With Android and iOS dominating the market, you’ll be hard pressed to find a good smartphone that runs on a different operating system. That’s precisely why I figured that some of you may be interested in some alternatives, so I decided to dig around a bit and see what I can find. As fate would have it, the Samsung Z1 was finally released a few days and it’s definitely an interesting choice considering that it’s the first smartphone running on the new Tizen operating system. The second pick is the tried-and-true Nokia Lumia 525, a Windows Phone-powered handset that’s still pretty popular despite the fact that it was launched almost a year ago. Before we get down to business I do need to mention that these two fall into the category of affordable smartphone, so if you were looking for some ridiculously expensive flagships to throw you money at, you’re out of luck I’m afraid.
Display and Design
You won’t find a huge display on any of these compact bad boys as they both sport 4-inch screens complete with 480 x 800 resolution and 223 pixel density. Compared to some of the 5.5-inch behemoths that are trending right now, both the Samsung Z1 and the Nokia Lumia 525 seem awfully small. That said, I find smaller phones to be more appealing, especially since the screen-to-body ratio on these two is just perfect. If you’re planning on choosing between the two based solely on the measurements I’m afraid that you will have a very difficult task on your hand considering how similar they are. The Samsung Z1 comes in at 120.4 x 63.2 x 9.7 mm while the Nokia Lumia 525 is very close behind with 119.9 x 64 x 9.9 mm. However, the Z1 is a bit lighter at only 112 grams compared to the Lumia 525 which weights 124 grams. Not a huge difference but still something to keep in mind.
As for the design, The Samsung Z1 doesn’t offer anything particularly innovative and I can’t say that I’m surprised. The company is merely testing the waters with its first Tizen offering in order to see how people react to it. At first glance, you might mistake this phone from one of Samsung’s many Android smartphones as it looks essentially identical to some of their older Galaxy models. You have a plastic body with a metallic frame, physical home button, and rounded edges for good measure. The speaker, cameras, power and volume buttons are also right where you’d expect them to be. The same can be said about the Nokia Lumia 525 as well, which is literally indistinguishable from its predecessor, the Lumia 525. Materials used here include plastic and polycarbonate while the screen comes with a layer scratch-resistant glass, just in case.
As mentioned, these two are affordable smartphones, which more often than not means that the specs will not be very impressive. That’s certainly the case here as well, although the hardware is powerful enough to get you through the day. The Samsung Z1 offers the Spreadtrum SC7727S chipset complete with dual-core Cortex-A7 processor clocked at 1.2 GHz, and Mali-400 GPU. As for the Nokia Lumia 525, we’re looking at a Qualcomm MSM8227 dual-core processor running at 1 GHz and Adreno 305 GPU. Elsewhere under the hood, it’s a little surprising to find only 768 MB of RAM and 4 GB of internal storage memory on the Samsung Z1. I know that Samsung didn’t want to go all out here, but I feel they could have done a little better than that. In any case, the Nokia Lumia 525 is a bit better in this department with 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage from the get-go. Worth noting is that both smartphones feature a microSD card slot that’s good for up to 64 GB of additional storage.
Camera-wise, we’re looking at the bare essentials in the form of a 3.15 MP unit with LED flash on the Samsung Z1 and a 5 MP shooter with autofocus on the Nokia Lumia 525. There aren’t a whole lot of features worth mentioning when it comes to the camera, but I do need to point out that the pictures you take with the Lumia 525 will have better resolution than the ones taken with the Z1. On the other hand, if you plan on taking selfies, you’re out of luck because the Nokia Lumia 525 does not sport a secondary camera. Granted, the Samsung Z1 will not be able to snap great looking selfies with its simple VGA secondary camera, but at least the option is there. Moving on to battery life, you’ll get between 11 and 17 hours of talk-time on the Nokia Lumia 525 depending on whether you’re using a 2G or 3G network. If you don’t plan on talking all the time though, the phone will last you about two full days of mixed use before you need to reach for the charger. The battery on the Samsung Z1 doesn’t last quite as long, but the device features an Ultra Battery Saving Mode that could definitely come in handy every now and then.
Software and Price
The Tizen operating system on the Samsung Z1 is very reminiscent of the TouchWiz user interface you may have already seen on a lot of the company’s newer Android phones. Not a whole lot of native apps to look at for now – mainly just the basic ones – but you can download and run a lot of third-party ones from the Tizen Store. Samsung is currently trying to bring more developers on board in order to create more native apps so if you do plan on buying this phone hang in there because more apps will be coming in the future. As for the Nokia Lumia 525, you have the Windows Phone 8 operating system that can be further upgraded to version 8.1 if you so desire. The latest Lumia Denim update has not been released for this model so you’ll have to make do with Lumia Cyan.
The Nokia Lumia 525 came with a price tag of $170 at launch, but you’ll now be able to find it at around $150 or even lower considering that it’s already a year old. As far as affordable smartphones go, it’s a bit expensive than some of the others, but then again, the same can be said about many other Windows Phone handsets as well. The Samsung Z1 on the other hand is quite cheap at only around 92 bucks or so. The catch here is that Samsung only launched the phone in India for now so you may have to wait a bit until it reaches the other markets. Pricing for when the device will eventually reach other countries has not been revealed, but it should sit at around $100 or your regional equivalent for the most part.
I think both the Nokia Lumia 525 and the Samsung Z1 are interesting alternatives if you want to check out smartphones that run on something else other than Android or iOS. The fact that they are both affordable certainly helps as you won’t have to spend a lot of money on them in order to see first hand what they have to offer. The Samsung Z1 doesn’t really bring anything new to the table except for the Tizen OS so it’s really worth it only if you want to see what Samsung can come up with in terms of software. The Nokia Lumia 525 is arguably a bit better overall, although it does feature a spicier price tag. Still, it’s worth considering if you’re looking for a good alternative to Android and iOS. Between these two I would say that the Lumia is the better smartphone, but the final choice is up to you.