One of the most common rumors in the smartphone industry has been revolving constantly around Amazon, and whether or not their first smartphone was coming soon. For years it’s been the one device that’s almost certainly been right around the corner, and yet never officially announced. For the fans of Amazon’s services and products, though, the wait has finally come to an end, as the company has officially announced their very first smartphone.
Amazon’s decided against adding their first smartphone into the Kindle family, for whatever reason, and has opted to call their device the Fire phone. Many of the rumors and leaks regarding the handset panned out, and one of the biggest focuses for Amazon is what they’re calling “Dynamic Perspective.” This new feature will let you tilt the phone to access elements of the user interface, as well as view more details in particular applications. The elements in the interface react to one another, so if you’re trying to view something in the bottom corner of a map, you’ll simply have to tilt the phone in the right direction to see it, rather than try to scroll around with your finger on the display.
While on stage, Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, showed off the feature in action. In truth, this isn’t the first time that we’ve seen something like this, where tilting the phone reveals more information or accesses certain UI elements, but if the Fire phone can work as well as it did on stage in the real world, well, Amazon may have found the sweet spot.
One of the other standout features for the Fire phone is what Amazon calls Firefly. It’s a service that, like many other ways Amazon gets you to buy things, is designed to make purchasing products easier. At face value, Firefly works to identify what something is. By accessing the application, the phone will use the back-side camera and let you identify what a book, a CD, a QR code, or plenty of other products and then give you the ability to buy it right then and there. It even works for music — so basically like Shazam, with the bonus option of purchasing what you’re listening to.
Now, as for the device itself. Amazon made it a point to talk about their attention to detail. That goes down all the way to the injection-molded steel connectors, and the aluminum buttons along the edges. The display is an HD IPS panel, measured at 4.7-inches. Under the hood, you’ll find a quad-core 2.2GHz processor, 2GB of RAM and Adreno 330 graphics. There’s a 13-megapixel camera on the back, which boasts a f/2.0 five element lens, and optical image stabilization. The back of the handset is glass and you’ll find a dedicated physical camera button on the side as well.
There’s unlimited photo storage, too, thanks to Amazon Cloud Drive.
Amazon is bringing over the MayDay service, which launched on their Kindle HDX tablets. It’ll give you access to a MayDay rep, which is on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The rep will help you figure out certain aspects of your phone, from turning on or off features, to whatever else you may need, by activating a video chat with you. The rep will also be able to access your device if you need it, to show you how to do things. The MayDay service is free, and it will work over Wi-Fi or 3G/4G networks.
The home screen is a hybrid of widgets and the carousel that Amazon utilizes on their tablet devices. You’ll be able to spin the carousel to access specific applications when you want them, and under each “hero icon” you’ll find a widget that shows you a preview of whatever’s in that particular app. So you can see previews of individual email messages, texts, or even certain elements of third-party apps.
As far as a release goes, the Fire phone should be available in mid-July, and it’ll start at $199.99 for the 32GB version, with a new, two-year contract. The 64GB model will cost you $299.99, also with the new, two-year contract. As was rumored, the Fire phone will be an AT&T-exclusive. It will start at $650 without a contract, if you want to go that route. It also comes with a year’s worth of Prime for free, if that can sway your vote any. It’s officially posted on Amazon’s site now.