SEATTLE -- Amazon has introduced a new smartphone with audio and object recognition technology that seeks to make it easier for consumers to locate and purchase products and services from the nation’s largest e-commerce company.
The new Fire phone also adds such features as the ability to render images in 3-D.
The Fire phone doesn’t differ much from other smartphones on the market and shares many characteristics found in other Amazon devices. For instance, the phone will have X-Ray for supplemental content about movies and TV shows and Mayday for live tech support.
Amazon’s new Firefly feature allows users to take a photo of an object, such as a toaster or a soup can, and get more information about it, including a way to purchase it through Amazon. Many of the new features have been available elsewhere as separate apps. Sony, for instance, has a tool for getting information over the Internet by snapping a bar code or a landmark. Firefly goes further, though, by incorporating audio recognition.
"It goes back to the mission of Amazon, which is to sell you stuff," said Ramon Llamas of the research firm IDC. "It reduces the number of steps it takes to buy things on the phone."
The phone will have a screen measuring 4.7 inches diagonally. That’s smaller than leading Android phone, but larger than Apple’s iPhone. CEO Jeff Bezos calls the Fire’s size ideal for one-handed use.
The phone will be available July 25 in the U.S. exclusively through AT&T. People can start ordering it Wednesday. Prices are comparable to other leading high-end phones, but the Fire will have double the storage. It will cost $200 for a base model with 32 gigabytes and $300 for 64 gigabytes. Both require two-year service contracts. Without contracts, they will cost $650 and $750.
The phone will come with 12 months of Prime membership, which is normally $99 a year. Existing Prime members will get their term extended.