Google Enables Display Output on Pixel 8 Series with Latest Beta

What you should know


  • Google has enabled the ability to mirror the phone screen to an external display using a USB-C cable in the latest Android 14 QPR3 Beta 2 for Pixel 8 series, marking a significant shift from previous Pixel models.
  • The Pixel 8 and 8 Pro now support DisplayPort Alternate Mode by default, allowing for a “mirror display” option upon connecting a compatible USB-C cable or adapter, a feature previously disabled on a hardware level in older Pixel devices.
  • Despite the new screen mirroring capability, Pixel phones do not offer a robust desktop-like experience on external displays similar to Samsung‘s DeX; however, Android has a basic desktop mode since version 10 that can be enabled in developer options.
  • There is speculation that Google is working on a more polished user-facing version of desktop mode for Android 15, suggesting that the current enablement of screen mirroring may hint at Google’s desktop ambitions despite the lack of official announcements.


Full Story

Well, well, well. It seems like Google Pixel’s got a trick up its sleeve with the latest Android 14 QPR3 Beta 2. Who would’ve thunk it? Suddenly, you can mirror your phone screen to an external display with just a USB-C cable. And it’s all happening on the Pixel 8 series.

Now, according to the folks over at Android Authority (hat tip to Mishaal Rahman), Google’s done a complete 180. They’ve gone and enabled the DisplayPort Alternate Mode by default on both the Pixel 8 and the 8 Pro. What does this mean for us? Simply put, there’s now a “mirror display” option popping up the moment you plug in a compatible USB-C cable or adapter. Neat, huh?

Historically, Pixel phones were kinda left in the dust with this feature. The whole DisplayPort Alternate Mode shebang uses the USB-C port to send video signals. Super handy for laptops and mobile devices, right? But, for some odd reason, Pixel devices before the 8 series had this functionality disabled at the hardware level. Wanted to use it? Tough cookies, unless you had a special DisplayLink adapter.

But here’s where it gets interesting. With the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, Google sneakily added this capability back into the hardware. Still, they didn’t give us a native software option to use it. Well, unless you were brave enough to enable it with root access… until now, that is. With the release of Android 14 QPR3 Beta 2, your phone now chirps up with a prompt asking if you wanna mirror the display the moment you connect a compatible USB-C cable.

But, of course, there’s a catch. Using the feature in its simplest form just mirrors your phone’s screen as is. And unlike Samsung phones, Pixels don’t offer that fancy desktop-like experience on external displays, like DeX. Irony of ironies, Android has had a basic desktop mode since version 10. But it’s more of a developer tool than anything else. Though, you can force it by diving into the developer options and enabling “force desktop mode.”

Rumor has it, Google’s been tinkering away on a more polished, user-friendly version of desktop mode. Many believe it might make its grand entrance with Android 15, but that’s all hush-hush for now. This upgrade is supposed to handle freeform windows better, making for a more flexible desktop experience.

Now, because Google didn’t shout about this feature from the rooftops in the QPR3 Beta 2 changelog, we’re left scratching our heads. Was this display output enabling a deliberate move, or will future updates put the kibosh on it? There’s chatter that Google’s been holding back this feature from Pixel phones due to the lack of a mature desktop mode. Makes you wonder why they’d flip the switch now, especially before unveiling their revamped desktop mode.

Regardless of whether it was intentional or a happy accident, the Pixel 8’s new screen mirroring feature is a tantalizing hint at Google’s desktop dreams. The company’s keeping mum, leaving us to play the guessing game. But one thing’s for sure: stock Android is inching ever closer to the desktop-like flexibility that rivals like Samsung DeX have been flaunting.

Derrick Flynn
Derrick Flynn
With over four years of experience in tech journalism, Derrick has honed his skills and knowledge to become a vital part of the PhonesInsights team. His intuitive reviews and insightful commentary on the latest smartphones and wearable technology consistently provide our readers with valuable information.


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