How to turn an Android smartphone into a desktop PC
Smartphones are more capable than ever before, and are evolving into a single device which can be used for almost all tasks. Some activities are still easier to complete using a desktop, though, due to the larger screen size and stand-alone peripherals. Samsung recently unveiled its DeX docking station, which allows Galaxy S8 owners to turn their device into a desktop by connecting it to a Dex unit, a monitor, and peripherals.
However, if you have an Android smartphone and wireless hardware, you can create a similar set-up. Below are instructions on how to connect your smartphone to a desktop display and peripherals using a free app from the Google Play Store.
Firstly, you’ll need a monitor for your smartphone-powered desktop interface. You will project your smartphone screen to this display, so it is recommended that you connect a Chromecast to your screen to cast your device’s display over your home network.
By casting your screen to the display this way, you will still be able to use your device’s microUSB or USB-C slot to charge it when running. A Bluetooth mouse and keyboard combination is the obvious choice for using with a smartphone, and can easily connect to Android devices. You can connect USB input devices to your smartphone using an OTG cable, but this will occupy the charging slot.
The easiest way to set up a smartphone desktop interface is to use the free Sentio app from the Google Play Store. Using an application means you don’t have to root the device and it makes it easy to switch between desktop and mobile configurations. Previously titled Andromium OS, Sentio provides Android devices with a clean, intuitive desktop interface which supports a library of apps.
While Sentio does not list specific hardware requirements, the previous version of the app required the following hardware:
- Android 5.0 or newer
- Snapdragon 800 or better
- 2GB RAM
You will need to download both the primary application and the separate Sentio App collection to make full use of the software. The application is in beta and does feature some bugs, but it is being improved by the developers. After installing both Sentio apps and starting the program, you will be prompted to set app permissions and change startup settings.
After casting your device display to your screen, connecting a mouse and keyboard, and starting Sentio, you are now ready to navigate a desktop interface with support for numerous applications – from Minesweeper to Netflix.