Everything You Need To Know About Amazon’s New Smartphone

6/19/14 10:56AM EST

Image via Amazon

Image via Amazon

Remember when Amazon was an online bookstore? Of course, now that people do most of their reading digitally, it was only natural for what is now one of the world’s largest retailers to expand to pretty much any type of merchandise under the sun. But who knew 20 years ago that the fledgling website would one day compete with technology giants such as Apple and Samsung. Just in time for the company’s 20th anniversary in July, Amazon has opened sales of its first smartphone, the Fire.

Already a seller of its own apps, which work on Apple, Google and Microsoft devices, Amazon has been expected for some time to release its own smartphone. And the company may have outdone itself. Unveiled Wednesday, the Amazon Fire phone boasts unique features such as a screen that displays holographic images, hands-free scrolling and even software that recognizes items, such as merchandise and art, through its camera lens.

Impressed yet? Get ready to be more amazed… The Amazon Fire includes a never-before-seen feature called Firefly. With Firefly, users can scan just about any object—books, barcodes or paintings—and be presented with a host of options, depending on the nature of the scanned item. For example, if the Fire recognizes a product sold by Amazon, it will automatically give the user the option to buy the item. Plus, Firefly can “listen” to songs or television programs, identify them and offer the user the option to purchase a copy of the media. If Firefly scans a painting, it will display the artwork’s Wikipedia page.

Fire Phone puts everything you love about Amazon in the palm of your hand,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement.



The Fire’s 3-D Feature—another breakthrough in smartphone technology—displays images in holographic form without the need for 3-D glasses. How is this possible? The Fire is designed so whatever is displayed on the screen moves around as users move their eyes. For example, if users tilt their heads, they can peek “behind” items displayed in the “foreground” of the screen. Many remember the “parallax” feature introduced by Apple with iOS 7, but the Fire takes that feature one step further. While Apple’s feature adjusted an image as the orientation of the phone changed, the Amazon Fire uses four cameras to read the position of the user’s face; therefore, the image moves along with the user’s eyes, creating an even more realistic sensation of 3-D. Amazon also plans to release apps that are take advantage of the phone’s 3-D capabilities.

The Amazon Fire also includes:

  • A 4.7-inch screen with a 1280 x 720 resolution. Although it’s not quite as big as Samsung’s Galaxy S5 (at 5.1 inches), it’s larger than the iPhone’s 4-inch screen.
  • The Fire features a 13 megapixel rear-facing camera, as well as four 2.1 megapixel front-facing cameras. Comparably, the Galaxy S5 camera features 16 megapixels, while the newest iPhone camera boasts a mere 8 megapixels.
  • The Amazon Fire includes 2GB of RAM, equal to the Galaxy 5s and double that of the iPhone 5s.
  • The Fire also features a 2.2GHz Quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor. While the Galaxy also features a quad-core, the iPhone’s A7 processor has only two cores.
Image via Amazon

Image via Amazon

While the Amazon Fire phone is currently only available through AT&T stores, it’s priced to compete. A 32GB model will only set users back $199 if they sign a two-year contract. According to Amazon, that’s the same price as many other 16GB smartphones. Plus, anyone who purchases the Amazon Fire phone will receive a one-year’s subscription to Amazon Prime—that’s worth $100 by itself. With a signed contract, the 64GB model is only $100 more than the 32GB phone. The phone is also available with no service commitment for $649. Although the Fire is currently available through pre-sale purchase, it won’t actually be released until July 25.


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