Amazon finally releases a smartphone: Will Fire Phone roast Apple or burn through Windows?

Amazon finally releases a smartphone: Will Fire Phone roast Apple or burn through Windows?

Online retail and technology giant Amazon has announced the release of its first smartphone, dubbed the Fire Phone, with key features including Dynamic Perspective and Firefly image recognition.

Dynamic Perspective is a 3D spatial-awareness feature that responds to the way a user holds, views, and moves their phone, and introduces a range of new motion gestures including auto-scroll, tilt, swivel and peek.

It is powered by four ultra-low power specialised cameras and four infrared light-emitting diodes (LEDs) built into the front-face of a camera, along with a dedicated custom processor.

The feature will allow users to move a character in a game by turning their head, tilt to review lyrics in Amazon’s music app or swivel their phone to reveal quick options.

Another key new feature of the device is Firefly, an image and object recognition system the company says can recognise 100 million items. The feature will automatically recognise phone numbers, email, web addresses, QR, or bar codes; identify 245,000 movies and TV show episodes; and pick up 35 million songs.

Tying into the company’s online shopping sites, users will also be able to photograph any one of around 70 million products sold by the company and Firefly will automatically present them with the same item in the Amazon store.

The smartphone will also act as a “second screen” for the company’s Amazon Fire TV set-top box, include a live video tech support service called Mayday and come with unlimited cloud storage of photos taken with Fire.

In terms of technical specifications, the device is based on a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 2.2 GHz processor. It runs a version of Android that uses Amazon’s Kindle app and download stores, as well as its online services, rather than Google’s.

It comes with global 4G/LTE connectivity, a 4.7-inch HD display, a 31-megapixel camera, 2 gigabytes of RAM and 32 or 64 gigabytes of storage.

For app developers, Amazon has released APIs for Dynamic Perspective, Firefly and its monetisation services.

The release comes after many years of rumours about its Lab 126 R&D facility working on a smartphone, with the company hinting at the release earlier this month and claiming its app store delivered the best developer returns in the industry earlier this week.

The Fire Phone joins the company’s Kindle Fire line of tablets and its Fire TV set top box, which the company unveiled in April. The company also offers its app store on BlackBerry 10 smartphones.

The new smartphone begins shipping in the US on July 25 through AT&T.


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