We knew this day was coming. Samsung’s been working on Tizen for years now, taking its time to help flesh-out the platform into something that would be able to take a swing at the Android-dominated phone landscape out there now. We’ve already seen Samsung bring Tizen to its cameras, as well as its smartwatches – and just last week it reached a milestone as it updated the first-gen Galaxy Gear to replace its native Android OS with Tizen. But for all this progress, we’ve been lacking one key development: a full-on smartphone, a commercially-focused Tizen handset. It’s taken us a long time to get here, but today Samsung finally introduces its first Tizen phone, the Samsung Z.
Hardware-wise, the Z looks pretty darn solid: we’ve got a 4.8-inch 720p OLED display, a 2.3GHz quad-core SoC, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB internal storage with support for microSD expansion. The phone will feature an 8MP main camera with 2.1MP front-facer, support LTE, and measure just 8.5mm thick. We even see it pick up a couple of the Galaxy S5′s more notable features, with the inclusion of a fingerprint scanner and heart rate sensor.
Samsung’s plans for the Z begin in Russia, where the phone will first go up for sale during the third quarter of this year. Following that, Samsung says the phone’s availability should “expand to other markets,” but we don’t get any of those details just yet.
But the real question about this launch isn’t the Samsung Z’s hardware, nor how it will be sold, but that of the public’s interest in Tizen. Are the masses willing to take a chance on an unproven smartphone platform? We may not start getting useful answers to that until after the Z’s released. To its credit, Samsung says it’s offering a special promo program for Tizen developers, and will be hosting “app challenges” for devs in markets where the Z is sold, but none of that changes the fact that Samsung has a lot of proving to do. We should start getting a sense of its success as the Z is released in the next few months.