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Samsung still has time for Tizen, but does anyone else? New Z2 phone will be the test

Samsung hasn’t given up on Tizen, its own mobile operating system made to compete with Google Android, and has released the Z2, the third phone running the software. On Tuesday, Samsung officially debuted the Z2 in India for the remarkably low price of $68. The phone is built on the Tizen operating system, which shares plenty of visual similarities with Android and iOS, as it presents icons spread across home pages ready for you to select.

It’s all customizable, and apps can be downloaded from the Samsung store. The phone doesn’t run Android apps, however, so you’ll be restricted to what’s available for Tizen. Samsung knows the selection isn’t massive, and is running a competition with a $185,000 prize fund to encourage developers to port existing apps over to the operating system.

Updated on 8-23-2016 by Lulu Chang: The Z2 officially launches in India for $68

The phone comes pre-loaded with “essential apps” as well as Samsung’s “Make for India” features, which include the Ultra Data Saving mode, S bike mode, and the new My Money Transfer. Buyers will also receive a complementary invitation to the Jio Preview Offer, which gives them free voice and data service for a trial period. They’ll also receive complementary access to premium Jio applications — My Jio, Jio on Demand, Jio Beats -which feature a wide selection of some of the latest movies, TV shows, and songs across multiple languages.

“Samsung Z2 makes 4G accessible and relevant to the unique needs of feature phone users and first time smartphone buyers,” said Manu Sharma, vice president of Samsung India Electronics’ Mobile Business. “It brings consumers a fast and affordable mobile internet experience that will democratize 4G usage in the country.”

Related: Read our review of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7

The Z2 stands apart from the two other Tizen phones available because it can connect to 4G LTE networks. An Ultra Data Saving mode should help you avoid spending too much on data by blocking background consumption and compressing data where possible, which Samsung says will help reduce data use by 40 percent. The Samsung Z2 is set for release in India, and other localized features include S Bike, a mode that tells callers when you’re riding so they can call back, but has the option to force the call through if it’s urgent. There’s also the My Money Transfer offline mobile banking app, and access to streaming music and video with Jio.

Samsung has used a 1.5GHz quad-core Spreadtrum processor with 1GB of RAM to power the Z2, and given it 8GB of internal memory and a MicroSD card slot. The screen is 4 inches in size with a 480 by 800 pixel resolution. A 5-megapixel camera is on the rear, with a VGA cam up front, and there’s a 1,500mAh battery keeping it all alive. The Z2 will come in gold, black, or red wine colors, and cost the equivalent of $66 when it goes on sale August 29.

It’s cheap and cheerful, but the Z2 faces some very stiff competition in India, not least from local manufacturers such as Micromax and Karbonn, but also from the likes of Xiaomi, and the growing number of Android One phones produced in conjunction with Google.

Article originally published 08-08-2016. Updated on 08-23-2016 by Andy Boxall: Rewritten with the Samsung Z2’s official launch details