Samsung looks beyond Android, reveals first phone with Tizen OS

Samsung's dominance in the smartphone market is well-documented, but the South Korean tech giant can't quite take all the credit for its success. Underneath the company's enormous marketing budget, its extraordinary array of handset hardware, and even its TouchWiz user interface, lies Google's Android OS, which Samsung still relies on for the overwhelming majority of its mobile devices. 

As Google begins to exert more influence over Android, for example with its upcoming Silver program, Samsung has been looking towards a mobile future beyond Android. Today, Samsung finally unveiled its first smartphone running its own Tizen OS - a small, but potentially important step towards reducing its dependence on Google. 

That device is the Samsung Z, and considering its significance, it is perhaps surprising that the handset is so unremarkable at first glance. It could easily be mistaken for any number of the company's Galaxy handsets, right down to the placement of the hardware buttons, and its spec sheet probably won't get your heart rate up either. 

With a quad-core 2.3GHz processor (believed to be an Intel Moorefield unit), 2GB of RAM and 16GB of onboard storage, the Z also features a 4.8-inch 720p Super AMOLED screen, 8MP rear camera, 2.1MP front cam and 4G LTE connectivity. Like the company's flagship Galaxy S5, the Z also includes a heart rate sensor and fingerprint scanner.

As the company aims to compete more aggressively against the likes of Apple, as well as rival Android manufacturers, Samsung appears to taking its first steps towards the kind of vertical integration that has made Apple such a success.

Ian Fogg of consultancy firm IHS told BBC News: "Samsung is seeking to integrate its own components, displays, software and services. Using Android makes the firm dependent on Google, meaning its ability to differentiate its products is less strong than if it had its own operating system." He added that "by going down the Tizen route, the risk is the firm doesn't have enough high quality apps available to make the devices good enough for consumers." 

Samsung is not oblivious to that reality, of course. This week, the company will be hosting its Tizen developer conference in San Francisco, at which the Z will see its official launch. Samsung has also promised that "to encourage more developers to join, the Tizen Store will provide a special promotional program to all developers for one year".

Details of that program are expected at the conference, where the company will hopefully also reveal pricing information for the Z. Samsung has said that the device will launch first in Russia in Q3, before rolling out to other markets. 

The company gave the world its most recent taste of Tizen back at the Mobile World Congress in February, when it showed off prototypes of its devices running the OS. But while the Z is Samsung's first smartphone featuring Tizen, it is not its first device to break free of Android. Just a few days ago, the company began rolling out an update for its Galaxy Gear watch, which replaced the Android OS with Tizen 2.2.

Source and images: Samsung Tomorrow 

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40 Comments

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this might sell well at the (very) low end even without Android apps. If this runs Android apps, then Samsung does have a very credible threat to Android.

jakem1 said,
The phone itself looks like an Omnia 7, especially the rear shot of the brown one.

Yeah, it look like Omnia 7 as well as Nokia Lumia

Tizen is an Android fork. Like the Nokia X, most users who care enough will root it, install Google's apps and Play Store, and enjoy. Then, Tizen becomes just like any other Google Android phone.

People who use Samsung, use it because its Android, at-least here they do. People are already switching to Nexus, Motorola, LG, I highly doubt Samsung would risk it. If they do launch a main phone, stripped of Android, it will fail.

Get popular on Android, gain traction, and then switch everything to your own OS, brilliant! Samsung is really pulling a Microsoft here, embrace, extend, and extinguish

Grumphus said,
Samsung Galaxy phones are getting extinguished?

No, Android is. (as seen with the Galaxy Gear, we'll probably see an update that will replace Android with Tizen in the future once this phone gets enough apps)

To be fair Android needs a 16-core machine to perform :D
Tizen looks a lot like Android so here is the catch. Same strategy Nokia is taking with the X & XL.
I would be surprised if Android apps didn't run on this as I doubt Samsung wrote a kernel from scratch.

mastercoms said,

No, Android is. (as seen with the Galaxy Gear, we'll probably see an update that will replace Android with Tizen in the future once this phone gets enough apps)

Android isnt going anywhere and I doubt Tizen will gain much traction for a while. Look how long it took/taking devs and apps to come over to WP and it is Microsoft behind WP. Tizen will have a much bigger battle.

techbeck said,

Android isnt going anywhere and I doubt Tizen will gain much traction. Look how long it took/taking devs and apps to come over to WP and it is Microsoft behind WP. Tizen will have a much bigger battle.


Yes, but Samsung has the traction in the phone market already to accommodate developers for such a switch, it was probably their plan all along.
Samsung tried really hard to promote Tizen on its hardware, before going with Android. Now that they have the hardware market under their control, they can change the OS.

mastercoms said,

Yes, but Samsung has the traction in the phone market already to accommodate developers for such a switch, it was probably their plan all along.

I doubt they will ditch Android all together even if Tizen takes off. And having a big stake/presence in the market related to apps or OS really doesnt matter. MS has more ability and respect in the market that Samsung...but yet, WP is still lagging pretty well behind. I remember the same comments made about Android when WP came out.

techbeck said,

I doubt they will ditch Android all together even if Tizen takes off. And having a big stake/presence in the market related to apps or OS really doesnt matter. MS has more ability and respect in the market that Samsung...but yet, WP is still lagging pretty well behind. I remember the same comments made about Android when WP came out.


Well not in the phone market. Samsung is a very well known company in mobile, however, Microsoft lagged behind in this regard.

techbeck said,
Meant that MS has more respect and trust as a company than Samsung has or ever will have and yet, still having a hard time.

Yes, but if Samsung has market share, and technically, if android = Samsung, Android developers will have to either face decreased Android users, and as a result decreased sales, or develop for Tizen, which will have the Samsung user base.

techbeck said,
Possibly. But I am betting another OEM will come out on top or the vanilla models will.

Yes, but Samsung has penetrated the market through diversity. It has cluttered model after model of its phones, accommodating to every single hand size, and work flow. It would be hard for a single OEM to produce the massive product range Samsung has.
I am hoping for another OEM (ZTE, HTC, and maybe even Huawei) to over take Samsung too, it would be interesting what kind of competition that would cause.

mastercoms said,

Yes, but if Samsung has market share, and technically, if android = Samsung, Android developers will have to either face decreased Android users, and as a result decreased sales, or develop for Tizen, which will have the Samsung user base.

Sorry but I don't think a Samsung Tizen phone can properly compete with any of the flagship Sony and LG and numerous other Chinese phones that all cling to Android.

Getting developers onboard is easier said than done. You think EA, Rovio,, PopCap, Gameloft, will start making Tizen apps?

You think those users that heavily depend on apps like Tasker, Nova Launcher, AirDroid, Instagram, and the numerous other services that have Android apps will suddenly switch to Tizen?

Windows Phone doesn't even have Candy Crush yet. You think it will appear on Tizen first?

mastercoms said,
we'll probably see an update that will replace Android with Tizen in the future once this phone gets enough apps)

I can just imagine what that will look like. Something along the lines of "Do you want to update to Tizen? All of the apps you downloaded and bought in Google Play won't work"

Grumphus said,

I can just imagine what that will look like. Something along the lines of "Do you want to update to Tizen? All of the apps you downloaded and bought in Google Play won't work"

That can be easily solved with an android app emulator or another way to support android apps

Unless Samsung makes Android apps work on Tizen...I dont see this taking off. At least, not any time soon. They have to pull in devs and build there store and ATM, there isnt room for a 4th store.

They have a large user base and probably enough money to pay developers. I'm not a real fan of Samsung phones myself but I can definitely see them pulling it off. I wonder how will respond to this.

techbeck said,
Unless Samsung makes Android apps work on Tizen...I dont see this taking off. At least, not any time soon. They have to pull in devs and build there store and ATM, there isnt room for a 4th store.

Shouldn't be too difficult. Might be a problem getting the google play store on it though

HawkMan said,
Like they did with Bada OS....
Exactly my thoughts. Strange they would try this again but they must have their 'good' reasons for doing so.

good for them. they really don't need google (or any western software company). I bet you they are in a panic state at google. companies that wish to provide software for Samsung devices should adopt their OS and google is no exception. Surely that will burn Larry's ego who still refuses to use twitter ha ha.

Not sure if a western company should be worried about a phone that isn't launching in the west. Maybe not yet unless Tizen gets some Android apps/games.