The South Korean firm, probably best known for its popular line of Galaxy smartphones, has unveiled its first device to run the open source Tizen OS. The handset, known as the Samsung Z (no Android, no Galaxy), looks solid on the spec sheet and will launch first in Russia.
The handset is powered by an unspecified 2.3 GHz quad core CPU, backed up by 2 GB RAM and with 16 and 32 GB storage options, as well as a microSD card slot for expansion up to 64 GB. The device is packing 8 MP and 2.1 MP cameras on the front and rear, and a range of sensors including an accelerometer, gyroscope, fingerprint scanner and heart rate sensor.
The smartphone’s biggest hiccup is its somewhat disappointing 4.8-inch 1280 x 720 display. This isn’t quite a flagship device, so it’s understandable that not all the hardware will be high-end, but it would have been nice to see a full HD offering on Tizen’s first proper outing.
The handset runs on Tizen 2.2.1, features LTE connectivity and is kept running by a 2,600 mAh battery. Though a battery of that size seems generous for a device carrying a 720p screen, with no details on the CPU, it’s not possible to say what sort of battery life that will translate into.
The device’s faux-leather back clearly references the company’s popular Android-powered Galaxy range, but the styling is less accomplished with square shoulders and a bland design language. It’s a clean look, but there’s nothing particularly high-end about it. On the plus side, the handset comes in at a trim 8.5 mm (0.33 in) and weighs just 136 g (0.3 lb).
Looking past the hardware, what’s easily the most interesting thing about the device is its software. Tizen OS is an HTML5-friendly, open source platform steered by Samsung and Intel, and designed to be scalable over a range of devices, from smartphones to laptops and beyond.
Though there is some significant buzz surrounding the software, it’s difficult to see it seriously competing with the likes of Android and iOS, whose superior app selection and years of fine tuning make them near impossible to match at this point. Samsung seems to be aware of this issue, offering special promotional offers to new developers and hosting local app challenges in Russia and other CIS countries around the device’s launch.
As previously stated, the Samsung Z will hit Russian shores first, launching in two colors (black and gold) in Q3 2014. Though we do know that the device will see wider release in the future, there’s no word yet on what it will actually cost.