Samsung’s first Tizen powered smartphones have gone on sale.
The Z1 handsets are available in India for 5,700 rupees ($92) and, according to Samsung, offer faster boot times and longer-lasting battery life than many budget-priced rivals.
Samsung had previously planned to sell Tizen phones in Russia and Japan, but cancelled the launches.
One expert said the Indian move represented a shift away from Android.
Samsung is currently the world’s bestselling manufacturer of handsets running Android.
However, the company was a notable holdout when Google announced its Android One program for India in September – an effort by the search giant to help manufacturers release low-cost “high quality” phones in the country by setting minimum standards and sourcing several of the hardware components for them.
Samsung’s Z1 handset features:
- A 4in (10.2cm) providing 480p resolution
- A 3.1 megapixel rear camera and a 0.3 megapixel front one
- Four gigabytes of internal memory that can be further expanded via the addition of a microSD card
- Support for two Sim cards at once – a popular feature in the country as it helps users obtain the best rates by switching provider when crossing states
Samsung says it can provide up to eight hours of talktime or seven hours of non-stop video playback between charges.
To aid its appeal, Samsung is also providing free access to Bollywood songs and movies for three months via tie-ups with local services Hungama, nexGTv and Box TV.
It has also struck a deal to provide 500 megabytes of included 3G data a month for half a year if the devices are used on Reliance or Aircel’s local networks. By contrast Google’s Android One scheme offers 200MB of Google Play downloads for six months if used on Bharti Airtel’s network.
Samsung already uses Tizen operating system to power several of its smartwatches – including its top-end curved Gear S – and cameras. It also announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas earlier this month that all its new smart TVs would run off the platform.
The open-source operating system is based on Linux and uses the web language HTML5 as the focus for app development rather than native code, meaning software writers should it easy to work with.
Huawei, Fujitsu, Intel and LG among other tech giants that have signed up to a consortium dedicated to supporting the software’s development. But to date, Samsung has taken the lead in attempting to bring it to consumer devices.
Samsung cancelled the release of a Tizen-based smartphone in Russia last August saying it wanted more time to “enhance” the ecosystem – a decision interpreted by some to mean that it needed more apps.
The network NTT Docomo had earlier pulled plans to launch a Tizen-powered Samsung phone in Japan in March because it felt its local market could not sustain another operating system, according to the Wall Street Journal.
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