Amazon announces Fire Phone

At a press event today, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced the Fire Phone, Amazon’s first smartphone.

The Fire Phone will feature a 4.7” IPS LCD HD display, quad-core 2.2GHz processor, Adreno 330 graphics processor, and 2GB of RAM.

The Fire Phone also features a 13MP rear-facing camera, with f/2.0 five element lens and optical image stabilization. The body of the Fire Phone contains a dedicated camera shutter button, to launch the phone’s camera app. Amazon is also offering free unlimited photo storage to Fire Phone users via its Amazon Cloud Drive service.

The Fire Phone will be exclusive to AT&T for $199.99 on a two-year contract. Friend of the blog Al Sacco has pointed out that Fire Phone is also for sale on Amazon (duh), at $649 (32GB) or $749 (64GB) without contract, shipping July 25 with 12 months of Amazon Prime (or a 12 month discount if you are already a Prime subscriber. No word yet on Canadian carrier availability or if Amazon will ship to Canada, but so far it doesn’t look good.

In addition to photos, Amazon is also making video a priority for the Fire Phone. The Fire Phone will support Amazon’s Second Screen and X-Ray features, allowing you to ‘fling’ video from your phone to your Amazon TV, or view details on the video you’re watching, respectively. The Fire Phone also supports ASAP, designed to predict video you you might want to stream and then pre-cache it for speedy viewing.

Amazon Fire Phone

One amazing new service launching with the Fire Phone is ‘Firefly’, designed to auto-recognize what is seen through the Fire Phone’s camera lens. Firefly can recognize over 100 million items, including playing music or television shows. What is scanned in Firefly is saved in a history, which can be tapped for immediate purchase.

Amazon has released a 3rd party SDK for developers to build their software into Firefly. For example, the MyFitnessPal app will be able to provide nutritional information on the food you point at it.

Amazon Fire Phone Firefly

The Fire Phone is designed at an OS level to provide ‘Dynamic Perspective’ – essentially a 3D interface allowing you to view objects presented from all angles. Amazon demonstrated some beautiful looking lock screens, as well as a maps app with a 3D Empire State building.

The Fire Phone will utilize its accelerometer as a navigation tool, allowing you to tilt the Fire Phone to scroll through text, increase and reduce the size of presented images, or look around levels in video game platformers.

Amazon Fire Phone

Similar to Amazon’s tablets, the Fire Phone will feature a standard app carousel on the home screen. However, swiping through these apps will preview relevant information for each (i.e. recent emails while on the email app). Amazon is calling this process “active widgets underneath the hero icons.”

The Fire Phone also features four front-facing cameras in addition to the 13MP rear-facing camera. Fire Phone will use its front-facing cameras to know where the user’s head is in real time, at all times. Each of these front-facing camera features a 120 degree field of view to provide “Z-depth” (i.e., how far a face is away from the phone). The Fire Phone will use the best two images at any time from each camera. Each camera also features an infrared light, allowing for “good stereo images in any lighting.”

In addition to the FireFly SDK, Amazon has also released an SDK for developers to take advantage of Dynamic Perspective in their apps.

One neat feature within the Fire Phone’s OS is the ability to set a specific time for the phone to be silent. Perfect for when you’re about to sit down to a movie or a dinner date.