There are two new Samsung products in the pipeline that seem rote, but are worth paying attention to. The first is Tizen 3.0, the latest version of the company’s multi-purpose OS; and the second is the Samsung Z4, which will be the first phone to run that new OS.
The Z4 we know about through various leaks, including, most recently, the phone’s entire user manual. Don’t expect any exciting hardware, as the “Z” range is solely about providing Tizen with a cheap mobile base. (Samsung’s aim is to have the OS on 10 million smartphones by the end of the year.) This means the as-yet-unannounced Z4 will reportedly have 1GB of RAM, 8GB internal storage, a 5-inch HD AMOLED screen, dual SIM support, 4G LTE, and a 2,050 mAh battery. The big new feature (if you want to call it that) will be an LED flash for the front-facing camera, and the handset will most likely look similar to its predecessors (such as the Z3, pictured above).
However, the Z4 will also run Tizen 3.0, and as the developer’s notes for the latest version of the OS show, the software is getting some pretty interesting new features. It now supports Khronos’ new graphics API Vulkan, which should provide a boost to mobile gaming; and the open-source web runtime Crosswalk, which should make for a smoother internet browsing experience. Version 3.0 also adds support for 64-bit Intel and ARM CPUs; multiple users on a single device (take that iOS); and voice control via S Voice. Of course, not all of these features will be available on the Z4, but the handset will be the first to feel at least some of these benefits (Vulkan being the big one).
It’s also worth noting that Samsung seems to be taking security on Tizen a bit more seriously. A report published last month found that the OS (which also runs on smartwatches, TVs, and other IoT gadgets) was home to at least 40 never-before-seen exploits, with one security researcher describing the software as ”the worst code I’ve ever seen.” In the release notes for Tizen 3.0, Samsung says it’s making a number of major changes to the software at kernel level, although it’s unlikely they’ll offer a quick fix to Tizen’s security problems.
All in all, it’s good to see Samsung making useful improvements to Tizen, but we shouldn’t forget that the mobile version of the software still lags behind Android and iOS on things like basic usability and apps. Still, onwards and upwards Tizen; onwards and upwards.