It’s been a decade since Google released a phone that supported video output over a USB cable. But there’s a chance the company’s next phone could bring back the feature.

In an article for Android Authority, Kamila Wojciechowska notes that there are clues that the upcoming Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro could support USB DisplayPort alternate mode, which would let you plug a cable to the USB ports on the phones in order to connect an external display.

Alleged Pixel 8 Pro images (via @OnLeaks and SmartPrix)

DisplayPort Alt Mode basically lets you send a DisplayPort signal over a USB Type-C connection. Not all phones, tablets, laptops, and other devices with USB-C ports support this feature, but those that do will let you plug a cable into the USB port on your device and then connect the other end to a monitor or TV (you’ll either need a display that accepts USB-C input, or a cable or USB-C dock with HDMI or DisplayPort connectors).

Other companies have supported this feature for a while, and have even developed software that makes it easy to use your phone like a desktop computer or a mobile media center when connected to a larger screen. Samsung has its DeX software, for example, and Motorola has ReadyFor.

But the last Google phone with support for video output over a USB connection was the Google Nexus 5. There have been some indications that the company has been disabling DisplayPort Alt Mode in software recently, even when the company is building phones with hardware to support the feature. And that suggests that disabling video output is a conscious choice on Google’s part – which makes sense from a company that has long insisted that Android is a mobile operating system and users who want a desktop OS should buy a Chromebook or Chromebox.

But those lines have been getting blurry in recent years, with Google adding better support for tablets and dual-screen devices like the Pixel Tablet and Pixel Fold. Now there’s better support for multitasking including a user interface optimized for larger displays that includes a taskbar and multi-window support.

So maybe the company thinks the time is right to officially support plugging your Android phone into a bigger screen for times when you want to use it like a desktop (or media center, or presentation device, or game system, or whatever else you’d want to use Android on a big screen for).

Anyway, most of Wojciechowska’s article discusses what DisplayPort Alt Mode is and why you might want it, but the tidbit of news is that “a source inside Google” says the feature will be supported by Google’s next-gen smartphones.

And that’s about all we know so far. So I’d take it with a grain of salt. Even if it’s true, there’s a chance that plans could change by the time the Pixel 8 is released. But it would certainly be nice to see… and probably appreciated not only by Android users,  but also by those who make a habit of replacing Google’s operating system with custom Android ROMs or mobile Linux distributions.

Support Liliputing

Liliputing's primary sources of revenue are advertising and affiliate links (if you click the "Shop" button at the top of the page and buy something on Amazon, for example, we'll get a small commission).

But there are several ways you can support the site directly even if you're using an ad blocker* and hate online shopping.

Contribute to our Patreon campaign


Contribute via PayPal

* If you are using an ad blocker like uBlock Origin and seeing a pop-up message at the bottom of the screen, we have a guide that may help you disable it.

Subscribe to Liliputing via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 9,446 other subscribers

Join the Conversation


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. I’ll waiting for this info a long time.. so that could be great news if manufacturer use DP in 2.1 version 🙂 If it will be in 1.4v then go to hell fckers

  2. Yeah, I think this would be a great feature to have in more Android phones. In particular, it would be good to see it trickle down into more mid-range phones: Samsung Dex and Motorola Readyfor are both pretty useful, but only implemented in pretty high-end phones. I was excited a few years back when there was a baked in “Desktop mode” hidden in Android, but it never went anywhere.

    Having a capability to dock a phone into a monitor or laptop dock is pretty useful. With Android being expanded once again with better big screen support for tablets and folding phones, this is another way to leverage and expand support for big-screen android devices.

    1. Samsung only offers DeX in their highest tier phones, but Ready For is easily available in “upper-midrange” as well. And Motorola phones often get much cheaper over time, unlike Samsung. I got my Moto G100 bundeled with Ready For Dock (which is pretty terrible, as it doesn’t offer any additional ports) for around 1500PLN (300$, taxes included) early last year. So, not ultra cheap, but still several times cheaper than a flagship Samsung phone.

      But yeah, I agree that pretty much all modern smartphones should have a mode like that. They are limited by SoC capabilities though, as most cheaper options simply don’t support USB DP alt mode.

      They also need good SW for desktop mode (and few google apps that maybe will get better are just the tip of the iceberg), but this is a whole other topic.

        1. Honestly, despite all its flaws, I could use Ready For as my daily PC for basic tasks and browsing (not to confuse with work PC). Hell, I’d love to, as it is silent and power efficient. But it runs on battery. So it kills the battery in a device that doesn’t even allow for an easy replacement. Which is stupid. How come laptops can run from the plug, but phones won’t, despite offering desktop modes?

          I love the idea, but all those years after Motorla Atrix, after failure of Microsoft Continuum and years of DeX, it still has flaws as basic as this.

          1. The official Ready For Dock was really dumb, largely because it didn’t have a power input.

            I use an Anker USB-C hub that has power in, HDMI out, a couple of extra USB ports, etc. so my phone can stay charged while outputting a video signal. I can also connect a USB keyboard and mouse and really treat it like a desktop PC.

            The one feature I’d really like to have for long-term desktop use is a battery bypass mode where it stops charging the battery at e.g. 80% and just draws power from the wall.

  3. I don’t know how useful it would be to connect a phone directly to a TV or monitor. Connecting to a dock that has ports for a tv/monitor, keyboard, mouse, and power input would be something more interesting.

    1. Monitors that combine USB-C input and a USB hub (for your peripherals) exist, even if for some reason, that’s still not the norm. But you still need displayport out over USB-C to make use of those kinds of docks/dongles anyway.
      How useful it is depends on how well the desktop mode is implemented and your ability to run desktop applications on your particular phone.

    2. I’ve always thought that having a single device that connects to external monitors etc “should” be the ultimate aim. This is a move towards that I guess but yeah depends on how it’s supported. Wouldn’t mind having it as a feature put it that way!

    3. Sometimes it can be useful, especially for quick one-off things.

      Imagine you used a phone to create a few drawings or got some nice photos or videos of a family event or something funny at a local sport. If you just want to show that to a few friends or family but not go through the trouble of emailing, it’s nice to have a quick-and-easy HDMI option.

      Frankly I was disappointed when I realized my Pixel 6a couldn’t do USB to HDMI. I had HTC phones a decade ago that could right out of the box, and it wasn’t advertised as a major feature or anything. THX even made a display calibration tool that worked with some of my old phones over an OTG to HDMI connection.

      It would be a nice feature to have on modern phones… Can’t imagine it costs that much more for the DP/Thunderbolt connector component than a basic fast charge USB-C.

      1. One area that I’d like explored; this is for both Macs and Android Flagships, is having USB 4 for eGPU solutions.

        Imagine having to put your phone on a large dock, but that houses a dGPU, and it is connected to your display.

        Even if “useless” now, I can see putting the groundwork for that technology will pay huge dividends in the future. For Mac’s, I believe they are purposely hobbled from using that feature, to cause buyers to upsell to more expensive machines (which have wider profit margins).