How to turn your phone into a PC: 6 methods you can try

How to turn your phone into a PC: 6 methods you can try

You left your laptop at work and have an urgent report that needs to be completed and emailed to your boss. It’s the first night of your vacation. What should you do?

Well, if your documents are stored in the cloud, you could complete the report using your smartphone. But forget to touch that little screen – you can plug in a keyboard and mouse. Plug it into your hotel room TV, complete the report, email it and enjoy the rest of your vacation.

It’s that easy – with the right device. Here’s how to turn your phone into a laptop.

Why use your phone as a computer?

Having a laptop in your pocket at all times – just in case – makes sense. Unfortunately, the pockets aren’t big enough for even the most compact ultrabooks. Smartphones, on the other hand, fit easily into a pocket.

This means you can use a smartphone as a desktop, a replacement PC to use in an emergency. The limitations of the small screen are no longer an issue, thanks to wireless HDMI.

The real magic of this context-sensitive dynamic, however, is in the presentation of a desktop user interface (user interface). Once viewed on a compatible TV, you will not see the phone’s current UI. Instead, a traditional and familiar desktop is presented.

How to convert your cell phone into a computer

We mainly looked at solutions that require a desktop user interface (except for Android). And iOS stands out for its absence. But it’s fair to say you don’t really need it. After all, your phone already has an operating system and probably already supports a mouse.

To turn your phone into a PC, you need:

  • Bluetooth keyboard and mouse
  • Alternatively, a USB keyboard and mouse and a USB-OTG cable
  • A display that supports wireless HDMI or screen mirroring

Alternatively, you can use a dock with support for HDMI, USB, and even Ethernet. A good option is the pluggable USB C Mini Laptop Docking Station, which is especially useful for Samsung DeX. Check out our Attachable USB C Dock review for more information.

1. Samsung devices boast DeX desktop mode

Perhaps the best of all options for turning a phone into a computer is offered to Samsung owners. With a Samsung Galaxy S8 / S8 +, Note 8 or later (from 2020), you can choose DeX. Activated from the notification bar, DeX is essentially a desktop environment for Android.

Simply plug your phone into a nearby HDMI compatible display, plug in your input devices, and you’re ready to go. DeX gives you access to all the usual Android productivity apps, in windowed mode.

Samsung DeX is the best way to turn your phone into a computer. If you have a suitable device, now is the time to check it out.

2. Use your smartphone as a Linux PC with Ubuntu Touch

Ubuntu Touch is a Linux-based operating system for smartphones. Managed by UBports team Ubuntu Touch works on various devices.

Officially, Ubuntu Touch works (and is supported) on:

  • Volla phone
  • Fairphone 2
  • LG Nexus 5 (2013)
  • One plus one

However, many others phones can run Ubuntu Touch .

A key feature of Ubuntu Touch is the Convergence system. Like Samsung DeX, this is a desktop environment, activated when the phone is connected to an external display.

When the phone is connected via wireless HDMI to a TV, the UI is a full Ubuntu desktop. The operating system is pre-installed with various tools, including LibreOffice. Having a mobile phone that can be used as a desktop in no time is excellent for productivity!

3. Turn your Android phone into a desktop computer with the Maru operating system

In 2016, Android overtook Windows as the world’s most used consumer operating system. It makes sense, therefore, to explore its potential as a desktop operating system.

Maru OS is a fork of Android that currently only works on some models. So if you can get hold of the Nexus 5 (2013) or the Nexus 5X (2015), you should get good results. Pre-release builds are available for Nexus 6P and Google Pixel phones. This is a full operating system that needs to be installed instead of or alongside Android.

Check out our guide to installing Maru OS on Android to use your phone as a pocket PC.

4. Do you just want an Android desktop launcher?

If you want to use your phone as a computer, don’t have a Samsung, and don’t want to install a new operating system, you still have options.

One is Leena Desktop UI, essentially a desktop themed launcher app for Android. With a macOS-like dock, Leena features a native file manager, browser, video player, PDF viewer, and more.

It also supports docking, screen mirroring or “casting” connections and allows you to use Android apps in desktop windows.

Download: Leena desktop user interface ($ 2.49)

5. How to use Android phone as desktop with Chromecast

If everything seems a little complicated, expensive, or a combination of the two, then consider the easy option. Do you need access to your Android phone’s word processor in an emergency? Well, you can quickly use an Android phone as a PC if you have:

  • A USB-C or Bluetooth keyboard and mouse
  • A Chromecast or (another mirroring solution) connected to the TV

Simply upload the document that requires attention, connect a keyboard and share your display on Chromecast. If you are planning this solution as a solution, you should check out our guide to turning a standard smartphone into a PC

6. Convert an old Windows phone to a cheap PC

If you’ve heard of Windows 10 Mobile or Windows Phone, you probably know it’s dead. Older phones can be picked up for under $ 70 on eBay. While largely useless in terms of apps, some models have good cameras.

But hidden in these cheap old smartphones, however, is a secret mode: a Windows desktop. Three phones were released with Continuum:

  • HP Elite 3
  • Lumia 950
  • Lumia 950 XL

Thanks to an early version of Continuum technology (which currently handles switching between desktop and tablet modes on hybrid Windows laptops), you can connect your phone to a display and see a Windows desktop environment.

You can access apps installed on it, such as Microsoft Office, and use your phone for calls while connected. A Bluetooth keyboard and mouse can be connected, but the mobile keyboard can also be used. The display can also be used as a laptop-style touchpad.

Note: Windows 10 Mobile and Windows Phone are no longer maintained or updated. Therefore, using this method could expose you to online attacks or vulnerabilities in the operating system and software.

Why don’t you use your smartphone as a PC?

You have seven ways to turn your phone into a PC. So why do so few people use their devices this way. Are the complexities of wireless HDMI? Or the lack of a physical keyboard?

Either way, there’s a good chance you have a suitable device. Meanwhile, companies with shrinking IT budgets are deeply interested in the handheld desktop form factor. If you’re not using a desktop compatible smartphone device now, you may soon be.

Although smartphones are versatile productivity devices in desktop mode, they don’t fulfill all purposes. Do you need something more powerful and just as portable? Consider a lightweight laptop instead.

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