Amazon’s first smartphone: what we know so far

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Amazon teaser-580-90

Amazon is about to add a third display type to their list of in-house products, and in doing so has gained quite a bit of attention recently. We know Amazon is up to something special, and although we don’t have all the pieces put together yet what we know so far paints an interesting picture.

For well over a year now, we’ve been hearing rumors of an Amazon smartphone. Something unique, Android based, and filled with Amazon goodies for Prime subscribers. The phone has apparently been delayed and tweaked so many times that is doesn’t even look and function like the original concepts that were whispered about way back when.

Amazon has invited what feels like the whole world to apply for a pass to an event in Seattle later this month to reveal this phone, and while they have done a great job so far keeping things under wraps, there’s plenty of details floating around.

NewAmazonphone

Amazon has exactly one mode when it comes to hardware, and it looks like their new phone is very much the same thing. All of Amazon’s hardware is flat, matte black with a sturdy industrial design. The leaked photos we’ve seen of this phone so far have all shown the device in a casing to mask its final design, but Amazon goofed a bit in their promo video and showed off the top of the phone to everyone.

You can see a power button, headphone jack, and what looks like a speaker grill in between the two. Given how much effort Amazon has put into including superior audio on their tablets, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see a matching speaker on the bottom of the phone so you get stereo audio when holding it in landscape view.

We can expect display quality, wireless radio performance, and battery life to all be big focuses for Amazon with this device, just as it has been with the Kindle Fire tablets. MIMO WiFi with 802.11ac and Bluetooth Low Energy on top of some excellent LTE support. No processor has been announced yet, but Amazon’s relationship with Qualcomm for the Snapdragon 600 in the Fire TV is sure to make a comeback for this device.

If Amazon plans to include some unique voice support for their hardware, the Snapdragon 801 or 805 seems like a logical direction for them to go. On the other hand, if the budget market is Amazon’s target then the Snapdragon 600 would be more than enough grunt for most things.

In the video Amazon included with their invite, the users interacting with the phone say things like “it moved with me” and you see one guy moving his head around back and forth to see something happen on the screen. What was originally assumed to be some kind of crazy 3D trick has now been revealed to be facial tracking software tied in to Amazon’s special UI.

Tech Crunch has revealed that Amazon is using OKAO Vision from a Japanese company named Omron Global. This technology is specifically designed to create stereoscopic effects on standard LCD screens by using multiple cameras to track the movement of whoever is holding the phone. This report claims that there will be four special cameras on the front of the phone and a 13mp shooter on the back, and that the special 3D effect is limited to select Amazon apps instead of the whole UI.

Amazon uses Android as a base for their operating system, but it functions a little differently than Android as you see it on most phones today. Amazon currently uses Android 4.2 with their own software on top. The Kindle Fire and Fire TV user interfaces don’t lend themselves well to running on a phone, so we can expect something new and interesting from Amazon when it comes to the homescreen, dialer, contact manager, etc.

There have been rumors that Amazon will create special deals on AT&T where Prime subscribers can use services like Amazon Instant Video for free on mobile networks, but so far there’s been no proof of that. If Amazon does include Instant Video support for this smartphone, it will only further enrage regular Android users who have wanted Instant Video support on their devices for so long.

Amazon has the ability to plaster their products on the homepage of Amazon.com, which is what they have done with every other Amazon-branded product sold so far. Amazon has a powerful platform to advertise, especially since they sell dozens of different unlocked smartphones on their website already. The company has demonstrated that they want to make a lot of noise with this presentation, and they have the ability to start selling later the same day and shipping within hours built right into their business model.

Here’s hoping the Amazon phone turns out to be something especially interesting, because if that is the case there could be a new third place contender in the smartphone space overnight.

 

 

 

 

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