“The Z2 is the brand’s third Tizen-toting smartphone and has been priced quite affordably”
Tizen. You may or may not have heard of this mobile platform, especially in a world dominated by Android and Apple’s iOS, but the fact is that Samsung is very gung-ho about it. The platform is actually open source, but Samsung is one of the main proponents, and offers multiple devices that utilise it. Apart from wearables like the Gear S2 smartwatch (first impressions), the Korean giant also had a couple of smartphones in the form of the Z1 (first impressions) and the Z3 (first impressions) running Tizen, but it seemed to miss one model in the middle, at least as far as the naming convention is concerned. That foible has been taken care of today with the launch of the Samsung Z2, the brand’s third smartphone rocking Tizen. The Z2 is actually the first Tizen phone to boast 4G, and that’s one of its key highlights. In fact, the phone supports VoLTE, and comes with the Jio Preview offer that lets you claim a free SIM card that gives you HD voice calls, data and access to Jio’s premium content and apps for three months. This budget phone offers basic specs and seems like the odd man out in a segment ruled by Android, but before we get into the how and the why of it, let’s take a closer look at the phone.
The Z2 is an extremely compact device, and it has its 4-inch screen to thank for that. It’s also quite thick, but that hardly takes anything away from the one-handed usage aspect – the phone is ideal for that and sits in the hands rather well. It’s fashioned out of plastic, but the textured pattern on the rear helps and the phone doesn’t really feel plasticky… the build quality seems good too. The textured finish on the rear also helps enhance grip, and adds a bit of flair to the looks.
Otherwise, the phone looks quite the usual, with standard placement of ports and controls. At the front, you’ll see Samsung branding on top along with the earpiece and front camera, while a physical home button sits below. The latter is flanked by non-backlit capacitive navigation keys.
The left spine is home to a volume rocker while the power key is situated on the right. The headset socket is on top, while the micro-USB port has been placed at the bottom… as usual.
Switch to the rear, and the first thing you’ll notice is the textured pattern. The edges taper towards both sides, which add to the overall look and feel. The primary camera juts out of the body, and is flanked by an LED flash and speaker. You’ll also see Samsung branding, and 4G written closer to the bottom. The rear panel can be pried open to reveal the removable 1,500mAh battery. You’ll also find a microSD card slot, and hidden under the battery are a pair of micro-SIM slots.
The core specs of the Samsung Z2 include the 4-inch screen (WVGA resolution), a 1.5GHz quad-core processor from Spreadtrum, a gig of RAM, and 8GB storage (expandable by another 128GB). The front shooter is VGA, while the primary camera shoots stills at a maximum of 5MP resolution, while video capture is limited to 720p. In our brief usage, we didn’t encounter any lags, and the Tizen OS it runs could be one of the reasons for that… as the platform doesn’t seem too heavy on resources.
Tizen offers a swipe-driven interface, with the app icons laid out on the home screens. The top portion of the screen offers a quick access area where you can place the apps you use frequently, while the main app drawer can be accessed by swiping upwards on the screen. A downward swipe from the top displays quick settings and the notification panel, much like Android.
Tizen doesn’t support Android apps however, and offers its own store for downloading apps and games. A quick check revealed that the Tizen Store has the usual stuff to offer, at least in terms of popular apps. The ones we noticed include WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc. Some of the other apps and games we found preloaded on our demo unit include SHAREit, Asphalt Nitro, OlaCabs, Quikr, Cricbuzz, HDFC Bank, iMobile (for ICICI bank customers), MX Player, VLC, Jabong, OLX and Gaana. Suffice to say that if you’re concerned about the app ecosystem offered by Tizen, the platform seems to have the basics covered.
One of the app highlights includes My Money Transfer, an app that lets you transfer up to Rs 5,000 to others, and doesn’t even require internet connectivity. Samsung has also thrown in its signature features like S Bike mode, Ultra Data Saving mode that blocks unnecessary data consumption apart from compressing data, and Ultra Power Saving mode to prolong battery life.
Customisation options include support for themes. The Z2 also boasts support for quite a few Indian regional languages, which definitely makes it appealing for those not comfortable with English.
At first glance, the rear camera seems fixed focus, but we’ll double check and update this article in case we’re wrong about this. The image quality seems decent, while the camera app offers various modes like Pro, Beauty, Night, HDR, plus a bunch of colour filters.
Priced at Rs 4,590, the Samsung Z2 seems like a reasonable option for first-time smartphone users, though it hardly stands out, at least in terms of specs. As to why anyone should opt for this instead of an Android smartphone… there’s really no straightforward answer. As per Samsung though, Tizen is a future-proof OS and considering the same platform powers many of its wearables and smart offerings like Samsung Connect Auto, the company is possibly looking at creating a 360-degree ecosystem of devices and services built around them to take us into the IoT era. With that in mind, the Z2 could just be one small part of the puzzle… early days yet.