Samsung’s Dex Pad, which helps turn your Galaxy S9 into a desktop, arrives May 13

galaxy s9 hands-on review dex monitor
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus weren’t the only new products Samsung announced at Mobile World Congress — there’s also a new accessory called the Dex Pad, a follow up to last year’s Dex Station. Like the Galaxy S9, the Dex Pad fixes a lot of problems with its predecessor, and it’ll be available for purchase starting May 13.

Price and release date

Samsung has surprised us a little with the pricing for the Dex Pad. We assumed the accessory would cost the same as last year’s $150 Dex Station, but the Dex Pad will launch at the cool price of $100. While there’s no mention of early shipments for pre-orders, anyone buying a new Galaxy S9 or S9 Plus from Samsung will also be able to get a free Dex Pad with their purchase for a limited amount of time in April. As always, we’ve updated our S9 and S9 Plus buying guide with the details so you can be sure to get the best deal.

What does the Dex Pad do?

If you’re not sure what the fuss is, the Dex Pad and older Dex Station are docks that connect to a computer monitor through an HDMI cable. Plug your Galaxy S9 into the dock, and you’ll see a desktop version of Android launch on the monitor. You can connect a mouse and keyboard and work from this mode just as you would a normal PC, along with access to your Android apps. The platform requires certain optimizations from third-party app developers, which is why unsupported apps will look like the phone app instead of a more space-utilizing desktop app.

One of the key problems with the Dex Station is there’s no way to use the 3.5mm headphone jack on the phone to listen to audio, since access to the port is blocked when you plug your Galaxy phone into the dock. Samsung has solved the problem with the Dex Pad — the design is a flat pad with space on the bottom for a headphone jack.

While it’s a nice improvement, the biggest addition thanks to the Dex Pad’s design is the ability to use the Galaxy S9’s screen as a mouse. That simple change eliminates the need to have a mouse on hand, and a future software update will also allow you to use the Galaxy S9 as a keyboard, further eliminating the need for another accessory. Once that update lands, you’ll only need a monitor to get work done with the Dex Pad.

On the top edge of the Dex Pad, there’s an HDMI port to plug into your monitor, and a Type-C port that charges your phone. There are also two USB Type-A ports for plugging in other peripherals, but you can also connect other devices to your Galaxy S9 via Bluetooth. The Dex Pad itself comes with a HDMI cable, a USB-C cable, and a wall charger for the dock, giving you everything you need to get started (as long as you have a spare monitor).

Other limitations with the DeX Station included a limited 1080p resolution for the external monitor, but the Dex Pad can go up to 2560 x 1440 pixels, offering far more screen real estate for larger monitors with higher resolutions.

Supported devices and services

The new accessory is built to work best with the Galaxy S9, but will work with the Galaxy Note 8, the Galaxy S8, S8 Plus, and S8 Active — provided that those devices have received the Android 8.0 Oreo update. There are also Dex Pad-optimized apps, as well as games that support keyboard and mouse play. For example, you can now use a keyboard and mouse to play Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition with the Dex Pad.

Samsung is also working with businesses to use the Dex Pad, supported with its Knox security platform, to add more customization to the Dex Pad. For example, instead of launching the Dex Pad Samsung logo when the phone boots in desktop mode, companies can now display their own logo instead to tailor the experience. Samsung said it’s working with a major bank to offer Dex Pads to all its employees in an attempt to improve workflow. When looking up information on a phone with customers, clerks can easily switch to the monitor to provide a better viewing experience.

Updated on April 9: The Dex Pad will release May 13, and cost $100.