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In 2014, Samsung’s attempts to release a smartphone running Tizen – the company’s homegrown mobile OS built to bring in more app sales revenue and decrease its reliance on Google and Android – couldn’t have gone much worse. The Samsung Z was supposed to come out in Russia and officially usher in the age of Tizen mobile phones – but it was delayed, then apparently scrapped. But now after rumors that a Tizen-based smartphone would hit India soon, Samsung has announced the Z1, a revamped Tizen handset available starting today for 5,700 rupees, or roughly $91.

The Z1 offers extremely modest specs compared with many of today’s smartphones. Under its 4-inch display, it packs a 1.2 GHz dual core processor, 768 MB of RAM, and 4 GB of internal storage, which is expandable up to 64 GB via micro SD. The rear camera is 3.1 megapixels, and the front-facing camera is VGA, meaning it’s 640 x 480 pixels, and won’t be good for particularly impressive selfies.

Samsung seems to have made a deal with two wireless carriers in India, too, in order to make the new Tizen handset a better value. The Z1 will be capable of jumping onto 3G networks from Reliance Communications and Aircel, and that will also apparently provide 500 MB of 3G data for free very month over six months. That’s a nice way of making the Z1 more attractive – especially since it’ll only be capable of running Tizen apps.

That’s the biggest problem facing Samsung and its Tizen ambitions at the moment. The company is pushing out smart televisions running Tizen, and all of its smartwatches (with one exception) runs Tizen. But as of now, there just aren’t enough apps to make Tizen a viable Android or iOS alternative. That can change as more users jump on board, of course – and that’s exactly what Samsung hopes will happen with the budget-priced Z1 in India. If there are users, apps should follow. Will it be enough to make Tizen a plausible contender in the US and Europe, though?

[Samsung Unveils the Z1]


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