The Google Pixel 8 just got a new feature that brings it closer to the S24's DeX mode

Google Pixel 8 review front straight
The Google Pixel 8 (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

You might imagine that if you plugged your Google Pixel 8 or Pixel 8 Pro into an external screen via USB-C it would mirror the phone’s display, but in fact until recently nothing would happen at all. Now though, if you have the latest Android beta, screen mirroring over USB-C is possible.

This was spotted by Android Authority, which notes that this feature has always been possible at a hardware level, but that for some reason Google previously blocked it on a software level, perhaps so that Pixel 8 owners would instead make use of Google’s wireless Cast feature to mirror the screen.

In any case though, if you download Android 14 QPR3 Beta 2, you can now mirror your screen over USB-C.

No match for DeX – at least not yet

This is still a step behind what Samsung allows on the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S24, with the company’s DeX mode offering a desktop-like experience on external displays. But you can in fact enable a basic desktop environment on the Pixel 8 by selecting ‘force desktop mode’ in Android’s developer options.

Do this, and rather than mirroring your phone’s screen, the external display will show an interface designed more for large screens, albeit a very basic interface designed for use by developers rather than end users.

However, the site reports that Google has long been working on improvements for this desktop-mode, and Android Authority theorizes that enabling display mirroring in this beta could be a step towards launching a polished, DeX-like desktop mode to users as part of Android 15.

That timing is just speculation though, and it’s even possible that enabling display output over USB-C in this beta was a mistake – one which may be remedied in the next update.

So we can’t be sure of anything yet. But hopefully this feature is here to stay, and perhaps it’s also a sign of bigger, better, Samsung-rivaling features to come.

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James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to, and and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.