Can a phone replace your PC? Motorola’s ‘Ready For’ says yes

Motorola Ready For
SponsoredMotorola

Motorola has an exciting new technology called ‘Ready For’, which is built into its latest Edge 20 series mobile phones. It essentially allows your phone to become a ‘PC’ by delivering an Android desktop to an external screen. So can you rely on your phone as your sole PC? To find out, we needed to poke, prod and learn how to use every aspect. We also compared it with other ‘phone as PC’ options out there.

So here is GadgetGuy’s Motorola Ready For test, use cases, and how best to interface with a smart TV, dumb monitor, or PC. Things might get a bit technical, however, there’s a handy guide to setting it up at the end.

The best thing is that Motorola Ready For is free with the 2021 Edge series. But as we discovered, each model has quite different Ready For implementations and capabilities. This article identifies these, but only the Edge 20 Pro does it all.

What is Motorola ‘Ready For?’

Many smartphones have enough processing power to challenge a low-end laptop. However, it is not about replacing your Widows desktop or doing AutoCAD or Photoshop. It is about using your smartphone as a light computing device in or out of the home.

Whatever your phone can do, Motorola Ready For (website) can do on a larger screen. It can connect to a Bluetooth keyboard, mouse, game controller and headset, find the right apps, and yes, it can run Office Productivity software with a bit of effort.

While explicitly reviewing Motorola Ready For, you should know its main competition is the well-established Samsung DeX (Desktop eXperience). Android 10 had a Desktop Mode that looks similar to a Windows desktop, complete with icons and menus. (Oddly, the Desktop Mode seems to be missing in Android 11.) And as higher-end smartphones adopt fast cable connections such as USB-C 3.1/2 Gen 1/2 (5/10Gbps), we will see more Android desktops emerge.

Read For has four main modes, and these depend on your Edge 20 model and your use of a PC or Monitor/TV.

Mobile Desktop

The Mobile Desktop mode includes all Android apps on the phone. We’ve listed these and other features below:

  • Multiple Apps and windows
  • A nice interface – well thought out – Windows Taskbar style
  • Cut/paste screen
  • Share and save files between the phone and PC

TV

  • YouTube and Google TV are included but it can access any installed Android streaming apps like Netflix

Games

  • All games and some comms apps

Video camera

  • All video-capable apps – Microsoft Teams, Duo and more
  • Video face follow
  • Good for content creators

Connections – cable, Wi-Fi or Miracast

  • USB-C to USB-C 3.1/2 Gen 1/2 cable 5Gbps to PC (creates Windows Remote Desktop over a cabled network) for data, video, sound – Edge 20 Pro only
  • USB-C to USB-C 2.0 480Mbps half-duplex to PC has a limited set of features – Edge 20 only
  • Over the Wi-Fi network to PC (creates a Windows Remote desktop) – All Edge 20 models
  • Miracast (compatible TV required, and these are increasingly rare) for video/audio and data – Edge 20 Pro and Edge 20 only
  • USB-C to HDMI (if Alt DP supported) for video/audio and data) – Edge 20 Pro only
  • Various Ready For and DeX Docks may provide HDMI out, USB-C charging and USB-A ports – Edge 20 Pro only

Ready For tests

Here are the definitive tested results of which phone does what.

TestPro20Fusion
PC:
Surface Pro 8
2376×1824
(2K screen)
10.0.0.X network
USB 3.1 Gen 2 cable connect
10.0.0.X router network 1920×1200
66% screen (see image below)
Defaults to top left corner
PC mouse and keyboard control Charges phone
10.0.0.X router network
1680×1050
<66%
The reduced screen resolution is a function of reduced USB-C 2.0 bandwidth
No
PC: 4K monitor25% of the screen
Default top left (see image below)
<25% of the screenNo
PC: 1K monitor1920 x 1200
Fullscreen
Allows for Win Taskbar
1680 x 1050
Fills height but not width
No
PC: Wi-Fi
AX router
10.0.0.X
1920×1200 as per above    
10.0.0.X
1680×1050 as per above
192.168.X.X (different network – probably due to the Dimensity SoC)
1920 x 1200 Fill is the same as Pro on different screens
4K Monitor/TV
USB-HDMI
3840×[email protected]
Fullscreen – need to adjust font/icon sizes
Screen trackpad or remote
No charging
NoNo
1K Monitor/TV
USB-HDMI
1920×[email protected]
Fullscreen
Screen trackpad or remote
Could connect BT keyboard and mouse to the phone
No charging
NoNo
1K Monitor/TV with
DeX* station
1920×[email protected]
Fullscreen
NoNo
TV Miracast**3840×[email protected] (60Hz with EZcast)SameNo
4K Lapdock***
with USB-C 3.1
3840×[email protected]
Full keyboard and mouse control with detachable keyboard
NoNo
1K is 1920x1080p

Notes to the table:

* DeX compatible accessories work with the Edge 20 Pro. These include USB-C 3.1 to HMDI 2.0 cables ([email protected] and [email protected] models), The DeX Station (HDMI 1.4b, 2 x USB-A, Ethernet, Power pass-through), Plugable Thunderbolt 3/USB-C 3.1 docks, and USB-C hubs and dongles from Aten and others. At the very least, these give keyboard/mouse capability that is vital for Mobile Desktop mode.

The Motorola Ready For mount is only for the Edge 20 Pro. It lacks any USB expansion ports, so we cannot recommend it over more fully-featured dongles.

** TV Miracast – Many smart TVs from 2020 onwards do not support Miracast – only Chromecast. If you have a Miracast dongle like the Microsoft Display Adapter V2 ($99.95, 1920×[email protected]) or Microsoft 4K Wireless Display Adaptor ($119, 3840×[email protected]), you can add it to any HDMI TV or monitor. There are many other brands of Miracast adapters – my pick would be the [email protected] EZCast Ultra U1 as it gave the smoothest 60Hz image and no dropouts during testing.

*** The UPERFECT X Pro 15.6” Lapdock (9.4/10) has a detachable keyboard/trackpad that is both DeX and Ready For enabled. Frankly, it’s the perfect ‘smart’ touch screen monitor and charges the Edge 20 Pro at the same time.

Lenovo has a 14″ USB-C 1920×1080 portable monitor and a touch screen version

What did we learn from the tests?

The Edge 20 Pro is the only one to go for if you want to use Motorola Ready For as a light laptop replacement. It provides the broadest range of connections and the least issues because it can use USB and HDMI cables. If you use anything other than a 1920 x 1080 PC screen, expect screen sizing issues in Mobile Desktop.

Next, Wi-Fi connections to a PC (tested with the most powerful Netgear RAX200, AX11000, 12 stream router) depends on proximity to the router. At 2m away, it is pretty good. You notice increasing lag (keystrokes and cursor) the further you are away from the router. The Edge 20 performed best in PC Wi-Fi tests as it has a 2400Mbps Wi-Fi 6 VHT160 chip. The Edge 20 Pro tops out at 1200Mbps Wi-Fi VHT 80 and the Fusion at 433Mbps Wi-Fi AC. If you don’t have an AX router, the maximum you will get on all three devices is 433Mbp half-duplex, and we do not recommend Wi-Fi 5 AC for Mobile Desktop.

Using Miracast (Edge 20 Pro and Edge 20) depends on the distance from the TV and was laggy over about 2m away. The EZCast dongle performed best.

Sound

Stereo 2.0 PCM sound is transferred over USB-C, HDMI and Miracast. You can select the phone speaker or the target device (TV, soundbar or PC). You can connect a Bluetooth speaker to all and a 3.5mm speaker to the Edge 20 Fusion.

Bluetooth Keyboard, mouse and game controller

We tested with the Logitech K830 Bluetooth keyboard/trackpad. Any Logitech BT enabled device will connect to the Edge 20 series. If you are using a DeX station or Dock, you can connect USB keyboards and mice. The Game Controller needs Android 11 and BT compatibility.

Advice: Avoid using Mobile Desktop without a keyboard/mouse/trackpad.

Which is best – Samsung DeX or Motorola Ready For?

Ready For has a few rough edges (not the least of which is PC screen resizing on a 2K or 4K display panel), but overall, the two competitors offer pretty much the same experience. Keep in mind that this is Ready For V01.1.0.070.0 – all those zeros means work-in-progress. This can only improve from what is a pretty solid start.

But there is no manual and only a few FAQs that don’t specifically spell out what each model phone can do. It is a little cheeky to promote Edge 20 series as Ready For when they cannot all perform the generic tasks that Ready For advertises. However, in the fine print, we see (I added items in brackets):

CompatibilityUSB-C (3.1)Miracast (to monitor or TV)PC
Pro(PC/TV) ✓✓ (USB 3.1 and Wi-Fi)
20x✓ ✓ (USB 2.0 reduced resolution and Wi-Fi)
Fusionxx✓ (Wi-Fi only 1920 x 1080)

How to set it up

Edge 20 Pro and Windows PC – Setup

Download the Motorola Ready For app for Windows 10 (or later). Launch the app and scan the barcode on the Windows screen to connect.

Edge 20 Pro has USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 (Alt DP 1.4 5Gbps) for a USB-C to USB-C connection. The connection speed is about 425Mbps full-duplex.

Ready For is an Android desktop overlay on Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection (Windows RDC). That also means you can use Remote Desktop via a Chrome Browser to access your Office 365 apps or a remote work PC (if you have an MS subscription). Don’t forget to use a VPN if you need data security. It performed well in tests over NBN 100/40Mbps and should work down to 50/20Mbps.

A few hints (Edge 20 Pro)

  • If you are using your phone for an extended time, you need to consider how to power it. It will chew about 15% of battery per hour – more if you are gaming or watching movies. If you use USB-C to connect to the PC, it will charge the phone. The rate depends on the USB-C port – 3.1/2 Gen 1/2 will provide up to 5V/3A/15W when the battery is empty. As it fills, it drops back to 5V/2A/10W or less. A Wi-Fi connection will not power the phone, but you could then use the charger.
  • Screen timeout is the same as you set on the phone – adjust that to at least 60 minutes
  • Wi-Fi or Miracast mode speeds drop markedly, and lag times increase as you move away from the router. We recommend staying within 2 to 3 metres.

Summary of tests

In Mobile Desktop Mode (PC via USB-C 3.1), The Edge 20 Pro can replace a light workload on a PC. It is perfect for browsing, Outlook or Gmail, executing Android apps, and remote desktop allows access to all my Microsoft Office apps. My biggest issue was screen resizing, and I ended up using a 1080p monitor instead of a 4K. So, on a PC – OK.

Mobile Desktop mode (Monitor via USB-C to HDMI) with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse was superb on a [email protected] or [email protected] monitor, filling the whole screen. Power consumption jumped, so look for DeX compatible cables (Choetech USB-C to HDMI+60W PD, 1.8m) or USB-C docks that allow pass-through power.

In TV mode via USB-C to HDMI, the Edge 20 Pro was superb. You can also use the docks above. Using a Microsoft Miracast dongle (either the [email protected] or [email protected]30Hz models) was erratic, with occasional freezes, lags and dropouts. Sure, that is more the dongle’s fault. The EZCast was much more reliable. Keep in mind that streaming from the smartphone is limited to 1080p (FHD) in Standard Dynamic Range. A 4K TV upscales the signal to 4K anyway.

In Games Mode, we only did limited testing. The Edge 20 Pro was best using a USB-C to HDMI connection. Miracast dongles add too much latency.

In Video Camera mode (on TV or a monitor), we had a flawless Microsoft Teams meeting on the Edge 20 Pro with a USB-C to HDMI cable. The 32 megapixel selfie (binned to 8MP) was crystal clear. We could not access the 108MP rear camera, however. The dual mics were effective to about 1.5m. Facial tracking means you can move around in the frame. It was suitable for up to two people (tracking sensitivity) – three was a challenge. Video camera mode over Miracast on the Edge 20 Pro and 20 was laggy.

GadgetGuy’s take

Having been a long term DeX user and having gone from hot to lukewarm to cold, I feel qualified to have done this exhaustive look at Ready For. Let me say up front that I see a lot of potential in using the Android desktop feature from a phone to ‘replace’ light PC use.

Q: Who wants to use their phone as a laptop?
A: A limited number of people at this time.

Why? Because I think it Ready For is still an answer looking for a problem. It sounds great until you realise that the Edge 20 Pro ($899) is the only Edge 20 that fully supports all Ready For features, and then you need a monitor/TV, keyboard, mouse, cables, Miracast dongle, and power.

We say ‘at this time’ because Ready For is another example of convergence – more features rolled into a smartphone. I use DeX when travelling ‘light’, but I also take the UPERFECT 4K 15.6” Lapdock – an ideal mate for Ready For. But remember that Ready For, especially for Mobile Desktop use, needs a good mobile data or Wi-Fi internet connection to access Office 365, Teams or Outlook.

I could use my Surface Pro 8 Windows hybrid with local storage and installed Office apps. That costs well over $2K but it is one device to carry!

Ready For real use case comes down to totally replacing a laptop. The Edge 20 Pro can do that if you persevere.

The video below shows Ready For In action with the 2020 Edge+ that was not sold in Australia.