Admittedly, I never did anything too intensive. I write my story drafts in Google Docs, and every now and then use Google Sheets. I don't use Microsoft 's suite of Office apps which are optimised for DeX, nor do I do edit videos, photos or audio files. But I often used DeX for several days in a row, with lots of tabs open in my browser and lots of apps running simultaneously, and can't recall any hardware performance issues.
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Outside of that small timeframe, the performance difference isn't noticeable. Although there was plenty I liked about using my phone as a desktop, problems came up immediately. A lot of it is figuring out which apps work with DeX and which don't. Spotify's app, for instance, doesn't work well on DeX. You can easily search and play specific playlists and albums, but go to an artist's page and you'll be stuck on their promo picture, unable to scroll down to their song and album selection.
That's OK, though, because Spotify's web player works fine on a browser. Other apps, such as Kindle, don't work at all. In general, a lot of the problems are forgivable -- circumventing them takes simple trial and error. You learn pretty quickly which apps work and which functions are better performed with Samsung's browser.
But the browser is where I found my major problem. It was highly temperamental with CNET's content management system, where we write and publish our stories. The very first time I tried writing a story with DeX, everything was going fine until I added an image. The CMS page crashed and refreshed as a blank slate.
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I hadn't saved. It was a bad day. Once I started typing, it became frazzled over which app was active. I'd type a word or two and the Browser app would go inactive, barring me from typing more and forcing me to to click inside the app to refocus DeX on it. I had to restart the system to fix this glitch. I've since been able to write full stories on DeX, so the problem is inconsistency rather than flat-out incompatibility. As I mentioned above, I used DeX on and off for over three weeks.
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I switched back to my MacBook when I had to write a story quickly, or when I was working with a lot of images. DeX's major problem is that it comes admirably close at being a desktop replacement but, since we're talking about your major productivity machine, close isn't good enough. If your actual computer is more reliable, then you'd only ever be using DeX for novelty's sake.
In fairness, it's difficult for companies to optimize their internal tools, like CNET's CMS, to different types of browsers and other software. But if you have an office job, you probably have some kind of similar internal tool, and that tool is probably important to your job.
Outside of the major issue of reliability, there were small bugs which made DeX feel sloppy at times. Since you're using a mobile browser, certain sites, like CNET, were accessible only in their mobile form. And, like on your phone, there can only be one source of audio at a time. This is great sometimes, since you're never searching for the tab from where a sound is coming from, but it also results in Spotify being cut off when a video autoplays on a website you're browsing. If it runs Android 9, don't despair. Plenty of apps have their own dark-mode option in the settings that you can use whether or not you have Android I suggest using dark mode all the time, but if you're not sure, you can always set dark mode to automatically turn on based on a schedule, say from 7 p.
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Planning to hit up the Google Play Store for a bunch of new Android apps? Be prepared for a lot of icon clutter on your home screen, which is where shortcuts land every time you install something. Thankfully, there's a simple way out of this: Long-press on an empty area of your home screen and tap Home settings. Find the option labeled something along the lines of "Add icon to Home Screen" and turn it off.
No more icons when you install new apps. You can still add shortcuts by dragging an app's icon out of the app drawer, but they won't clutter up your home screen unless you want them to. If your phone routinely spends the night on your nightstand, you probably don't want it beeping or buzzing every time there's a call, message or Facebook alert -- especially when you're trying to sleep.
Thankfully, Android offers a Do Not Disturb mode that will keep the phone more or less silent during designated hours. On some phones, this is referred to as the Downtime setting or even quiet time. Using the feature, you can set up a range of hours usually nighttime when you want to turn off the digital noise. But don't worry, any notifications you get while DND is turned on will still be waiting for you when you wake up. Also, you can typically make an exception that allows repeat callers and favorite contacts' calls to go through. Turn that on.
If someone is calling you in an emergency, odds are they are going to keep trying. What someone who finds a lost or stolen Android phone will see after you use Find My Device to lock it. Is there anything worse than a lost or stolen phone? Only the knowledge that you could have tracked it down if you had turned on Google's Find My Device feature. To set yourself up for a successful recovery, here's what you need to do: Open the Settings app and then search for Find My Device.
It's usually in the Security section of the Settings app. Once enabled, you can head to android.
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Samsung users can visit findmymobile. If you run into any trouble setting any of this up, be sure to read through our complete guide to finding a lost Android phone. Assuming your phone is on and online, you should be able to see its location on a map. From there you can make it ring, lock it, set a lock screen note to tell whoever has it how to get it back to you, or, worst-case scenario, remotely wipe the whole thing.
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There's a lot more to learn about a new phone, of course. If you have a new Google Pixel 4, try these hidden features. Or if you're into bigger phones, the Note 10 is nice and full of fun features.