Amazon launches Fire phone with dynamic 3D perspective and object scanning
Lars Rehm | Published: Jun 18, 2014 at 20:48 UTC116
As expected Amazon has today launched its first smartphone, the Fire Phone, at an event in Seattle, Washington. Amazon wants to differentiate the new device from the competition with two new and unique features.
Dynamic Perspective is a 3D-user interface that changes the screen content based on where your face is in relation to the device. The Fire uses four cameras with a 120 degree viewing angle, one in each front corner, to track your eyes. Infrared lights ensure the feature is still working in darkness. Dynamic Perspective ties in with a range of tilt gestures that allow you to control the phone by moving it. For example, you can scroll inside the browser, a book or even a game by simply tilting the device.
The Fire Phone's second unique selling proposition is the Firefly feature. Firefly uses the phone's camera to recognize objects and then finds them in a database. For most physical products Firefly will give you the immediate option to purchase them on Amazon but when you point the camera at, for example, a painting the app will open its Wikipedia article. In addition Firefly can not only see but also listen. In a Shazam-like fashion it can identify music and TV shows which, of course, you'll be able to purchase straight from the device as well. Overall Firefly is capable of identifying 100 million items and we can only assume this number is going to increase in the future. For easy access Firefly even has its own button.
As you would expect from any Amazon device the Fire Phone integrates all the Amazon content services, such as Prime Video, Kindle reading app and the brand new Prime Music service. But Netflix, HBO Go, Hulu Plus and ESPN streaming video are all on board as well. In addition the phone can be used as a remote control for the Amazon TV streaming video box.
While those new features look exciting the hardware is, apart from the four front cameras, in line with the high-end offerings from other manufacturers. The fire is powered by a quad-core 2.2GHz processor, Adreno 330 graphics and 2GB of RAM. The 4.7-inch IPS LCD display offers a 720p resolution and displays 590 nits of brightness. It also has a circular polarizer for better outside viewing with sunglasses.
The whole thing is wrapped up in a body with a rubber frame and Gorilla Glass 3 at front and back. Buttons are made from aluminum and, together with the other materials, give the Fire Phone a premium look and feel.
The camera specification sounds promising, too. A 13MP sensor is combined with a fast F2.0 lens with five elements and an optical image stabilization system. No information was given on sensor size, so we have to assume the Fire Phone uses a standard 1/3-inch sensor. Mobile photographers will also appreciate the dedicated shutter button and unlimited photo storage on Amazon's cloud drive.
We hope to get our hands on a production model soon to test the new features and see how well they work in everyday usage. The 32GB model of Amazon's Fire phone is US$199 with a two-year contract on AT&T. The 64GB model will set you back $299. In both cases that includes a 12-month subscription to Amazon Prime which is currently worth $99. The phone is also available off-contract in which case you'll have to invest $649 in the 32GB and $749 in the 64GB model. Pre-order starts today and the phones are expected to ship on July 25th.