Amazon Dials Up The 'Fire Phone'

In the latest example of Amazon’s push to offer devices that encourage users to access its burgeoning content offerings, the online retailer has launched a new “Fire Phone” smartphone.

AT&T will be the exclusive carrier, offering 32GB version for $199.99 and a 64GB model for $299.99.

The device has a 4.7-inch HD screen; a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 2.2 GHz processor, 2GB of memory and a variety of features that Amazon is billing as breakthrough technologies. These include a feature Amazon calls “Dynamic Perspective” that uses a new sensor system to respond to the way users hold, view, and move the Fire Phone so that, for example, images move around as users move their heads.

It also includes a "Firefly" button that quickly recognizes a wide variety of things, such as printed web and email addresses, phone numbers, QR and bar codes, movies, music, and millions of products.

As expected, it is deeply integrated into Amazon services, with an eye towards boosting sales and usage of the company’s offerings. These include the Mayday button to give live video support; ASAP or Advanced Streaming and Prediction to predict movies and TV episodes users would like to watch; second screen applications that allow users to fling TV shows and movies from the phone to the Fire TV over-the-top box Amazon launched earlier this year; and free unlimited storage of photos taken with Fire.

Other features include Gorilla Glass 3 for the rear and front and aluminum buttons; global LTE connectivity; dual stereo speakers with Dolby Digital Plus for a virtual surround sound experience; 13MP rear-facing camera; a 5-element f/2.0 lens; and a 2.1MP front-facing camera.

Both front and rear cameras record 1080p HD video.

The phone is expected to ship on July 25.

"Fire Phone puts everything you love about Amazon in the palm of your hand--instant access to Amazon's vast content ecosystem and exclusive features like the Mayday button, ASAP, Second Screen, X-Ray, free unlimited photo storage, and more," said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO, in a statement. "The Firefly button lets you identify printed web and email addresses, phone numbers, QR and bar codes, artwork, and over 100 million items, including songs, movies, TV shows, and products--and take action in seconds. We invented a new sensor system called Dynamic Perspective that recognizes where a user's head is relative to the device--we use it to offer customers a more immersive experience, one-handed navigation, and gestures that actually work. And this is only the beginning--the most powerful inventions are the ones that empower others to unleash their creativity--that's why today we are launching the Dynamic Perspective SDK and the Firefly SDK--we can't wait to see how developers surprise us."