It might surprise you to find out that most of the TV’s in my house are Samsung TV’s running Tizen OS – even though I run an Android TV website!
I’ve always loved Samsung’s picture quality, even more than my Sony Bravia Android TV. Unfortunately, Samsung doesn’t make any televisions that run Android TV. They all run their proprietary Tizen TV OS.
Picture quality is still the most important thing to look for when buying a new television. But, unless you’re hooking up another streaming device to it, you’re going to have to live with the operating system for several years.
So I thought it would be great to cover the differences between Samsung’s Tizen TV interface and Android TV. I’ll give a brief overview of each operating system, and then compare them in terms of features, available apps, gaming and updates.
By the end of this article, you’ll have a good idea what the differences are between them. Then you can make a better decision when you’re looking to buy your next TV.
What is a Tizen TV?
Tizen wasn’t the first operating system that Samsung used on their smart TV’s. In fact, they’ve only been making “Smart TV’s powered by Tizen” since 2015. Since then, it’s had a few minor tweaks. However, the version on their televisions today looks remarkably similar to the version they launched with.
Tizen TV is a Linux based, open-source operating system that powers Samsung mobile devices, smart TV’s and digital signage devices.
I really like Tizen TV’s clean, bright menu interface. The image below is from my 2017 Samsung UN40MU6300F. Newer models changed their color-scheme to a darker theme, but the basic layout has stayed the same.
The main menu runs along the bottom of the screen, with another row of contextual options just above it. Overall, about 40% of the screen is used for the menus.
Tizen TV is definitely streamlined for TV use. Like most modern streaming devices, you can configure a ‘favorites’ row for all of your most popular apps. There’s another section for your recently used apps, so you can quickly switch back and forth between them.
Every Tizen TV comes with Samsung TV Plus which treats live TV just like any other app. It aggregates over 1,000 free streaming channels, including movies, sports and national news channels.
Samsung TV Plus has a built in Guide feature, like you’d expect. However, it really tries to bring live-TV into the streaming era by also suggesting additional content for you. It’s not personalized, so you won’t get creepy recommendations like you would from Google TV.
What is an Android TV?
By contrast, Android TV is set-up more like a streaming device than a smart TV. If I had one big complaint about Android TV, is that if you try to use it as a “normal TV”, it seems to take longer to get to where you want to go.
If you’ve used the NVIDIA Shield TV or Google Chromecast, then you’ll feel right at home with the Android TV interface. However, you’ll see a few important differences between if you buy a television that has Android TV natively installed on it, like my Sony Bravia XBR-55X850D.
Like Samsung’s Tizen TV, Live TV is treated just like any other app on Android TV, but I don’t think that it’s implemented as well.
For example, Sony includes a Live TV app on their favorites row, and on the TV Channel – both of which are customizable by the user. Find out more in my guide on how to customize your Android TV home screen here.
Similarly, TV settings are a bit more clunky than on the Tizen TV. They’re found in the same Settings menu as the rest of the settings, but it’s not as intuitive.
The benefit to this extra complexity is a truly stellar streaming experience.
Android TV is obviously based on Android, but it’s got several notable differences to the pure Android that runs on your smartphone. That means you have literally hundreds of thousands of apps that you can install on your Android TV.
There are native Android TV apps that you can install right from the Google Play Store. Plus, you also have the ability to sideload native Android apps on your TV.
Tizen vs Android TV: Features
Keeping with the theme of being a super-simple TV experience, Tizen TV’s automatically detect devices that you hook up to it. In my case, it quickly found my Denon receiver, my Western Digital network storage and the Amazon FireStick 4K that I happened to be testing at the time.
Everything was configured automatically, with no additional work needed from me.
Occasionally there’s a device that can’t be automatically configured. When that happens, Tizen TV includes a graphic Connection Guide that walks you through how to connect different devices like game consoles, mobile devices, external storage and audio receivers or soundbars, all form the on-screen menus.
Switching between inputs on Samsung Tizen TV’s is much easier than on my Sony Android TV, too.
One other nice benefit to Tizen TV’s is that Samsung includes a built-in web browser, something seriously lacking in Android TV devices.
Tizen TV’s have several different options when it comes to virtual assistants. Google Assistant, Alexa and Bixby are found on newer models of Samsung Tizen TV’s. There’s even rumors that Samsung’s new ‘Sam’ assistant will make her way to TV screens.
Since Google doesn’t necessarily play well with others, Android TV will, obviously, only have Google Assistant.
Tizen vs Android TV: Apps
Tizen TV has similar look & feel to Android TV’s Google Play Store, complete with ads at the top. That’s bad news if you’re hoping that ditching Google will help you eliminate ads from your TV.
On the plus side, that makes it really easy to navigate the Tizen TV app store. Everything is intuitively laid out on the screen and grouped into categories with a “Watch for Free” section (free streaming services, “Editor’s Choice” and “What’s New” sections.
Downloading and installing apps is incredibly easy. You’ve got the same “one-click” installation that you get from Android TV. There’s even a detail screen for every app, in case you want to find out a little more before you install it.
Unlike the Google Play Store, there are a very limited number of apps. None of them are paid apps, which is a plus.
Here’s the bad part. Since Tizen TV is based on Linux, you can’t install Android apps on your Tizen TV. Worse yet, there’s no way to sideload additional apps on your TV. You’re stuck with whatever Samsung gives you out of the box, or can install via a firmware update.
Even with the limited number of apps, you’ll find yourself monitoring available your remaining storage space more often on your Tizen TV than on Android TV. My Samsung TV only had 800 MB of storage space dedicated for apps – a fraction of the available space on most Android TV’s.
That said, even though there are a limited number of apps, it’s more than enough for most streaming users.
Tizen vs Android TV: Firmware Updates
I was really pleased with how easy it was to update both my Sony and Samsung TV’s, so I’d consider this a tie.
Both Tizen and Android TV’s have automatic updates enabled by default. Usually they’ll perform the updates overnight if you’ve got them connected to your home network. If you prefer doing it manually, both systems have the option to install firmware through USB drive.
It’s worth noting that my 2017 Samsung MU6300 series TV, and my 2017 Sony Bravia X850E have received firmware updates in 2021 – four years after their release!
Tizen vs Android TV: Gaming
Let’s be clear: If you’re looking for a game console, Tizen TV is not the TV for you.
Sure, Tizen has gaming apps. My Samsung has 60 different games to choose from in the App Store. But they’re all lightweight, smartphone-type apps. What you’ll find are mostly side-scrollers or a retro throwback game.
There’s nothing that is overly resource-intensive, and unfortunately, no way to add additional games.
By contrast, Android TV has thousands of games available. These range from mobile-friendly games, to major releases like Asphalt 9 with amazing graphics and gamepad support.
If that’s not enough, you can also connect to services like Steam and NVIDIA GeForce Now to play triple-A games directly on your Android TV. More powerful Android TV devices like the NVIDIA Shield Pro can even connect to your PC to mirror games on your TV.
Which is Better: Tizen or Android TV?
So the question is: if you’re trying to decide between Tizen TV vs Android TV…which is better?
It all depends on what kind of TV experience you’re looking for.
Samsung TV’s have amazing screens. They look absolutely beautiful – especially if you’re playing 4K content. You’re limited to some of the more mainstream apps like YouTube, Crackle, Netflix and Disney+. I often find that the app I want isn’t compatible with Tizen. But, if all you want is a simple, easy-to-use streaming experience, Tizen TV OS is really tough to beat.
By contrast, Android TV is a much more robust operating system. Sure, it may be harder to use if all you want to do is watch live TV. However, it has literally hundreds of thousands of apps to choose from, including robust media centers like Plex and Kodi – which you can’t get on Tizen TV.
Remember, we’re just looking at the operating systems themselves.
It’s perfectly OK to use an Android TV device like the TiVo Stream 4K on a Samsung TV to get the best of both worlds. That’s what I do, and I highly recommend it!
Does Samsung have Android TV’s?
No. All Samsung TV’s run the Tizen OS, which is based on Linux, not Android.
Can you install Android apps on a Tizen TV?
Unfortunately not. Tizen OS isn’t compatible with Android or Android TV. You cannot install APK files on a Samsung Tizen TV.