First impressions: Samsung Z1, the first Tizen smartphone

Written By kom nampultig on Kamis, 15 Januari 2015 | 07.20

NEW DELHI: Samsung's much awaited Tizen OS-powered smartphone, Z1, has finally been unveiled after a long wait. An entry-level device, the Z1 is targeted at first time smartphone users. Priced at Rs 5,700, the phone will compete with budget Android smartphones such as the Motorola Moto E and Xiaomi Redmi 1S.

It's not the first time that Samsung has introduced a smartphone powered by its in-house OS (technically Samsung is one of the partners involved with the development of Tizen). It's in fact in a way, a successor to the South Korean giant's Bada OS that powered its Wave line of smartphones. While Samsung has already introduced Tizen powered wearable devices and televisions, the company claims that its smartphone avatar offers a fluid user experience on low-end devices as Tizen is a 'light weight' OS compared to Android, and the hardware-software integration will be tighter.

We spent some time with the Samsung Z1 at the launch event and here are our first impressions...

At first glance the Samsung Z1 does not look very different from the company's Android offerings and essentially follows the same design language, complete with rounded corners, a metallic rim and the physical Home button. It is available in three colours - white, black and red, and is made from plastic materials.

The front of the phone features a glossy panel that houses a 4-inch WVGA (480x800p) PLS display. We found the display to be decent with good viewing angles though the brightness levels could have been better.

Just below the display, there's a physical Home button and two capacitive keys for Back and Menu functions. The VGA front camera and chrome earpiece sit above the display. A metallic frame surrounds the phone at the edges giving it a solid feel.

The right edge sports the power key while the left features the volume rocker keys. The keys are responsive and offer good tactile feedback. The top edge of the phone has the 3.5mm headset jack while the micro-USB port is at the bottom edge.

The back cover of the phone sports a matte finish and is removable. It's easy to remove thanks to a small opening near the left edge. The cover hides a removable 1500mAh battery, two micro sim card slots and a microSD card slot. The 3.1MP camera and an LED flash is also located at the back along with a speaker outlet.

The Samsung Z1 is powered by a 1.2GHz A7 dual-core processor and 768MB RAM and comes with 4GB internal storage expandable up to 64GB via microSD card. It runs Tizen 2.3 OS. Samsung says the Z1 delivers a faster boot time and enhanced web performance to offer users faster page loading times with decreased data usage. The phone also features an 'Ultra Power Saving Mode' to stretch the battery backup.

In our use, we did not experience any lag or stutter while navigating between the home screens, app launcher pages and opening and switching between apps. Although the phone may seem to be underpowered judging merely by specifications, we feel that Samsung has optimized the OS to run smoothly on the phone.

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Samsung ships the phone with all the basic native apps and the demo unit also featured apps for Facebook and YouTube and games such as Bejeweled. The Tizen Store lets users download third party apps though we're not sure if it offers apps from all major developers at this time. Some of the apps were simply links to mobile web pages. We also spotted WhatsApp messenger which is an ACL (Application Compatibilty Layer) app. This means that the phone will be able to run select Android apps using emulation. We're not sure if it will offer push notifications for these apps, though.

The Tizen UI is more or less similar to the TouchWiz UI layer seen in Samsung's recent Android phones with some minor changes. The app launcher is a little different and slides up from the bottom of the screen. It features eight fixed app shortcuts and 4x3 launcher screens. There's a notifications tray as well. We'll have more details on the software in our full review.

The phone sports a 3.1MP rear camera with LED flash and a VGA front camera. While it's difficult to comment on the quality of the pictures, we did not experience any shutter lag. The camera does not offer focus lock.

Overall, the Samsung Z1 seems to be a decent budget option but a lot would depend on developer support for apps. With players like Xiaomi, Asus and Motorola, the budget Android phone segment is witnessing fierce competition and consumers have a wide range of options, some even sporting better hardware. Samsung will need to ensure the phone offers all major apps in addition to the free online multimedia content it's bundling with the phone, if it wants the phone to make a mark.

We'll have a detailed review of the Samsung Z1 very soon.

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