Samsung Electronics launched the first phone running its homegrown Tizen operating system on Monday morning. The Samsung Z, as it is called, will go on sale in Russia in the third quarter.
Samsung currently sells more smartphones than any other company, but the vast majority of those handsets run Google’s(s goog) Android operating system. Tizen, which has been in development in conjunction with Intel(s intq) since 2011, could be a way for Samsung to achieve greater independence from Google. The MeeGo-based operating system is already commercially available on Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatches.
The Samsung Z won’t be a worldbeater: it’s a 4.9-inch phone with a 1280 x 720 AMOLED display, an unidentified quad-core processor, and 2GB of RAM. However, it does have a few flagship features, such as Samsung’s fingerprint sensor embedded in the home button and a heart-rate monitor on the back. No price was specified, but based on the launch market and its components, it will likely be in the $200-$400 range.
It will be running Tizen version 2.2.1.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a wealth of information about how Tizen works, but from the available screenshots, its interface looks a lot like Samsung’s Touchwiz Android skin, with the biggest visual difference being Tizen uses circular icons.
One thing you can glean is that Tizen will have its own app store, and Samsung is currently looking for developers fluent in its HTML 5 environment. The platform is going to need a lot of apps soon, in order to compete with the established smartphone ecosystems. According to the release, in order to “encourage more developers to join, the Tizen Store would provide a special promotional program to all developers for one year.”