Jun 18th, 2014

Amazon’s finally done it, folks — their first phone is officially here, and it’s called the Amazon Fire Phone. It’s a 4.7-inch HD smartphone that actually has quite a bit of oomph in terms of power.

Hardware and Specs

Beneath the hood is a 2.2GHz quad-core processor (Snapdragon 800, anyone?) and 2GB of RAM. Also of immediate noteworthy mention is a 13 megapixel camera that can hold its own in low-light photography situations up against phones like the iPhone 5S and the Samsung Galaxy S5.


Moving on to the build of this thing, Amazon has crafted the Fire Phone using a soft, rubberized coating atop a chassis that stays together with injection-molded steel connectors. The buttons (including a dedicated camera key) are made out of aluminum to give them that premium, lasting feel.

Amazon Prime, Software and Services

But with Amazon being Amazon, you know that hardware is just the tool for pushing software and services. You can expect the full Amazon experience from their tablets and even the Amazon Fire TV, including access to Amazon Instant Video (over 200,000 titles available for Instant Streaming if you have a Prime membership), Kindle, Whispersync, Comixology, Amazon MP3 and Music, and more.

fire phone

Something special Amazon’s added to the mix for this phone is free, unlimited photo storage (so all those great photos you’ll take won’t have to take up any space on your phone). Even the Mayday button makes its return, giving you access to live help from a technical support representative in under 15 seconds over 3G, 4G or WiFi.

Amazon Firefly

And then there’s Firefly, an app that can help you identify books, TV shows and movies, music, games, art and more at the press of a button. Think of it as SoundHound and Google Goggles mashed into one nice experience, except it’s capable of identifying a lot more multimedia than both of those services combined. Upon identifying whatever it is you are looking for, Amazon Fire Phone could load it up for you in your favorite app or suggest ways to check it out in further detail.

It even works with phone numbers and email addresses. Imagine walking up to a flier for a nearby concert and needing to get the phone number to purchase tickets. Instead of typing it in yourself, you could hit the Firefly button (the app is supposed to open up in just one second) and quickly snap a photo of the phone number. Even if the phone number isn’t complete (local businesses tend to omit the area code), Amazon’s semantics booster can figure it out by an algorithm that can automatically identify the area code and exchange number.

The most exciting part about Firefly will be its SDK. You as a user won’t care about how to use the SDK, of course, but you will care about what it allows developers to do. In just one day iHeartRadio was able to integrate Amazon Firefly into their app and make it compatible with Amazon’s database, so the next time you identify a song on the radio iHeartRadio’s app can automatically make note of it and pull up the song or related radio stations.

Dynamic Perspective (3D)

One of the big things we heard about ahead of launch was “3D.” Of course, the internet being the internet, many people went wild with what “3D” on the Amazon Fire Phone would be like.

We’re sad (or happy?) to say that it’s none of that. Dynamic Perspective is the “3D” feature we’ve been hearing about, and it doesn’t sound quite that great at first glance. Tilting your phone to the left, right, up or down will allow you to do several things. On a web page or within an app you can scroll through content simply by tilting the phone.

Fire phone sides

With a photo, you can see different perspectives (if the photo was adapted for the feature) by moving it left or right. The most impressive example was in Maps, where you can tilt the phone to see around the corner of a 3D building (you know, just in case that right turn you’re supposed to make isn’t quite as visible as it should be).

And thanks to some pretty amazing tech their engineers cooked up, it can also detect head movement without the phone moving at all. Tilting your head to the side could reveal the perspective you want just as tilting the phone would. Amazon ensures your head can always be seen by having four different front-facing cameras — one for each corner of the phone.

Not only does this prevent the camera from being blocked (unless you really, really want it to for some reason), but the infrared sensors embedded make it so all of this works quite well in low-light. It’s the perfect solution to a problem that really never needed solving (up until now, that is).

Amazon also talked about how much work and data collection went into ensuring their phones could detect actual heads. Millions of images from thousands of faces were used, apparently, and the phone’s ability to accurately detect the depth and size of a head makes it so that doing something like holding up a photo of someone’s head won’t quite trick the phone.

Just like Firefly, Amazon has built an SDK for developers to tap into this functionality and create apps that use it to its full advantage. Developers interested in learning more needn’t look much further than right here.

Pricing and Availability

In classic Amazon fashion you won’t have to wait long at all to grab this phone if you really want it — it’s sitting on their website right now available for pre-order in 32GB ($650) or 64GB ($750) options for AT&T. That’s a bit steep, but you can be sure AT&T will be offering the 32GB version for $0 down for $27 per month through AT&T Next, or $200 with a new two-year contract, once it launches July 25th.

So what are you thinking? How are you feeling? We want to know your thoughts so drop a comment below and let us know if this met, exceeded or fell short of your expectations. Don’t forget to meet us over at AndroidForums.com where we’re discussing Amazon’s first smartphone ever.

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