Samsung has taken a tentative step forward in establishing what it hopes to be a third major mobile platform, competing against the dominant iOS and Android.
Called the Z1, Samsung’s Tizen-running smartphone went on sale in India today—boasting a bare-bones 4-inch WVGA screen, a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 768MB of RAM, 1500mAh battery, 3.1-megapixel camera, and 4GB of storage, as well as a microSD slot. The $90 device represents a new dedication to the low-cost smartphone market for Samsung, which has seen its mobile division stumble over the last year, despite (or possibly because of) record-breaking years for rivals like Apple and Xiaomi.
Tizen is a project of the Linux Foundation; Samsung is among its adopters. The Korean giant has so far released cameras, smartwatches, and a prototype television powered by the operating system, but until now had been unable to create a smartphone that runs Tizen. The Tizen OS reportedly runs quickly on Samsung’s new handset, offers good battery efficiency, and comes bundled with some free entertainment content.
It’s not yet known when or if the Z1 will appear in the U.S. and other Western markets. India represents a big market opportunity for smartphone manufacturers–with 1.2 billion citizens and a rapidly-growing smartphone market–so it’s possible that Samsung will focus its energy there for a while.
At last week’s CES, Samsung also took steps to rebrand itself as a company focused on establishing the Internet of Things.