The Tizen-powered Samsung Z still feels like Android

by Matt Klassen on June 9, 2014

When Samsung first announced it had joined the Tizen mobile operating system project two things were abundantly clear to the tech world: First, Samsung wanted a viable alternative OS to alleviate its dependence on Google’ Android, and second, this desire meant that Samsung would be faced with the considerable challenge of segueing its current Android base over to its Tizen phones.

Samsung clarified its strategy on both accounts last week, as the company officially unveiled its first Tizen phone, the Samsung Z, at the Tizen Developer Conference inSan Francisco. Not only does the phone serve as Samsung’s first foray into the world of Tizen, the first of the phones that could one day dethrone Android, but it also serves as a showcase for Samsung’s Tizen marketing strategy going forward: make Tizen exactly like Android…at least for now.

In fact as CNET writer Jessica Dolcourt writes, “If you only remember three things about the Samsung Z, make them these: 1) it’s the company’s first phone to run Samsung’s home brew Tizen operating system; 2) it launches first in Russia in the third quarter of this year; and 3) it looks a lot more like the Android-based Samsung Galaxy S5 flagship phone than you might expect.”

Let’s be honest here, Samsung may have made Tizen as close to the Android experience as possible without stepping on any toes, legally speaking, but given the herculean task of breaking into a well-established mobile market, would Samsung’s Tizen have any chance if it didn’t? In fact, mimicry seems the only way for any mobile player to establish itself, a fact Android learned early on as evidenced by the ongoing legal row between that mobile OS and the previous incumbent, Apple’s iOS.

To that end, the interface on the Samsung Z closely resembles its Android cousin, the Galaxy S5, particularly with its industry standard multiple home screens, the app tray, the notifications tab and the available widgets. Further, Samsung has included industry standard swipe down menu with features like power-saving modes, security, and Wi-Fi/Bluetooth connectivity.

The icons function almost identically to their Android counterparts as well, offering the same customization features with only a little Tizen flare to set the Z apart from the Android family.

But really none of this comes as a surprise, as one would expect all the industry standard features to be available in the Tizen-powered Z, after all, Samsung is the company that made most of those things standard anyway. In addition, don’t be surprised to see Samsung’s bevy of home-grown apps and features, like S Voice, S Health, and S Translator that come preloaded on all Samsung phones.

Where things really get similar, however, is the visual aesthetics of the interface, as the lock screen looks virtually identical to Samsung’s Android phones, as does the look and placement of several icons like Camera, and the company’s familiar Settings menu. While everything on the Z certainly has some unique Tizen tweaks, analysts agree that you definitely still get the feel that you’re still on an Android phone.

Much to Google’s chagrin, though, I would guess that an “Android feel” was exactly what Samsung was going for when it undertook this great Tizen experiment, and something I would wager it focused heavily on during the phone’s development stage, which took a year longer than anticipated.

What truly sets the Samsung Z apart, however, is not that it sports an edgy high-end look, but that it does so and yet comes with an attractive mid-range price point, a fact that drives home Tizen’s desire to garner everyman appeal. While the OS will still have to overcome obstacles that face every fledgling platform—particularly creating an app ecosystem—the fact that Tizen feels a lot like Android will only help the operating system gain traction, as what better way to promote mass adoption than to not have your customers know they’ve changed anything at all.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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