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Meet Amazon's 3D Display, Feature-rich Smartphone: The Fire Phone

By James Lu - on 19 Jun 2014, 3:30am

Meet Amazon's 3D Display, Feature-rich Smartphone: The Fire Phone

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos unveils the Fire Phone.

After weeks of speculation, Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, revealed the company's first smartphone, the Fire Phone, a 4.7-inch IPS LCD HD display smartphone with a rubberized frame, Gorilla Glass 3 front and rear panels, and aluminum anodized buttons. It is powered by a quad-core 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, with Adreno 330 graphics, 2GB RAM and comes with 32GB internal storage. It is running on Amazon's Android-based Fire OS.

The Fire Phone looks quite a lot like an iPhone.

The Fire Phone also has dual stereo Dolby speakers, and a 13MP rear camera with f/2.0 lens and optical image stabilization. The camera looks quite impressive, and the phone even has a dedicated camera button on its side: one press launches the camera app (even when the display is off), and a second press activates the shutter. Fire Phone users will also get unlimited storage for photos on Amazon cloud.

If you don't want to use the speakers, the Fire Phone will also be supplied with tangle-free, flat cable, magnetic, ergonomic ear buds.

Even the ear buds look suspiciously like Apple's EarPods.

Dynamic Perspective

One of the unique features of the Fire Phone is what Bezos calls "Dynamic Perspective". The phone actually has four front-facing cameras, although it only ever uses two of them at a time (the other two are back ups in case one is covered by your hand).

The Fire Phone has four front-facing cameras, but it will only use the best two at one time.

Dynamic Perspective uses the front-facing cameras to track your head - it even works in the dark thanks to an IR light - and change the phone's display depending on how you're looking at it. This can be used to give your phone's wallpaper a 3D depth effect (it looks quite similar to a Nintendo 3DS display) or for actively controlling features on the phone. For example, in a game Bezo's demonstrated, he tilted the screen to look at it from the side, and the perspective in the game changed too, letting him see around a corner. You can also tilt the screen to scroll through content, or browse a website.

The 3D effect lets you tilt the display to change perspective.

Bezos also showed how Dynamic Perspective can enhance Maps, with a 3D render of the Empire State Building that changed view everytime he tilted his phone. 

Maps pop out with 3D buildings.

Dynamic Perspective looks interesting but we're not sold on it as a killer feature just yet. Just like how 3D TVs failed to capture the interest of consumers, Dynamic Perspective looks a bit gimmicky at this point. We'll have to wait to see if Amazon can come up with a must-have app that utilizes it.

Amazon Services & Firefly

As an Amazon phone, the Fire Phone is obviously designed to work with Amazon's many services, many of which we've already seen on its Fire Tablets. The X-Ray app lets you view information about what you're watching, while the Second Screen function lets you send video from your phone to your TV. You also get Amazon Prime Music and Prime Video and for a limited time, every Fire Phone will come with a free 12 month Amazon Prime subscription.

X-Ray gives you extra information about whatever you're watching.

The most impressive new feature on the Fire Phone is Firefly, a tool that uses the phone's camera or microphone to recognize nearly everything the phone looks at. Bezos demonstrated Firefly by using the camera to take pictures of a DVD, detergent, a jar of nutella and more, and the phone almost immediately gave him information on what he was looking at and a link to let him buy it.

"It's a jar of Nutella! Here's a link so you can buy one on Amazon.com"

It even recognizes famous art. Bezos took a picture of Sergei Ivanovich Osipov's painting "Cornflowers" and the app popped up the Wikipedia entry for that painting. No option to buy it though.

Firefly also recognizes famous works of art.

It can listen too, play it a song and it will use the microphone to recognize it, bringing up a link to buy that song if you want. All of Firefly's computing is done in the Cloud so it works very quickly too.

And music - just like Shazam! (it also gives you a link to purchase the song if you want)

According to Bezos, Firefly can recognize over 100 million items. No word on whether it will work on foreign language items or songs though. Similar to when Siri was first announced, it will be interesting to see how Firefly handles foreign markets.

The Fire Phone will be available in the US on 25th July, exclusively on AT&T for $199 with a two-year contract. Local availability has not been announced yet, but stay tuned for further updates!

All Images Sourced From: The Verge