An Amazon phone has been rumoured for years since the first Kindle had a 3g modem built into it and when the Android App store and the Kindle Fire tablet was launched it seemed to be just around the corner. The phone never quite emerged but we’ve had consistent leaks that it would use a number of cameras to provide a virtual 3d interface. Last week Amazon put out a video filled with people going “Woa!” at a device and moving their heads around. This evening we finally got to see what they were making a fuss about.
As anticipated Amazon is making a phone and its called the Fire Phone running their forked Android FireOS. Stylistically it looks like an iPhone with a rubber frame with glass on both sides. It has a 4.7″ screen and a quad core 2.2GHz processor. The main camera is 13MP with a decent f/2.0 lens and optical image stabilisation (and a hardware camera button) and it comes with free unlimited photo storage on the Amazon cloud.
The big draw is the front facing cameras. There are five of these (and infra-red emitters) and they are used to produce an effect called dynamic perspective. The cameras watch where your eyes are and adjust the screen to give you perspective into the phone. This obviously does not translate into this 2D environment of the web but press on site generally agreed it was impressive although hard to see the day to day use.
Sound wise there are dual stereo speakers and a clever looking tangle free set of headphones with a flat cable and magnetic earphones.
The Fire is very much a services phone – its designed to work with Amazon Prime. It works with Amazon Prime video and their new music services (at least in the US). It also is ‘optimised for reading’ with Kindle, Audible, Comixology and Whispersync all being pushed. It also includes Amazon’s MayDay Service that lets you get an Amazon customer service agent help you with your phone.
The big differentiator shown off is a showrooming service called Firefly. Take a picture of something in real life and it will recognise it and show you where and how to buy it on Amazon. This includes books, DVDs phone numbers, QR codes, CDs, bar codes and the like. It can also recognise songs and pull them up on Amazon Music and TV shows for Prime video. Finally it recognises art and can refer you to Wikipedia. Amazon claims it has over 100 million individual things in its database and Firefly can be launched by a dedicated button.
The Fire Phone will be available on AT&T in the US only at $199.99 on a two year contract. It will be released the 25th July and can be pre-ordered today. It will also include 12 months of Amazon Prime. There is no-news on when it will be available in the UK, but from past experience with the Fire Tablet and the Kindle makes it likely it will not be in the near future and probably not in this generation of phone.