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Amazon introduces the Fire Phone

Amazon introduces the Fire Phone

Wed 18 Jun 2014 5:55pm GMT / 1:55pm EDT / 10:55am PDT
MobileBusiness

Online retailer keeps the Fire name for its first ever smartphone - AT&T exclusive launches on July 25

Amazon

Amazon.com strives to be Earth's most customer-centric company where people can find and discover virtually...

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During a special event taking place today at Fremont Studios in Seattle, Amazon boss Jeff Bezos just unveiled his company's Fire Phone, a new smartphone that keeps the Fire branding Amazon's been using with Kindle Fire and the recent Fire TV product line. The phone uses a 4.7-inch display, with Gorilla Glass on both sides and it's powered by a quad-core 2.2GHz processor, Adreno 330 GPU and 2GB RAM.

Bezos said Amazon put a huge effort into the industrial design - it definitely seems like Amazon is aiming for the high-end smartphone market, as the Fire Phone has a rubberized frame, CNC aluminum buttons, polished button chamfers, and injection-molded steel connectors for a precise fit.

Moreover, Bezos pointed to how for most consumers, their phone is also their primary camera. Amazon isn't playing around when it comes to photography. Fire Phone has a 13MP rear-facing camera with f/2.0 lens and OIS (optical image stabilization). And Amazon is providing free, unlimited photo storage, which should make the phone quite appealing for avid photographers.

As for other features, Amazon of course is looking to leverage its complete ecosystem, and Bezos noted that Amazon will bring Fire TV features to the Fire Phone "ASAP" and that the phone will utilize Amazon Music. The hardware will play that music through dual stereo speakers with Dolby Digital Plus surround sound.

The Kindle Store will be included as well, and video will be pushed with features like Second Screen and X-Ray on the Fire Phone. So users can beam a video to any Miracast device (including the Fire TV).

Bezos went on to introduce a new feature called Firefly, which essentially uses the phone's camera to identify books, DVDs, phone numbers, QR codes, games, URLs, bar codes, etc. Fire Phone then finds the item in a database, where you can view details or purchase, making shopping potentially very easy - which is what Amazon wants, needless to say. Firefly can recognize over a hundred million items, boasted Bezos.

The next feature Amazon focused on is Fire Phone's 3D capabilities. Photos and maps can be viewed in 3D; a feature Amazon is calling Dynamic Perspective allows users to get the best view. The perspective changes as you move the phone around. This tech can also be used in a web browser or an e-book to scroll through a page.

Bezos also hyped up Amazon's Dynamic Perpsective for games. "You can imagine what the Dynamic Perspective tech does for gamers," he said, ignoring the Nintendo 3DS and how Nintendo has actually de-emphasized 3D on the system lately. He demonstrated a game called Tofu Fury, in which the players moves a tofu block around some spikes to get to the fortune kitty - the 3D effect enables players to determine the optimum route for the tofu.

Bezos explained that the Dynamic Perspective functionality is made possible by persistent head tracking of the user, and this occurs thanks to the Fire Phone's having four corner cameras, so that no matter how you hold the phone, it should be able to track you with at least two cameras. It even works in dark environments thanks to infrared technology included in the cameras.

For developers, Amazon said that SDKs for both the Dynamic Perspective and Firefly technologies will be available immediately. Interested devs can go to developer.amazon.com/firephone to check it out.

Nearing the end of the conference, Amazon did confirm what had been rumored: Fire Phone is exclusive to AT&T. AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega walked onto the stage to proclaim how addicting Firefly is and "I"m going to buy a whole lot more things now!" Indeed, that seems to be a primary reason for this phone's existence.

The Fire Phone can be pre-ordered today and ships on July 25 (you can see the full overview on Amazon's page). It'll be $199 (32GB model) with a two-year contract, or $27 per month on AT&T's Next plan. A 64GB model will be offered as well for $299. And in a nice bonus for Amazon enthusiasts, the company is including 12 months of Amazon Prime for free - existing Prime members will get the 12 months added onto their membership too.

Thanks to Engadget and Business Insider for their live blogging of the event.

10 Comments

Neil Young
Programmer

296 372 1.3
Popular Comment
"the Fire branding introduced with the recent Fire TV product line"

Surely introduced by the kindle fire?

Posted:3 months ago

#1

Kevin Strange
Developer Relations Account Manager

15 7 0.5
Consumers, Consumers, Consumers!!! :-)

Posted:3 months ago

#2

Thomas Dolby
Project Manager / Lead Programmer

334 283 0.8
The phone as a whole doesn't really interest me, but I would love to try out the 3D and Firefly technology. Those kind of features definitely could definitely lead to some cool uses in the future.

Posted:3 months ago

#3

Anthony Gowland
Lead Designer

186 606 3.3
Am I imagining it, or did the amazon iPhone app used to let you upload a picture and it'd attempt to work out what the item is and sell it to you?

Cool tech and obviously Amazon have the tech backend to make it work well. Not sure how useful it will be day to day unless you buy a lot of stuff, mind.

Posted:3 months ago

#4

James Brightman
Editor in Chief

227 270 1.2
@ Neil, I suppose you're right, but I guess the way I was thinking about it was when they put the word Fire first, so it was Fire TV and Fire Phone. It's not Fire Kindle. Anyway, thanks for heads up.

Posted:3 months ago

#5

Neil Young
Programmer

296 372 1.3
@James : OK, see what you mean now. Guess it depends how they market the two different devices, whether they sell this as a the phone version of the tablet or not.

Posted:3 months ago

#6

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,166 948 0.8
I'm a little concerned about the price, which I saw as a major draw for the Fire series of devices.

Posted:3 months ago

#7

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

1,020 1,467 1.4
Pricing is awful for low-end specs (by modern standards a 720p screen is ludicrous; only iPhones have screens that low res). The phone itself doesn't add any features to the Android baseline and removes quite a few (all the Google apps and the Google Play Store). All it really does is make it easier to buy crap from Amazon. So if the only thing you want to do with your phone is find ways to order stuff from Amazon, this is the phone for you! For everyone else, just get a real smartphone.

Posted:3 months ago

#8

Klaus Preisinger
Freelance Writing

1,098 1,061 1.0
Step 1: decide to do what everybody else is already doing.
Step 2: focus test some buzzwords
Step 3: Include something for the sake of having something unique, no matter if it makes sense. e.g. a 3D screen powered by a 2D camera.
Step 4: release product.

For a while now I have that sneaking suspicion that this decade will end up worse than the 80ies did.

Posted:3 months ago

#9

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