Samsung on Wednesday launched their long-delayed first Tizen powered smartphone, the Z1, for Indian consumers, a major development in the tech giant’s aim to build a software ecosystem to rival Google’s Android.
The Z1, which is an entry-level smartphone priced at Rs 5,700, has decent specifications. It comes with a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, 786 MB of RAM and sports a 4-inch WVGA display. Along with a rear camera of 3.1 megapixel and a VGA selfie camera in the front, the Z1 sports Bluetooth module 4.1, a USB 2.0 and GPS. Although the camera may not seem much but the company has promised greater image output capability.
As the Samsung Z1 runs on Tizen, the user has to settle with the Tizen app store which has over a 1,000 apps which includes the more popular ones like Twitter, Facebook among others. Delays in a Tizen smartphone launch undermined confidence and dissuaded third-party developers from creating software applications needed to populate a Tizen ecosystem.
The Z1 will go on sale in India on Wednesday for 5,700 rupees targeting first-time smartphone users, the firm said in a statement. Adding to it, Hyun Chil Hong, Samsung India CEO and President said, “The phone was developed in India and so we are releasing it here first.” Z1 buyers will also get free data from Indian mobile operators Reliance Communications Ltd and Aircel for six months, as well as free music and video content worth a combined Rs 1,750 for the first six months of the purchase.
The launch is a key step in the company’s strategy to break free from the Android platform, which powers Samsung’s flagship Galaxy devices and most other smartphones on the market. At less than a Rs 6,000 price tag, the Z1 will be able to compete with low-price offerings by manufacturers like Micromax, Lava and Intex in India, analysts said. Also, Indian smartphone makers can expect competition from Samsung as the Z1 launch clearly states that it wants to develop and manufacture phones in India.
“The price will also help convince first-time smartphone buyers to try a Tizen-powered device. Samsung has better chances of success with first-time smartphone users, who may have limited exposure to the huge ecosystem offerings from Android or (Apple Inc’s ) iOS,” an analyst said. While India is already the world’s third-biggest market for smartphones, most consumers in the country do not yet own one of the devices, meaning the growth potential is huge. A Samsung spokeswoman said the firm had not decided whether to launch the Z1 in any other countries. Samsung is however pushing to grow Tizen on other platforms such as televisions.
Until now, Tizen has been deployed only in Samsung smartwatches and cameras, leading some analysts to doubt if it would ever power devices in the crucial smartphone business. The mobile division as a whole accounted for about 68% of the firm’s operating profit in 2013 which makes this launch significant for the Korean smartphone giant.
Notably, this is not Samsung’s first Tizen phone, the Z, which was launched earlier was a high-end phone with way better specifications than Z1 and was running on the 2.2 version of Tizen. The Z1 sports the next generation of Tizen (2.3).
Samsung Z1 product specifications
Network: GSM 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, HSDPA 900/2100 MHz
Display: 4” WVGA PLS screen
Processor: 1.2 GHz Dual Core Processor
OS: Tizen 2.3
Camera: Rear 3.1 MP/Front: VGA
Memory: 4GB Internal memory + micro SD slot (up to 64GB)/768 MB RAM
Dimension, Weight: 120.4 x 63.2 x 9.7 mm, 112g
Battery: 1500 mAh