Amazon Unveils 3D Smartphone
Cheapest model will be $200 for 2-year contract
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted Jun 18, 2014 2:37 PM CDT
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos introduces the new Amazon Fire Phone, Wednesday, June 18, 2014, in Seattle.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

(Newser) – Amazon today unveiled its long-rumored, much-anticipated smartphone, which it's calling simply "Fire Phone." The phone's most attention-grabbing features include a unique 3D display and something called "Firefly," which allows the phone to identify objects, songs, and TV shows. Here are the details, as reported by Ars Technica, Gizmodo, the Washington Post, and MarketWatch:

  • 3D "Dynamic Perspective": The phone can create a glasses-free 3D effect. Four front-facing cameras will track users' heads and adjust the display as they move; that would allow you to look around and under various on-screen features. If you're looking at info overlayed on a map, for example, you could tilt the phone to look under that layer.
  • FireFly: The phone has the built-in capability to recognize millions of objects, songs, and even specific episodes of TV shows, using photos and sound. This can both give you information about them—like, say, which actors are in a show—and, of course, help you buy the item from Amazon. There's a dedicated button for FireFly on the phone, and developers will be able make apps using it.
  • Price: Based on an AT&T product page, the phone will start at $200 with a two-year contract for the 32GB model, or $300 for the 64GB.
  • Mayday: The phone will also boast Amazon's much-lauded on-screen tech support option Mayday. Push a button, and a specialist should appear on your phone in less than 10 seconds.
  • The Specs: The phone will have a 4.7-inch HD display, a quad-core 2.2GHz processor, and 2GB of RAM—all of which are respectable, though there are bigger and faster phones out there. It also has an impressive-sounding 13MP camera with an f/2.0 five element lens.
  • Reaction: As of about 3pm Eastern, Amazon's share price had risen 3% on the news. But the price is higher than rumored, Walt Mossberg notes (at one point people thought it might even be free), and AT&T exclusivity is a downside. Many Twitter commentators noted that FireFly seems like an awfully self-serving feature. Quartz's headline summed up the critique thusly: "Amazon launches a shopping machine and calls it a phone."

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Jun 29, 2014 2:55 AM CDT
I like amazon, no, I love amazon! I am so glad I can finaly buy a phone that makes it easier to buy from amazon. I can't wait for the drones to deliver it so my cat can swat at it and mark his territory.
Jun 19, 2014 8:44 AM CDT
The winning story about this is not 3D technology, but is a big-boy corporation that engages in heavy price competition getting into the cell-phone game. That is a good thing for cell-phone consumers, regardless of whether they buy this particular phone. But I am skeptical of the 3D angle. I'll occasionally splurge for my family on a 3D movie, but the artificial 3D experience actually makes a movie feel LESS realistic, not more realistic. Artificial 3D is a caricature of real 3D, which is more subtle than artificial 3D, and very consistent in it's experience. Artificial always feels "off" - and strongly so. As a novelty it can be fun, but the pleasure of novelty is in it's surprise and short-life. If artificial 3D, in movies and TV, is weakened to realistic 3D levels and ceased being the distraction that current exaggerated 3D is, I don't think most people would notice enough to care - especially on a tiny device like a cell-phone. On large scale images, if perfected and toned down to replicate realistic and not exaggerated 3D experiences, 3D would add something to video and images - but just a little, and not enough to make it worthwhile - perhaps not even noticeably so. I think realistic 3D technology will continue to continue to be unimportant (and not much of a sales point) until we develop perfectly realistic levels of detail definition in large images, perfect color levels, and motion fluidity (including adjusting that motion fluidity for how the human mind&eye blurs motion). But I don't think any 3D will matter beyond a temporary novelty effect in small-size image products like cell-phones. But it would be great if, one day, living in a crowded city, from your room you could be looking into the Amazon jungle, or upon the expansive, beautifully bleak plains of Central Asia. To experience that in a fully realistic way would be awesome. To see even a fully realistic 3D image on your phone - not so much.
Jun 19, 2014 7:39 AM CDT