Amazon has launched its first smartphone, the Fire Phone, marking the internet retail giant’s attempt to wrestle control of the phone market from Samsung and Apple.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled the handset at a press event in Seattle on Wednesdsy night, ending weeks of speculation about the company’s mobile plans.
The firm has worked to differentiate the Fire Phone from competing handsets loading it with a number of custom hardware and software features, such as its “Dynamic Perspective” 3D display and custom Firefly services.
The 3D feature is driven by four custom cameras that line the Fire Phone’s 4.7in IPS LCD HD display. The technology creates the 3D effect by tracking the user’s iris and head movements using the four front cameras and adjusting displayed images accordingly.
Amazon said the feature works on a number of the phone’s services including maps, e-reader and the web browser.
The Firefly feature can be activated any time using a physical shortcut key on the Fire Phone’s side and grants users a variety of powers.
Firefly lets people use the Fire Phone’s camera to recognise and draw information from Amazon’s database on a number of things including books, DVDs, phone numbers, QR codes, CDs, URLS, famous artwork and barcodes. The feature can also use the Fire Phone’s microphone to access information on music or television shows as they are playing.
For business users Firefly also has contact building functions and can obtain information like phone numbers and email address from business cards, fliers and advertisements using the Fire Phone’s rear camera.
Amazon has worked to further improve the Fire Phone’s Dynamic Perspective 3D display and Firefly services by releasing software development kits (SDK) for third-party developers.
Outside of this the Fire Phone will run using a heavily customised version of Google’s Android 4.4 KitKat operating system, called Fire OS. Like the OS seen on Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets, the Fire Phone’s Fire OS pushes Amazon’s Video and Music, Kindle Store and Newstand to the front of the user interface.
Amazon claims the Fire Phone is “built to last” and has designed it to feature a rubber frame, Gorilla glass front and aluminum anodised buttons.
From a hardware perspective the Fire Phone is also fairly impressive and will be powered by an unspecified quad-core 2.2GHz Qualcomm processor with 2GB of RAM.
Amazon listed the Fire Phone’s 13MP rear camera with an F/2.0 lens and optical imaging stablisation (OIS) as another key selling point, claiming it will outperform competing top-end handsets, like the iPhone 5S and Galaxy S5.
The camera will also feature an always on service that lets the user capture an image, even when the Fire Phone is asleep, simply by tapping twice on the shutter button.
As an added incentive, Amazon is offering Unlimited Amazon Cloud Drive storage and 12 months free Prime membership to Fire Phone buyers.
The Amazon Fire is set for release in the US on 25 July with prices starting at $200. There is currently no word on when and if it will be released in the UK.