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Amazon enters the smartphone market with the Fire Phone

fire phoneDuring a press event in Seattle last Wednesday, Amazon announced their long-rumored phone hardware. They’re keeping up with similar branding to their Kindle ebook reader and Kindle Fire tablets. Their new device is appropriately named the Fire Phone, perhaps in attempt to set the smartphone market ablaze.

The specs seem pretty standard fair for a modern Android phone. The phone is 8.9 mm thick, sporting a 4.7-inch Gorilla Glass 720p display. It runs on a quad-core 2.2 GHz processor, an Adreno 330 GPU and 2 GB of RAM.

What sets the Fire Phone apart from other phones is integration with Amazon’s exclusive services, such as Amazon Prime Video, Music, the Amazon App Store, X-Ray, and their Mayday live support service. You’ll also get free unlimited cloud storage for your photos.

Amazon is also introducing a new service called Firefly. The phone’s camera (one of its many cameras, as I’ll get to later) is able to recognize various items such as books, DVDs, CDs, URLs, bar codes and more. Once the camera detects an item, you’ll be able to purchase that item directly from Amazon. You can even use the phone’s microphone to listen to songs in a Shazam-like fashion and purchase them directly from Amazon’s MP3 store. It’s not only useful for selling products, but can also recognize things like street signs and art, bringing up useful information like Wikipedia articles and presumably maps. The service features such integration with the phone that there’s even a dedicated Firefly button on the device itself.

There’s one other little feature to debut with the Fire Phone, and that’s “Dynamic Perspective,” neat display gimmick in the form of a glassesless 3D interface.

Most phones have 2 cameras, but the Fire Phone has 6! Two of them are your standard front and rear-facing cameras, but Amazon’s Phone has 5 additional front-facing cameras for head-tracking 3D. Unlike Nintendo’s 3DS, the idea here is that moving your phone or head around will not break the 3D, as the cameras will assist the display in following your head movements, preserving depth. It’s a neat gimmick that’s probably there as an attempt to make the phone stand out in the already bloated Android market.

Speaking of Android, like Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets, the Fire Phone runs on Fire OS 3.5, modified version of Android tailored to work with Amazon services. Because of that, you still won’t find the Google Play Store on the device, and you’ll have to deal with Amazon’s own app store instead. You will, however, be able to change the interface from its Kindle Fire-style carousel grid to a more standard interface that more resembles Android.

You can pre-order the Amazon Fire Phone now, and the phone will ship on July 25. The phone comes in two configurations: 32 GB and 64 GB. The phone is exclusive to AT&T, and the 32 GB model with a contract is $199 and the 64 GB model is $299. You can also buy it directly from Amazon without a service plan, at $649 for the 32 GB one and $749 for 64 GB. A limited time introductory offer includes a free year of Amazon Prime.

By Alfredo Dizon, eParisExtra

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