Samsung’s first Tizen-powered smartphone, the Samsung Z, begins a new chapter in the company’s future, but does it have a happy ending?
The words ‘Samsung Galaxy’ have been repeated millions of times over the past few years since they first appeared on one of Sammy’s first Android devices back in 2009.
Since then the South Korean tech giant has exploded on to the mobile scene posing the single biggest threat to Apple, the other big name in mobile. But what if Samsung never took on Android, or rather, what sort of smartphone would we get if the company left Android and the Galaxy brand behind?
What is Tizen?
Samsung has been toying with Tizen for quite some time. It’s an alternative operating system grown out of a collective effort from Samsung, Intel and the Linux Foundation.
It’s already found on a number of devices, including several of Samsung’s NX cameras and it most recently replaced Android on the new Samsung Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo smartwatches. The company just revealed a Tizen-powered smart TV at the Tizen developer conference in San Francisco too.
So why put it on a smartphone?
Samsung’s always wanted to have an ecosystem to call its own. Take a look at any of the currently Galaxy family and compare it to stock Android. It uses a distinctive interface all its own called TouchWiz and Samsung loads proprietary apps unavailable to other non-Samsung Android devices, not to mention there’s a standalone Samsung Apps store which runs in parallel to the Google Play store.
Some of you might also remember Bada, the company’s previous smartphone OS, which faded into obscurity once Android’s grip on the market grew strong enough. Tizen was chosen for its supposed speed and efficiency when it comes to multi-tasking and usability.
Sammy’s starting small, but the Tizen-powered Samsung Z looks to be the company’s attempt to re-establish control on the entire smartphone experience, including its operating system.
Samsung Z hardware
Aside from the unorthodox OS choice in Tizen 2.2.1, the Samsung Z is built to the familiar standards of any high-powered smartphone. There’s a 4.8-inch 720p HD Super AMOLED display, 16GB of inbuilt storage with microSD expandability by an additional 64GB, a 2.3GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM. The 2600mAh battery also comes complete with an Ultra Power Saving Mode for added longevity.
The similarities to the Galaxy S5 are particularly strong, as the Z also boasts a fingerprint-scanning hardware home button and a heart rate monitor built into the phone’s back. Tizen as found on the Z also comes with a TouchWiz-like aesthetic that features a familiar weather widget, a swipe down notifications bar with Quick Connect and connectivity toggles as well as an animated lock screen akin to the Galaxy S5.
When does it get here?
Samsung has officially stated Q3, 2014 as the official touchdown of this new Tizen titan, but it’ll launch exclusively in Russia for the time being; a market that Samsung feels has more breathing room for alternative mobile operating systems than regions closer to home, including Europe and the US.
As we said earlier, Samsung’s starting small, but if the Samsung Z smartphone is a success, then the balance between Android and Tizen could start to shift and the Galaxy could slowly fade out.
The deciding factor will be apps. With over a million apps already out in the wild for Android, Tizen has a monumental amount of catching up to do, and unless it can pull something pretty special out the bag, it’s unclear how the South Korean phone maker expects this new path to succeed.
Image source: SamsungTomorrow