Amazon Fire Phone tracks your head, ropes you into Prime membership


— 3:21 PM on June 18, 2014

Surprise, surprise, Amazon introduced a phone at its much-hyped event this morning. As rumored, the Fire Phone is an AT&T exclusive and has some fancy 3D mojo going on. Amazon is already taking pre-orders for the handset, which starts at $199 with a two-year contract (and a year of free Prime membership to get you hooked on that sweet, sweet, free-shipping crack). Shipments are scheduled for July 25.

The handset features a 4.7", 1280x720 display with what Amazon calls Dynamic Perspective. In short, four cameras backed by infrared LEDs track your head at all times and arrange content on the screen accordingly. There's no Nintendo 3DS-style stereoscopic effect going on here—just a (much) more sophisticated version of the parallax effect you get on the iOS 7 home screen and custom Android wallpapers.

Now, Dynamic Perspective isn't just used for eye candy. It also acts as a navigation and input scheme. For example, Amazon says you can "peek to see detailed views of clothing, shoes, and more in the new Amazon Shopping app for Fire phone, or take on a character's viewpoint to see around corners and obstacles in games." Third-party app developers can implement Dynamic Perspective in their software by downloading the Fire Phone SDK, which is already out.

The Fire Phone's other marquee feature is Firefly, which is sort of like Google Goggles on steroids. Coupled with the phone's microphone and 13-megapixel camera, Firefly can interpret text and recognize movies, TV shows, and even music, Shazam-style. Naturally, users will be able to make purchases based on detected media. Amazon says Firefly has 70 million products in its database. Developers can also tap into this feature using the Fire Phone SDK.

Under the hood, the Fire Phone packs a 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor with four Krait CPU cores and an Adreno 330 GPU. There's 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage capacity (with a 64GB option), and a 2400-mAh battery good for up to 22 hours of talk time and 11 hours of video playback. The phone weighs 5.64 ounces, which makes it a bit heavier than the 4.59-ounce Nexus 5 and the 3.95-ounce iPhone 5S. See here for a full list of specs and dimensions.

The Dynamic Perspective stuff sounds nice, but honestly, I'm not sure I'd pay 200 bucks for an Amazon phone running what looks like a heavily modified version of Android. I'm not crazy about the Fire Phone's weight, either, and I suspect the AT&T exclusivity won't sit well with some potential buyers. Oh well. I guess we'll have to see how many of these things Amazon manages to sell.

Check out The Verge for full coverage of the Amazon press event and pictures of Jeff Bezos wearing glasses.

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