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Everything you need to know about Amazon’s smartphone

Updated Jun 18th, 2014 2:25PM EDT
Amazon Fire Smartphone

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Amazon is about to unveil its first own-brand smartphone. Perhaps you’ve read about it. Maybe you’ve even seen it. And if you’ve done either, the odds are good whatever you’ve read or seen originated right here on BGR. We have reported a number of exclusive details surrounding the first Amazon phone, and we also gave the world its first look at the device. With Amazon seemingly set to unveil the phone during a press conference on Wednesday, now is the perfect time to take a look at all of the exclusive details we have reported over the past two months.

UPDATE: Amazon’s Fire Phone is now official — head over to this post for all the news as it breaks!

First and foremost, we showed Amazon’s smartphone to the world for the first time just over two months ago. The phone was protected by a shroud at the time, but no matter — the physical device isn’t terribly interesting to look at.

What is quite interesting, however, is the phone’s software.

As BGR exclusively reported, the first Amazon smartphone will run a heavily customized version of the Android operating system that will feature two main points of differentiation.

First, the phone will sport a user interface set apart from the competition by a number of 3D effects. Second, the phone will support a variety of motion gestures that allow the user to open menus and pull up additional information just by tilting the device.

Both of these key software features are enabled by internal sensors and four front-facing infrared cameras that track the position of the user’s head in relation to the phone’s screen.

Amazon’s phone is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, and it includes 2GB of RAM and a 4.7-inch 720p display.

The phone will also tout a feature that will automatically digitize text in photos of signs and other printed materials. This will allow the phone to perform various functions on the fly, such as translating text into another language or saving information on a business card to a new contact entry.

BGR has also learned that one of the phone’s top selling points will be an accompanying plan called “Prime Data.”

Unfortunately, details surrounding the plan remain a mystery, though more than one source was willing to speculate that Prime Data may allow users to stream Prime videos and music that will not count toward monthly data caps. We also reported that the handset could be an AT&T exclusive in the U.S., which was confirmed earlier today.

Even more important than what we know, in some cases, is what we do not know.

The retail price of the phone remains a mystery, but an aggressive price will be crucial to the phone’s success.

While the phone’s 3D effects and gesture controls are novel, we do not see them as a huge draw for prospective buyers that might convince them to purchase Amazon’s phone over a top rival like the iPhone or Galaxy S5. Instead, we’ll be looking for Amazon to use a low price point to attract interest, as it did with the first Kindle tablet.

Also unknown but crucial are Amazon’s marketing and distribution plans. Positioning this smartphone as a viable alternative to iPhones and Galaxy phones will be no easy task, and Amazon will need a solid presence online, at carrier stores and at big-box retailers like Best Buy.

Finally, the phone’s release date is unknown for the time being. Early information from our sources pointed to a late summer launch sometime around September, which could be tragically close to Apple’s next-generation iPhone 6 release date.

Most if not all of our remaining questions will be answered on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. EDT / 10:30 a.m. PDT when Amazon’s press conference is scheduled to begin. In the meantime, more details surrounding the items mentioned above can be found in our original reports:

This is Amazon’s smartphone

Beyond 3D: Inside Amazon’s smartphone

The Amazon smartphone’s secret weapon: Prime Data

Unmasked: The world’s first clear look at Amazon’s smartphone

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.