Amazon is finally close to unveiling the first of several own-brand smartphones. After years of work the company has focussed its product on two things: Amazon products and services and a 3D interface – something that has not been seen in the past in a smartphone.
According to recent reports Amazon plans to enter the smartphone market with an own-branded handset. A report in The Wall Street Journal said that the company is likely to announce its cell phone in June and release it later in the year. A few key specs of the phone and the components likely to be used in the device was revealed in a research note to investors by an analyst.
BGR has obtained exclusive photos of a prototype of the unreleased device, giving the world its first look at Amazon’s hotly anticipated phone.
The device set to debut in the coming months will be a higher-end model that has been in development at Amazon for several years. Amazon is also working on an entry-level device that will feature lower-end specs and a very competitive retail price and it will be launched sometime after the premium hand set.
Sources said, Amazon’s first phone will be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, and it will also include 2GB of RAM. It will run a heavily customized version of Google’s Android operating system similar to the version that powers Amazon’s tablets.
Tthe phone’s display will measure 4.7 inches diagonally, making the handset’s screen a bit smaller than recent flagship offerings from Samsung and HTC. The handset also have comparatively low pixel density, featuring 720p HD resolution compared to 1080p HD resolution on many rival devices.
Apple’s upcoming iPhone 6 is also rumored to feature a 4.7-inch screen with Retina resolution that falls short of full HD.
It’s not clear exactly what Amazon plans to call its first phone.
The most novel aspect of Amazon’s upcoming smartphone is its 3D software interface and the hardware mechanism that enables it.
Our sources state that the new Amazon phone includes a total of six cameras.
The main rear camera is thought to feature a resolution of 13 megapixels, and the phone also includes a standard front-facing camera for video chats as well as Amazon’s Mayday customer service feature.
Beyond those two units, the device houses an additional four front-facing cameras that work with other sensors to facilitate the software’s 3D effects. One source tells us these four cameras, which are situated in each of the four corners on the face of the phone, are low-power infrared cameras.
The device’s extra cameras are used to track the position of the user’s face and eyes in relation to the phone’s display. This allows Amazon’s software to make constant adjustments to the positioning of on-screen elements, altering the perspective of visuals on the screen.
The result is a 3D experience without the need for 3D glasses or a parallax barrier in front the LCD panel like the solutions used by the Nintendo 3DS portable video game console and HTC’s EVO 3D smartphone from 2011.
We’re told there are several areas of the phone’s software that utilize Amazon’s glasses-free 3D effects.
Since the 3D interface is the phone’s biggest point of differentiation, Amazon has tried to use its new technology in as many areas as possible. In fact, right from the start on the lock screen, Amazon’s new phone will include several special wallpapers with perspectives that shift as the user tilts the phone from side to side as well as up and down.
Moving past the wallpapers, Amazon’s 3D effect will also apply to application icons and other core elements of the user interface. Several main apps will be compatible as well; for example, we’re told that moving the phone while using the maps application will change the view of various objects on the screen.
Another smart use for the phone’s 3D effects is across Amazon’s various stores, such as its book store, music store and the main Amazon digital market. By shifting the position of the phone, users are able to see three-dimensional product images at different angles to reveal surfaces that cannot be seen in 2D photos.
Amazon is also working to recruit big outside developers in an effort to have a number of key third-party apps available at launch that take advantage of the phone’s 3D interface. Amazon will make a set of APIs available to third parties and it will also assist them with development in other ways, we’re told.
Though there is no official word on the launch date, Amazon may be targeting an announcement in the next two to three months. The phone will initially be available only in the United States.