Samsung's brand new Galaxy S8 is a very powerful smartphone. It's powerful enough that Samsung thinks it can replace your PC — especially if you don't have incredibly demanding tasks to run. With Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop/Lightroom support, the Galaxy S8 and DeX could be the ultimate solution for any corporate road warriors out there.
When you plug the Galaxy S8 into the USB Type-C docking cradle in the top of the DeX Station, the phone switches from its mobile mode to outputting a custom-made Android desktop OS environment, with icons to launch all compatible apps and a taskbar at the bottom of the screen for switching between them.
The DeX Station has a USB Type-C port for power, HDMI video and audio output and a pair of USB 2.0 ports for keyboard/mouse or mass storage, as well as a wired Ethernet port for hooking up to a hardline in a hotel room or corporate office space. You can also use any Bluetooth keyboard, mouse or other peripheral supported by Android to navigate the on-screen interface.
The DeX Station also supports the Galaxy S8's basic mobile functions. You'll see notifications pop up in the lower right corner of your screen a la Windows 10, and you can make or receive calls using the speakerphone while still docked. If you need to take a call privately, you can undock the phone and continue your conversation while the S8 switches back to mobile mode in the background.
Desktop PC faithful will be pleased to know that the DeX and Galaxy S8 also supports a range of virtual desktop apps from Citrix, VMWare and Amazon Web Services, so you can virtualise a Windows machine and run any x86 native apps that your organisation supports. The Android versions of Adobe's PhotoShop, Acrobat and Lightroom apps, as well as Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint have been redesigned to suit the keyboard and mouse-driven desktop environment when using DeX.
The only real complaint I have about DeX this early on is the fact that Google's Chrome browser is nowhere to be seen. It's only the Samsung-default Internet browser that supports DeX out of the box, and as a Google native I'm loath to use anything that doesn't have all my logins and history saved.
Running all those apps at up to 4K resolution is going to push the Galaxy S8's processor and 4G modem to its limits, which is why it's good that the oversized hockey puck also includes a cooling fan. The $199 Samsung DeX Station for the Galaxy S8 will launch alongside the new phone itself on April 28 in Australia.
Less than 24 hours from now, Samsung will reveal the Galaxy S8 to the world at its Unpacked event in New York. We'll be live blogging from the event, but you should also watch along with the live stream — so here's where to find it.