Here are two important questions consumers will have to address as they judge Amazon‘s just-unveiled Fire Phone — a high end smartphone that most notably offers no-glasses-needed 3D images (with a process called Dynamic Perspective) and sensors so users can control the screen with head and eye gestures. Will the battery be powerful enough to handle all of its features? And will the impressive array of photo taking , media consuming, and shopping features justify the price: $199 (32 GB storage) or $299 (64 GB) with a two-year contract with AT&T? (Early buyers can get 12 months of access to Amazon Prime.) Investors apparently believe the package is a winner: Amazon shares are up 2.8% — with the increase coming after CEO Jeff Bezos began to describe his new product.
The Fire Phone will come with near state-of-the-art specs for media: It has a 4.7-inch screen, quad-core 2.2.Ghz processor, and 2 GB of RAM. The phone has a 13 megapixel rear-facing camera with an f/2.0 lens, optical image stabilization, physical shutter button and unlimited photo storage on Amazon Cloud Drive. For audio the phone offers stereo speakers with Dolby Digital Plus, and ear buds with stay-flat cables. TV viewers can use Amazon’s Second Screen and X-Ray features to access info about what they’re viewing. Buyers will be able to access Amazon’s new Prime Music streams and downloads, mostly for older tracks — and not including Universal Music. And readers can access Amazon’s Whispersync feature, which gives users the ability to go back and forth between text and audio versions of their books.
One of the more intriguing features is Firefly — a visual recognition program with a dedicated button. It can scan bar codes, and identify songs and audio from TV shows. It also can identify phone numbers and instantly place calls, and bring up Wikipedia info about art work. Bezos says Firefly can recognize 100M items in “real world situations.”
But the phone likely will attract most attention for the Dynamic Perspective built around four specialized cameras and four infrared LEDs as well as a dedicated processor. They make it possible for users to scroll through text, turn book pages, and make other commands without having to touch the screen. People also can tilt the device to see different perspectives of an object.