Amazon Unveils Fire, Its Long-Awaited SmartphoneBy: Chris Crum - June 18, 2014
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos just unveiled the company’s long-anticipated smartphone, and it’s called the Fire Phone. The device looks vaguely iPhone-esque, but should appeal to fans of Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets.
It uses Gorilla Glass 3 and a rubber frame with aluminum buttons. It has a 4.7″ IPS LCD HD display, optimized for on-handed use. Bezos says the phone has better outdoor viewing with “industry-leading” ultra-bright display with 590 nits as well as dynamic image contrast and circular polarizer.
The device has a quad-core 2.2 GHz processor, Adreno 330 graphics, and 2 GB of RAM. It has a 13MP rear-facing camera, f/2.0 five element lens, and optical image stabilization. Bezos compared a photo taken with the Fire phone to one taken by a Samsung Galaxy S5 and one with an iPhone 5S. Based on this, the difference is quite noticeable, but in the real world, who knows?
— Yahoo Tech (@YahooTech) June 18, 2014
The phone does give users instant access to the camera when the screen is off. According to Bezos, you can just press once to open the camera, and then again to shoot.
— Louz Wate (@LouzWate) June 18, 2014
It comes with unlimited photo storage on Amazon Cloud Drive, which is pretty nice.
The device has dual stereo speakers with stereo audio in landscape and virtual surround sound. It also comes with magnetic earbuds aimed at preventing tangling. They’re also ergonomic.
The phone supports Amazon’s Second Screen and X-Ray features. In other words, you can send video from your phone to your Fire TV device and get details about content you’re viewing. It also supports ASAP with predictive caching and personalization based on time of day.
Obviously the recently announced Prime Music service is supported as is Whispersync for Voice and the popular Mayday feature previously available on the tablets.
A feature called Firefly lets you point your camera at things and recognizes what it is – things like numbers, products, QR codes, URLs, etc. It keeps a history of the things you scan, and of course buy them from Amazon later if you like. It also has a Shazam-like feature that identifies songs, which you can also purchase. Interestingly, other apps can utilize the feature as well. iHeartRadio, for example, could create a new station. Likewise it can identify shows you’re watching. I even gives you Wikipedia info about some things. Bezos demoed this with a painting.
Apparently, Firefly recognizes over a hundred million items, and even has its own physical button on the phone – The Firefly Button (on the side).
— Re/code (@Recode) June 18, 2014
The company is releasing an SDK for Firefly.
After showing off Firefly, Bezos showed off the phone’s rumored 3D interface, which provides for some interesting lockscreens and visuals in the maps app. The feature is called “Dynamic Perspective”. The perspective changes as you move the phone, which seems pretty cool. In fact, tilting the phone appears to be a big part of interacting with the operating system, which may or may not be annoying.
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— Cindy Battye (@CindyBattye) June 18, 2014
It can apparently also be used in games to see around levels and whatnot. It apparently does all of this by knowing where the user’s head is. It utilizes four special cameras (two sets with 120-degree views) and infrared lights. You know, everything you’d want from a company has drones. I hope Elon Musk is keeping an eye on things over there too.
Dynamic Perspective has an SDK as well.
A big part of the phone’s experience is going to be based on the apps that are available for it, which is why earlier this week, Amazon shared some stats around that. It has 240,000 apps and games (which are also coming to BlackBerry’s new operating system). The Amazon Appstore’s selection nearly tripled year over year.
The device (32GB) is $199 with a two-year contract on AT&T. It’s also available through AT&T Next at zero down and $27 per month. Pre-orders start today, and it ships July 25th. 12 months of Prime are included with purchase (for a limited time).
Update: They just posted the press release if you want to see everything from the horse’s mouth.
Image via Twitter