wireless keyboard and mouse and pair them with my S24U. After that, I plug in the screen to my phone and DeX launches instantly. Incredibly smooth, but… Something is off with the resolution, everything is stretched to fill my ultra-wide monitor. I open settings, but there is no way of changing resolution.
After fiddling around in settings, I realise it is time for our daily sync with the crew, so I unplug my phone and grab my now lukewarm coffee and go to the meeting room. It’s a video meeting, we often share screens and discuss designs and challenges we have when building our design system so I find myself lacking the bigger screen of my laptop. Then I remember that we can invite the meeting room to the meeting, so after a while I have the call on my phone, and the meeting room’s large TV shows the shared screen. After a successful sync, I head out to get some new, hotter coffee and sit down in our lounge spending some time trying to google how to change screen resolution in DeX. Turns out, you really can’t. DeX is designed to work in a 16:9 aspect ratio.
Screenshot_20240508_125632_Good Lock (1).jpg
After some additional searching, I found out that by installing Samsung's own app called “GoodLock” you can go into “MultiStar”, and there’s an option to enable DeX support for higher resolutions! I did it, and now my monitor doesn't show a stretched UI anymore. I got some letterboxing effect, but now it was at least usable as it didn’t distort the designs I was about to review! Later in the evening I did some more research and it seems as if some user has actually managed to get full 4K and use full screen area, but that was with Galaxy tablets. I tried with two different ultra-wide monitors of different models at the office and it just didn’t work. However, I could still do my normal work now with the letterbox effect so the problem was partially resolved.
Then my challenges started for real, I opened up my browser, and logged into my design tool-account. So far so….good? Or? I was lacking my toolbar inside my design tool - for some reason, it was just gone? And all shortcuts behaved weirdly. Turned out that even if it works in my default browser on my S24U, enabling “desktop mode” in the browser - the same does NOT apply for some reason when you are in DeX mode, it is as if this was another version of my browser altogether. Some quick googling gave me the suggestion to use Samsung's Internet browser instead in DeX, and would you know, it worked. I could now use my design tool as normal. Except… Normal things like zooming in and out, panning and scrolling using my Bluetooth mouse and keyboard shortcut just didn’t work.
Sometimes I was thrown out of the browser into the desktop, other times it was just laggy and behaved weirdly. I then switched to using a wired keyboard and mouse connected to my monitor instead, and that improved it a little, but still the shortcuts were just not working. Not sure what causes this, but I had to do right clicks and select in menus instead of using my normal shortcuts. After those hiccups in the beginning, I could review and comment on the proposed designs, and it was time for lunch.
I unplugged my phone and headed out to get some lunch, and as always paid with Samsung Pay. I rarely use my physical cards; tap to pay is so convenient and I always have my phone with me. After a nice lunch with my colleagues, it was time for the next meeting, another video call. I took it as a “walk and talk”, and my earphones managed to filter out the street sounds fairly well.
After returning to the office, I plugged in my phone again and started working with planning in our issue management system and looking at roadmap drafts in our collaboration tool. This worked really well, and I must say that at no point in this part of my day did I feel that I was actually working on my phone and not my 35k SEK laptop. This is what DeX excels in, browsing and doing work in good web interfaces - my design tool is something different. I would also say that your mileage will vary, but if your tools have a web interface that you can work in smoothly on your laptop, then DeX most likely will work. If it requires separate apps, the outcome can be more varying.
I preferred to use the web version of my email client and messenger rather than the apps, and the same goes for our other systems. For the video meetings I couldn’t use my state of the art monitor's inbuilt camera as DeX didn’t recognize that it existed, which is a little annoying. Instead, it used my S24U selfie camera. In hindsight, I could maybe have used a tripod for my phone to get a better angle for the camera in calls, but it was okay.
I wrapped up and packed down my keyboard and mouse and took the elevator to my car, as I opened the door and sat down my S24U was already connected to Android Auto wirelessly. Smooth as always.
I did get through the workday using only my phone and DeX, but I still don’t get why my main design tool that is web-based was acting so weirdly and shortcuts just didn’t do what they were supposed to.
Would I do it again? Well, now I know it works - but it won’t be my daily driver solution as it was a little too finicky in my main work tool.
The power of the S24U leaves nothing to be desired, but there are some limitations in DeX and how it supports apps that need to be ironed out. Then we have a winner as a laptop replacement. With that said, DeX is already now really powerful, and depending on what you need to do it can already now be an alternative.
Emmi S
Big Cheese
Thanks for sharing your day with DeX and your thoughts! Well written as always! 🙌