After years of rumors and speculation, Amazon has finally announced its very first smartphone, the aptly named Amazon Fire Phone. As you’d expect, the handset runs on Amazon’s Fire OS, the modified version of Android that is used for its other Fire products.
So how does the Fire Phone compare to other flagship devices of 2014? From a specs standpoint, the Amazon Fire Phone seems pretty solid, with a 2.2GHz Snapdragon CPU, 2GB RAM, an Adreno 330 GPU and an impressive sounding 13MP rear shooter with f/2.0 and OIS. There’s even a cool instant access button that lets you take photos even when the screen is off.
Other specs include a 4.7-inch IPS HD (720p likely) display with Gorilla Glass and dual stereo speakers. Turning to the design, the handset is rather attractive (at least based on first glance) and offers aluminum buttons with a glass back.
Software tricks: new Firefly mode and special 3D capabilities
Of course the real magic (or limitations, depending on your point of view) for Amazon devices come down to the software. As to be expected, the Fire Phone has plenty of neat tricks under the hood including familiar features such as Second Screen support, Prime streaming, Mayday (live tech support) and more.
In terms of new stuff, one of the signature features for the handset is Firefly, a service that basically uses your camera to identify items so you can learn more about them, or even purchase them. This also works with identifying music and movies, or even recognizing art and giving you Wikipedia information about it. Thanks to the SDK 3rd-party developers like MyFitnessPal can expand this to include nutrition information for scanned items and the list goes on.
As you have likely heard from the various leaks and rumors leading up to the Fire Phone announcements, the ‘killer’ feature for the phone is supposed to be its 3D capabilities, which don’t require glasses.While we still don’t have a ton of official details on how all this will work, Amazon’s phone does in fact utilize 3D tech (via 4 front-facing cams) within its Maps, camera, select games and more.
The feature is powered by “dynamic perspective”, which makes it possible for the phone to re-draw 3D images at 60 frames per second. The 3D effects go beyond apps as well, allowing you to move around the phone’s UI by moving your head/eyes. There’s also 3D lockscreens, the ability to use tilt controls in the web browser and the list goes on.
It remains debatable as to whether the 3D functions truly enhance the experience or are more of a gimmick. Amazon’s announcement event is still ongoing (as of time of this writing) so there is likely a few other software tricks up their sleeves.
So how much and when?
We have a feeling that unless someone finds an easy way to bring true Google Play support to this thing, most hardcore Android fans won’t be tempted by the Fire Phone– even if a few of tricks look pretty cool.
If you are at all interested in the Fire Phone, however, you’ll have to go through AT&T to get it. The handset will set folks back $199.99 with a two-year contract for the 32GB model, or $299 for 64GB space. You can even pre-order the handset starting today, though it won’t actually ship until July 25th.