With the Tizen based Z2 Samsung is channeling Nokia’s Asha

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Think about it. In India while the smartphone market is growing thick and fast, there remains a massive market which is still dependent on feature phones. This is the sub Rs 5,000 market basically. And most Android smartphones, which cost below that price barrier are essentially all Android smartphones are ghastly to say the least. Former Android director, Hugo Barra, who is also the current global VP for Xiaomi also told me this fact a couple of years ago. He went on to say, it would be very difficult to create a good Android phone for less than Rs 5,000.

It looks like Samsung has paid heed to this advice as its new smartphone; the Z2 isn’t based on Android, but rather its own Tizen OS. Tizen based smartphones have actually been in the market for a year or so and appropriately they done quite well because of the differentiators and fluidity of experience Samsung has managed to provide, even with modest specifications in terms of hardware.

This is a philosophy that Nokia tried to pursue in India with the Asha 501 smart-feature phone back in 2013. That plan worked for sometime till Android phones at its price got better and blitzkreiged it out of the face of the planet.

However, at Rs 4,590, this new Z2 boasts an impressive kit. It has 4G, a nice 4.5-inch screen, a good build for the price and well, an interface that resembles what Samsung has on its Android phones. It comes with tweaks for the Indian market to boot. There’s the S-bike mode that comes from the Galaxy J line of smartphones, there’s a money transfer gateway which allows people to transfer up to Rs 5,000 without even Internet connectivity and an offline maps mode.

Make no mistake, this Tizen just doesn’t look and feel like a smartphone OS, but it is a smartphone OS, which may not be the most attractive one, but rather intuitive in operation once you get the hang of it.

Samsung might be channeling what Nokians thought back 3 years ago, but it is doing it in a better way. It has also tied up with Reliance Jio for not only blazing fast 4G speeds but also a number of apps which range from a video streaming services to audio streaming services.

In the short while I tested the phone, it felt responsive and had an impressive screen. This phone will not compete with similarly priced Android phones on specification or hardware chops. However, it will compete with them on experience – or rather the frugality of it. It also comes with the basic set of applications that you’d want to use – WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, PayTM, Flipkart, YouTube and even Asphalt are all available, but don’t expect an Android like library.

The key focus is on basic tasks; for things that most people do on a day-to-day basis, it shows immense potential. And at Rs 4,590, it gets the price right and likewise its availability on both offline and online channels makes this a phone that most people can actually buy.

This is the Asha Nokia strived to make a couple of years ago but crashed and failed. Thankfully, this Z2 shows incredible potential. If only Samsung can bring that price further down – this could turn into the thing most Indians in rural India use.

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With the Tizen based Z2 Samsung is channeling Nokia’s Asha