Rumors pointed to today’s big Amazon announcement being a new smartphone with a Nintendo 3DS-like glasses-less 3D display, and the rumors are true (at least some of them. The event is ongoing so we’re updating as we go..) They’ve introduced their own smartphone, the Amazon Fire Phone.
Amazon lead with the camera features of the phone, including seemingly beautiful low-light capabilities, a physical shutter button, and UNLIMITED-CLOUD STORAGE FOR PHOTOS. Sorry. Got excited there for a second. As someone who uses their phone as a camera more than an actual phone, that’s exciting news.
As for sound, the Fire Phone has dual stereo speakers, “premium” earbuds that promise to not tangle when not in use.
Circular polarizer, which may sound like a minor thing unless you’ve ever tried to look at a smartphone screen with polarized sunglasses on and realized you have to maintain a straight angle.
2:05pm - The Fire Phone seems to tie in nicely to anyone with an Amazon Prime membership, so it looks like they’re following in Apple’s footsteps of building a hardware ecosystem around content.
If you have Amazon devices and love the May Day feature to get instant support, you’ll be happy to know that feature will be available as well.
2:08pm - Browncoats rejoice! The Fire Phone has a “Firefly” feature, that seems to make showcasing a lot easier. Customers in a physical brick and mortar store can scan a barcode, or take a photo of a product and find it on Amazon to compare price and order – with free two-day shipping if you’re already a Prime member.
2:09pm - Firefly seems all about making it easier to buy physical things around you on Amazon. That includes songs, since it can listen and identify music like the Shazam app. If you’re the kind of person who makes impulsive Amazon purchases maybe this isn’t the best idea for you.
2:15pm - Firefly can scan and “read” text in photos you take. It lets users make calls to a phone number by taking a photo of that number written somewhere… which sure is a feature I guess?
There’s also a dedicated button for the Firefly app. That’s one for just Firefly, one for just the camera. It seems like Amazon is doubling down on physical buttons, which is the opposite of what most other phone makers are doing.
Third-party developers can also build apps around Firefly. The SDK is available now.
2:20pm - Bezos is talking about perspective in art, could be the big lead up to the 3D announcement?
2:26pm - Tilting the phone can zoom, pan around maps, and scroll through pages. Not sure that’s a better option than scrolling with one’s finger, but won’t rule it out without trying it.
2:30pm - To no one’s surprise, the Fire Phone has Kindle e-book integration.
2:34pm - They’re talking about the Amazon music app integration, which if you’ve already used on another smartphone may already know has a disappointingly limited library for Prime members.
2:36pm - Price is obviously going to be a big factor, but so far this seems like a good fit for heavy Amazon Prime users due for an upgrade, but I haven’t seen anything so far that’s likely to get anyone to switch phones or carriers.
2:40pm - The explanation of the 3D technology seems really interesting, but it’s tough to judge based just on images. Would really take a hands-on look. Is a 3D screen something you’re excited for on your phone?
2:50pm - Hoping for a cheap Amazon Fire Phone? Doesn’t look like you’re getting one:
I really doubt that’s the actual with contract price. We’ll have to wait until July 25th to get it.
2:52pm - The Verge is reporting the price for the 32GB version is going for $199 on AT&T (exclusively) with a two-year contract. So this isn’t a cheaper option to other smartphones, but with what we’ve seen so far, it looks like the advanced tech warrants it.
2:58pm - Dynamic Perspective is the official name of the 3D tech in the Fire Phone, and the video of it looks beautiful. Still worrisome to me as someone who gets migraines from 3D movies, but still cool looking.
And the Fire Phone is available to preorder today.
3:02pm - Looks like that pricing is official. $199 with contract. $649 unlocked, one-year Prime membership included, and the release date is July 25th.
3:06pm - So that’s that, Internet. The announcement is over. The Amazon Fire Phone seems to have lived up to and surpassed the rumors with a lot of really interesting features like their 3D Dynamic Perspective view. Is it exciting enough to win anyone over from their current brand loyalty?