Amazon revealed their first smartphone today at a live event in Seattle. The device is Amazon’s first venture into the highly competitive market dominated by Apple and Samsung. Here’s what we know about the Amazon Fire phone from their elaborate event today.
The Amazon Fire Phone features an HD display designed to respond to user’s eye movements and is capable of displaying 3D images. Because Amazon already has a strong partnership with AT&T, their smartphone will be initially an AT&T exclusive. The price is set at $199.99 with a 2 year contract agreement. Pre-orders are already being accepted and the ship date has been set for July 25th. It’s still unclear if or when Amazon will sell their first smartphone on other networks. With the success of Kindle Fire tablets, the new smartphone will continue to use the company’s Fire operating system, which is a highly customized version of Google Android.
Like many other high-end Android phones, the Amazon phone sports a 1280×720 pixel 4.7-inch IPS display, a 2.2 quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, an Adreno 330 graphics processor, 2GB of RAM, and support for 4G LTE. The main rear camera is set to be 13Mp and the front-facing camera is 2.1Mp. Battery life seems to be a priority with 285 hours of standby time, and up to 22 hours of talk time.
The Amazon Fire phone may look like other smartphones, but the latest news shows a front-facing camera placed at each corner of the screen. These will track your eyes to monitor exactly where you’re looking at, adjusting the image on-screen to provide the user with a “3D” experience without using special glasses. The upcoming handset will utilize a unique combination of cameras, sensors, and software to dramatically change the way users interact with a smartphone. The phone will also to be able to automatically zoom into images as it moves closer to the user’s face and can manipulate images and text as a person tilts the phone. The rear-facing camera will be 13mp with a fast f/2 aperture lens. Video taken with the camera will be in 1080p HD definition.
Amazon Fire uses Dolby Digital Plus creating a virtual surround sound experience. Fire optimizes audio output depending on the media format whether it is watching a video or listening to music. A big surprise is the inclusion of tangle-free ear buds. That’s right folks, tangle-free ear buds! We don’t know if this claim is 100% true, we’ll just have to wait to get our hands on it and see. The ear buds have flat cables and magnetic buds that stick together.
Beyond 3D effects, Amazon’s new device will also enable an entirely new way for users to navigate apps and menus on the phone. The 3D screen includes a complete collection of gesture controls. By tilting the handset in different directions, without the user having to tap or touch anything, the smartphone’s interface will display additional information on the screen.
In the phone’s calendar and email apps where small icons are displayed with no labels, even a slight tilt of the device will reveal labels beneath each icon, informing the user of its function. If the user performs a tilt gesture after searching for a restaurant in the maps app, Yelp ratings will appear on top of the various results plotted on the map.
The new smartphone also includes a feature dubbed Firefly that allows its user to capture images of signs and real-life objects with text using the phone’s primary rear camera. The software automatically recognizes the text and converts it into a note using optical character recognition (OCR) and other technology. With the captured text, the software can translate text from a foreign language into English or read information on a business card and save it as a new contact entry. With Firefly, you can basically identify real life items and search for it on Amazon.com seamlessly. Firefly is so important; it has its own dedicated button on the phone!
Amazon definitely pulled out all the stops on their first phone. Let us know what you think of the Amazon Fire!