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But what is the point of that?

But what is the point of that?

The Google Pixel 8a should soon be able to display content on an external display via the USB-C port. We tried the experience on the Pixel 8 Pro.

It's an old mobile phone fantasy. The possibility of replacing your computer with a smartphone by simply connecting the latter to an external display is still a sweet dream, despite some progress here and there.

The latest is the upcoming possibility of connecting the Pixel 8 or Pixel 8 Pro to the display so that the latter displays the content in mirror form. Soon, the newly announced Pixel 8a should also be able to take advantage of it.

This is what Mashal Rahman, an Android specialist, raises in columnsRobot body. At the moment, Google's mid-range smartphone is unable to do this, but according to our colleague, this should happen in the next update in June 2024. This is supposed to publish the third semi-annual update to Android 14, which is also called Android 14 QPR3.

What's the Pixel 8 Pro's video output currently?

While in beta, we installed this build of Android 14 on a Pixel 8 Pro in the editorial office and were able to turn on Mirror Mode. By connecting the smartphone to the USB-C port connected to the monitor, we saw a window displaying “Copy to external display”.

Once the connection was established, the display was actually able to replicate the content of our Pixel 8 Pro directly and seamlessly.

However, there is good and bad in this experience. Let's start with the positive.

It turns out that to connect the display, we used a USB-C hub to which all our connections also connect. What was our surprise when we saw the keyboard and mouse light up? Without having to dig through any obscure submenu, we were able to navigate our Android smartphone using the mouse and typing text directly. Suffice it to imagine its many uses when traveling, for example.

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On the other hand, if the screen was as smooth as it is on our smartphone screen, two problems immediately stood out to us. Indeed, the brightness of what was displayed was very low, which made the experience not very pleasant. Additionally, full screen mode was not able to display the 16:9 ratio on the external monitor. What makes it even more of a shame is that the iPhone 15 Pro can take advantage of the external display in exactly this way. So there is still a lot of work to be done to make the experience truly enjoyable for users.

What's the benefit compared to Chromecast?

Remember, it was already possible to project a mirror image to your smartphone using a Chromecast, without any wires. But it is important to emphasize that this can only be done at the expense of a certain latency.

Compared to Chromecast, we already see several advantages:

  • No need to install an app like Google Home. Works locally.
  • USB-C is still more widespread than Google's Chromecast technology. This may make it possible, in the near future, to imagine being able to play a slide presentation from any Android smartphone without worrying about compatibility issues;
  • Latency is non-existent, which opens the way for in-game use for example, all with a Bluetooth controller connected;

To complete the experience, all that will be missing is a desktop mode. Specifically, the latter, which until now was intended for developers, could gradually become available to the general public. Android 14 QPR3 beta 2.1 has opened up this possibility, which is a sign that Google is working on it.

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