Amazon enters the smartphone ring

Amazon has thrown its hat into the smartphone ring. At an event in its hometown of Seattle, the online retailer unveiled Fire, the first smartphone it has ever designed.

In a marketplace that’s already crowded with the latest iPhones, Andriods and Blackberrys, Amazon has invested in two new technologies — Dynamic Perspective and Firefly — that make Fire a compelling product that won’t get lost in the mix.  

Dynamic Perspective uses four ultra-low power specialized cameras and four infrared LEDs built into the smartphone’s front face, a dedicated custom processor, sophisticated real-time computer vision algorithms, and a new high-performing and power-efficient graphics rendering engine. Customers will be able to read a long web page or a book without ever having to touch the screen thanks to auto-scroll. Tilt in Amazon Music shows song lyrics. Swivel instantly reveals quick actions. Peek in Maps shows layered information such as Yelp ratings and reviews.

Firefly combines Amazon’s deep catalog of physical and digital content with multiple image, text and audio recognition technologies to quickly identify web and email addresses, phone numbers, QR and bar codes, plus more than 100 million items, including movies, TV episodes, songs and products.

“Fire Phone puts everything you love about Amazon in the palm of your hand—instant access to Amazon’s vast content ecosystem and exclusive features like the Mayday button, ASAP, Second Screen, X-Ray, free unlimited photo storage, and more,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO. “The Firefly button lets you identify printed web and email addresses, phone numbers, QR and bar codes, artwork, and over 100 million items, including songs, movies, TV shows, and products — and take action in seconds. We invented a new sensor system called Dynamic Perspective that recognizes where a user’s head is relative to the device — we use it to offer customers a more immersive experience, one-handed navigation, and gestures that actually work. And this is only the beginning — the most powerful inventions are the ones that empower others to unleash their creativity — that’s why today we are launching the Dynamic Perspective SDK and the Firefly SDK — we can’t wait to see how developers surprise us.”

Amazon is also offering additional incentives to consumers who pre-order starting today the 4.7-inch, Android-based smartphone with a high-definition display, a quad-core 2.2 GHz processor, and a 13-megapixel camera. For a limited time, consumers who buy Fire will get 12 months of Amazon Prime free. Existing Prime members who purchase the smartphone will get an additional 12 months added to their account free.

The smartphone ships July 25 and is available exclusively on AT&T’s 4G LTE network. Fire with 32GB is available for $199 with a two-year contract — an extra 16GB of memory for the same price as many other premium smartphones, Amazon pointed out — or zero money down for as little as $27.09 a month from AT&T on Next 18. Fire is also available with 64GB for $299 with a two-year contract or starting at $31.25/month from AT&T on Next 18.



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