Would you replace your laptop with a smartphone? We tried with the Galaxy S24 Ultra

Our colleagues at CNET.com used the Galaxy S24 Ultra with Samsung DeX to replace a laptop for a day. Here are their impressions.

Smartphones are getting more expensive. Apple's high-end iPhone 15 Pro Max starts at €1,479, while Samsung's flagship Galaxy S24 Ultra will cost €1,469.

As the cost of these phones increases, it becomes difficult to rationalize their purchase, especially when there are more affordable options that give these high-end gadgets a run for their money. But what if your high-end smartphone could also double as a computer?

With Samsung DeX, you can turn your Galaxy phone or tablet into a PC by simply connecting it to a monitor. You can also wirelessly connect Galaxy phones or tablets to certain TVs to use DeX.

To discover and test this tool, we ditched our MacBook for a day to see if the Galaxy S24 Ultra and Samsung DeX could replace it.

DeX makes perfect sense.

Photo credit: Celso Bolgati/CNET

First note, it's much more pleasant to carry just the S24 Ultra (about 250 grams) instead of the MacBook Pro that weighs about 2.5 kg to go to the office. We also liked that we could simply connect the S24 Ultra to our Dell monitor in the office and use Apple's wireless keyboard and mouse directly. This transparency is one of Samsung DeX's strengths.

During the work we noticed a lot of details that amazed us. For example, when connecting the S24 Ultra to a monitor, a window of four panels appears on the phone. This is a touchpad that allows you to move the cursor on the screen. So, if you don't have a mouse, no problem, you can just use the phone itself.

Photo credit: Celso Bolgati/CNET

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Another interesting detail is that you can still use the phone independently even if it works as a computer in DeX mode.

The more we use DeX, the more its importance becomes clear to us. For example, we always attend meetings using your laptop to take notes and review current projects. During testing, we only brought along the S24 Ultra, which had the same information as the “computer” we'd been typing on a few minutes earlier using DeX. We were able to easily take notes and then connect the S24 Ultra back to the display to continue working on those projects after the meeting. Going from DeX mode to the phone and back to DeX mode is seamless. This is amazing.

Photo credit: Celso Bolgati/CNET

But how well can DeX handle all the daily tasks? We worked with Google Chrome and in Google Docs and used Zoom and Slack to communicate with our interlocutors.

Using these apps in DeX mode is just like using them on our MacBook. However, we encountered some issues worth mentioning if you're thinking about trying DeX.

Direct implementationDirect implementation

Image source: Celso Bolgatti/CNET

Say goodbye to the bookmarks bar in Chrome

The bookmarks bar in Google Chrome is not available on DeX. There is one in the Samsung Internet app.

Copying links is also different in Chrome on DeX. You can't click a link to highlight it in the address bar, then copy and paste it like you do in Chrome on a laptop. If you try to click on a link in DeX mode, it disappears. Instead, you need to click on the link and then click on the small icon to the right of it to copy it to the clipboard.

Photo credit: Celso Bolgati/CNET

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Zoom and Slack are also a little different.

When we first tried Zoom on DeX, the video was displayed in portrait orientation instead of landscape, even though the S24 Ultra was placed horizontally on a desk. But we turned the phone vertically, then horizontally again, and eventually the video switched to landscape. We took several Zoom calls and the S24 Ultra was placed very low on the desk, so we never looked at the people we were talking to.

It may be a good idea to use a stand to raise the phone so that the camera is closer to the eye. Also, when we send a message in chat, it takes up the entire screen, which is a bit annoying.

Image source: Jessica Fierro/CNET

Slack on DeX is very similar to the desktop version, though it lacks the sidebar that houses all recent messages, which we missed. Admittedly, these are very minor quirks. None of them caused major disruption to our workflow. DeX worked fine running the apps we used 90% of the time.

We also used two other apps available with DeX: Adobe Premiere Rush and Photoshop Express.

Premiere Rush and Photoshop Express on DeX have a lot of potential

Premiere Rush is a more accessible version of Premiere Pro. The interface is much simpler, you can use it on your computer and mobile, and it's free.

In DeX, we were easily able to cut in the middle of a video and trim clips. We were even able to color correct our shots. But the app suddenly closes every 30 seconds.

Direct implementationDirect implementation

Image source: Jessica Fierro/CNET

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The Photoshop Express experience proved less conclusive. We were able to add text to the photo but couldn't put photos side by side or customize frames. But even though we couldn't use this app as we normally would, we had a lot of fun with what it could do.

Samsung or Adobe must agree to make Photoshop and Premiere Pro available on DeX. This would take these already great products to the next level.

Photo credit: Clara Dingle/CNET

Can DeX replace your laptop?

Can the S24 Ultra, and more specifically Samsung DeX, replace your laptop? 90% of the time, yes. But not yet when doing photo and video editing. But we're actually impressed that DeX can handle most of our work.

We realize that spending a day with DeX only scratches the surface. There are certainly still pros and cons to discover in use.

Frank Mccarthy

<p class="sign">"Certified gamer. Problem solver. Internet enthusiast. Twitter scholar. Infuriatingly humble alcohol geek. Tv guru."</p>

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