Android phones have long been able easily to connect to external screens, but in most cases, this simply presents a blow-up version of the Android user interface.
With their Samsung Dex dock for their most recent flagship devices, Samsung has tried to change this, by offering a proper desktop interface when connected to a large screen, but the Dex dock is bulky, expensive and proprietary.
Now the upcoming Huawei Mate 10 is rumoured to go one step better, by offering a desktop user interface to access Android apps, even when connected to big screens wirelessly via Miracast.
The rumour originates from French site FrAndroid, who notes that this would also make the device compatible with a number of Miracast-powered laptop shells such as the Miraxess Mirabook.
The news has also been verified by MirAxess CEO Yanis Anteur who told Gearburn that Huawei’s new devices will tout PC-style functionality.
“For now on we recommend to use the Mirabook with the Galaxy S8 for DeX and Windows Phones for Continuum. I also have a secret news for you (sic), the new Huawei smartphones announced on 16 October will have a DeX like feature and should be compatible with the Mirabook.”
Huawei will also have its own proprietary dock, like the Dex, which would output via Displayport, but I suspect as an extra accessory few will buy this will not be really impactful. Miracast is however very well supported by smart TVs, meaning most Mate 10 owners will not have to look very far to access a compatible big screen.
Huawei is currently the second largest phone OEM after Samsung and ahead of Apple, according to Counterpoint Research, meaning their solution will have somewhat wide penetrance, and ultimately pose a threat to PCs in an increasingly mobile-first and mobile-only world. Microsoft itself offers several productivity apps on Android which supports larger screens well, and Android applications are increasingly responsive to the wide range of screen sizes being used by Android OEMs.
The main weakness of the initiative is that it has been up to each OEM to implement a desktop solution for their phones, leading to fragmentation of availability and experience, with Google seemingly blinded to the desirability of the feature by their Chromebook push. It is likely however with enough demand by OEMs Google will inevitably adopt a solution from one of their popular OEMs, much like it adopted several features of Samsung’s split screen multi-tasking some years after Samsung started offering it.
Huawei will announce the Mate 10 on the October 16th. It is rumoured to feature a bezel-less, 6-inch, 2:1 aspect ratio display with a 2,160 x 1,080 resolution, a dual-lens front-facing camera with 3D face scanning skills, a fingerprint scanner and 8.4mm thickness and retail for about $599.