Windows 10 vs. Samsung DeX vs. iPad OS: The Hybrid Systems Face-Off

If you’ve been paying attention to tech news lately, you’d know that laptops and tablets have been locked in a weird state of flux. Laptops are trying to become tablets and tablets are trying to behave like laptops.
Early on, manufacturers have already been generally great with the hardware. The materials they used on their hybrid devices varied from polycarbonate plastic to space-grade aluminium, to magnesium alloy. These materials result in sleek, beautiful, and most importantly, relatively durable hardware.
The dream of an ultra-versatile computer, however, was held back by poorly designed operating systems.
Windows RT comes to mind as one of the biggest mobile desktop OS failures. It was a touch-centric OS designed for productivity tablets that tried to be a good content consumption device as well. It ended up in a classic case of trying too hard to become two things at once. In effect, Windows RT never became any good in either.
It was only when Windows 10 released that people started noticing it as a viable mobile desktop OS. Albeit, it served more like a desktop OS with the functionalities of a mobile device if you toggle on the tablet mode.
Other companies also had a difficult time creating a versatile mobile desktop OS. Samsung didn’t try until the DeX in 2017. And quite honestly, it hasn’t caught on to the degree that they probably expected yet. Apple, on the other hand, didn’t even have a similar offering until this year in the iPad OS.
But it seems that the collective efforts of all these corporate giants have paid off. These days, Microsoft’s Surface Pro tablets with Windows 10 are quickly becoming one of the most sought-after products in the market. Apple’s iPads with iPad OS, on the other hand, are experiencing a further boost in sales since the new OS released. This is despite it already being the top dog in the tablet market. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S6 with Samsung DeX, lastly, is almost single-handedly reviving the dying premium Android tablet market. This is arguable because they've embraced the ultramobile experience in both hardware and software.
All these operating systems have their strengths and weaknesses. Which OS you’ll prefer to use depends on which strengths you’re after and what weakness you’re willing to live with.

Windows 10

Microsoft’s OS is probably the odd man out in this group. That’s because it’s technically a full desktop OS instead of a tablet OS. But it’s worth mentioning that it’s designed with touch-interface in mind, so it still falls within the category.
As such, good apps come far and few in between.
The few good ones that are left on the app store, however, work exceptionally well. Most apps that work well with it are first-party apps. If you’re heavily invested in Microsoft Office 365, a Windows 10 tablet would leave you satisfied.
Another thing that it’s got going for it is that you can install full versions of apps on it. This means you can have full functionalities of your favourite productivity apps. Both iOS and Android have mobile app versions that are often limited in functionality. For example, Windows 10 is the only system that can download Netflix movies because the dedicated app allows it.

Samsung DeX

Samsung DeX’s mobile OS-first approach makes it a direct opposite in design philosophy to Windows 10. Technically, it’s just an add-on feature that Samsung installed on a limited selection of their Android devices.
It initially launched on the Galaxy S8. It’s automatically activated once you place the phone in a dedicated DeX dock and connect it with an external monitor. From there, you can have a desktop-like experience in navigating your phone.
The leverage of the Android-based DeX setup is that there’s an excellent and up-to-date app selection. Microsoft itself even let users download mobile versions of their apps such as Word and Excel, available to the DeX.
Previous iterations of this Samsung feature were limited to using the DeX on external monitors via a dedicated dock. This makes it a desktop replacement instead of a fully mobile experience. Making DeX available on the Galaxy Tab S6 makes the whole system a decent mobile computer.
The result is a surreal experience of using an Android device that behaves like a desktop. Enabling the feature lets you have mouse and keyboard support that’s eerily like Windows. Features such as drag and drop, multiwindow view, and various others that you only used to be able to enjoy on a desktop will be available for you.
It does have some limitations though. For example, you can’t have two instances of an application open at the same time. And since you only have a mobile version of the application, functionality might also be limited.

iPad OS

As expected, Apple’s take on the mobile-yet-productive operating system is arguably the most refined. It’s got the best of both the tablet and full desktop OS worlds.
For one thing, it’s got a desktop-level internet browsing experience because it now comes with the full version of Safari. There are also other developers who've made full versions of their applications available for iOS. Adobe, for example, has made the fully-featured Photoshop available on the device. This enables you to leave your often-heavy photo editing machine at home if that's all you need to do on the go. The added Pencil support should also make editing more fun and precise on iPads compared to other photo editing alternatives.
Unlike Samsung DeX, you can run several instances of apps running at the same time. You can, for example, run two or more Excel documents for easy referencing. The multitasking features on iPad OS is also on par with the Mac OS now. In a lot of ways, this new operating system has become somewhat of a bridge between traditional iOS and Mac OS from form and function.
It does have its downsides though.
While fans lauded the move by Apple to include mouse support, they instantly became dismayed upon learning that it’s limited as an accessibility feature. It merely mimics touch support instead of natively supporting a Mac OS style pointer. Another thing is that it is, again, is still based on a mobile OS. This means some apps that you’re used to using on desktops and laptops might not have all the features you need for a certain task. Looking for the easy reference management of Microsoft Word? The iPad OS isn’t going to work for you.