It looks as though Samsung’s on-again, off-again Tizen smartphone project is back on. According to Reuters, the South Korean electronics giant is targeting India for the launch of its mid-range Z1 smartphone that will run Tizen.
Samsung will reportedly hold a press conference on December 10 to officially announce the device, which has the internal designation of SM-Z130H. The Z1 will have a sub-$100 price tag, and its specifications are in line with that pricing. It will reportedly feature a 1.2GHz processor, 512MB RAM, 4GB of onboard storage, a microSD slot, 4” WVGA (800x480) display, dual SIM slots, GPS, Wi-Fi, and 3G connectivity.
The Z1 could give Samsung a shot at competing with Chinese OEMs like Xiaomi and Huawei, which have been chipping away at its sales in the low-end market. However, many will wonder if Samsung will have any chance of success by going with the Tizen operating system instead of sticking with Android, which has brought tremendous success to the company (and dominant worldwide market share… for now).
Samsung has a checkered past with its Tizen smartphone aspirations. At a Russian press event in July – an event in which Samsung failed to launch the Tizen-based “Z” smartphone -- company officials were unenthusiastic about the smartphone, with Dmitry Anosov stating, “The most obvious advantage [of developing for the Tizen phone] is that you’ll be at the top in a half empty store on a decent premium device.”
The Russian forfeiture came shortly after Samsung cancelled plans to launch the smartphone in Japan. Then in late July, Samsung announced that it would further delay the launch of the Z in order to “enhance the Tizen ecosystem.”
Samsung has found better success by using the Tizen operating in the budding smartwatch category with devices like the Gear S and Gear 2. However, transferring that success to the smartphone category is a tall order, especially considering that established mobile operating systems from Microsoft and BlackBerry are puttering along with 2.5 percent and 0.5 percent of the global smartphone market respectively.