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Geek Girl Report: Amazon Setting the Smartphone World on Fire, or Fizzle? A Quick Look At Amazon Fire Phone

David Ryder, Getty Images

When it comes to smartphones, there are really only two names out there: iPhone and Android. There have been plenty of other third-party companies trying to put out their own iPhone competitors, and while some have certainly been more successful than others, none of them have even come close to the ubiquity of Apple, or even Google’s handheld computers. Now, online retail giant Amazon is looking to throw their hat into the smartphone ring with their most ambitious device yet: the Amazon Fire Phone.

The Specs

The public got their first look at the Amazon Fire Phone on June 18th at the official launch event. And at least on the outside, it doesn’t look too different from your typical smartphone. The phone will boast a 4.7-inch screen with a 1280×720 resolution, and will be made with Gorilla Glass, The phone will also feature 2 cameras, a 13 megapixel (MP) camera on the back and a 2.1MP camera on the front. and will run Fire OS, which seems to be a slightly altered version of the Android OS. It’s not quite as “high-end” as Amazon was originally touting,

The Features

What’s really going to set Amazon Fire Phone apart from its competitors are its features. Namely two features: Firefly and Dynamic Perspective. First up is Firefly, a universal scanning app that uses both the built-in camera and Amazon’s huge database to identify various items, QR codes, bar codes, phone numbers and E-mails, music, pretty much anything. It can even recognize television shows and movies, right down to the time stamp, and bring up info on them with the internet Movie Database. These features aren’t all that new for smartphones, but this is the first time we’ve seen such an all-encompassing scanner as a primary feature on a smartphone. Amazon is obviously putting a lot of hope on Firefly being a success, going so far as to give it its own dedicated button right on the phone itself, and is one I look forward to trying out myself.

The second new feature is not an app, but a change in the interface. Dynamic Perspective is Amazon’s fancy term for creating true 3D images on the phone. In addition to the front-facing camera, there are four additional front cameras on each corner of the phone. These cameras work together to track head movements and adjusts the image to the user’s head position, resulting in a consistently 3D image from any perspective. (at least, in theory) Tilting the phone is also a part of the phone’s interface, and doing so can do a number of features: zoom in on maps, auto-scroll through features or pages of a book, and more. While both of these features are certainly impressive and look promising, it’s still to early to say if they’ll be enough to set Fire apart from iPhone and Android, much less put Fire on their level.

The Price

Amazon Fire Phone will hit the market on July 25th and will be exclusively on the AT&T network. The 32GB model will be available for $199, and the 64GB model will be available for $299, with purchase of a two-year contract. Pre-orders for the phone are now available through Amazon.

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