Amazon takes on Apple and Google with Fire phone
Amazon today unveiled the latest entrant to the smartphone race -- the Fire phone. The handset continues the Fire name that is more readily associated with Amazon's range of Android tablets, and it has a few tricks up its sleeve to make it stand out from the competition. A press event in Seattle brought to an end weeks of rumor and speculation as the phone, which features Dynamic Perspective that allows for maps and other images to be displayed in three dimensions, was revealed.
Run by four ultra-low power specialized cameras and four infrared LEDs, Dynamic Perspective has numerous uses. One application makes it possible for users to gain a different perspective on an image or object on screen by moving their heads. In games, a move of the head can be used to switch views, and there is scope for unique navigation options within apps. Some applications are slightly simpler, and mimic those found in other handsets such as Samsung's Galaxy range. For example, auto-scroll allows for easy reading of lengthy documents and web pages without the need for swiping.
Extending on the phone's name, and conjuring up images of Nathan Fillion in a TV series of the same name, the handset runs a service called Firefly. Hoping to trump Siri and Google Now, Firefly recognizes groceries, books, and songs, allowing for easy ordering from Amazon (but of course), as well as food labelling, paintings, and more, to enable users to find out more information with ease. "Firefly recognizes a hundred million different items in real-world situations", said Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon. The Firefly SDK, as well as the SDK for Dynamic Perspective are being made available so its likely capabilities will quickly extend in both of these areas.
In terms of specs, the Fire phone features a 4.7-inch screen powered by Adreno 330 graphics, a 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, and backed up by 2GB of RAM. Photography comes courtesy of a 13MP camera complete with an f2.0 lens. The front facing camera is just 2.1MP, but both are capable of capturing 1080p HD videos. Just like its tablet big brothers, Fire phone runs Android.
Taking on Google Drive and Apple's cloud storage, Amazon Fire phone owners will be able to take advantage of unlimited photo storage on Amazon Cloud Drive. If this is not enough of a draw, phones taken on contract include a 12-month Amazon Prime subscription, providing access to streaming music, movies and TV, and offering benefits such as faster shipping on Amazon orders.
But it is Amazon's existing infrastructure and set of services that could be the deal-breaker for buyers. Just like the Kindle Fire tablet range, the May Day button is available for when help is needed, and there's integration with Fire TV -- and other Miracast-enabled devices -- to allow for second-screening of videos. And of course Amazon's vast array of digital and physical goods are just a few taps away.
The Amazon Fire phone launches July 25 and will be available exclusively on AT&T. The 32GB model will cost $199 on a two-year contract, or starting at $27.09 per month. Double the storage to 64GB and you'll have to part with $299 on a two-year contract, or $31.25 per month. Pre-orders start now!