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Amazon held a splashy event in Seattle on Wednesday to introduce the Fire Phone.
The device, available exclusively on AT&T, has a 4.7-inch HD display and 2 gigabytes of memory. It comes with stereo speakers and a 13-megapixel camera, CEO Jeff Bezos announced to a crowd of Amazon customers, who could request an invite to the event, and journalists.
The phone, which is designed to integrate with many of Amazon’s services including apps for video and music, also comes with technology called Firefly. A button on the side of the phone activates Firefly, which uses the phone’s camera and speakers to recognize physical objects — including grocery products, books, DVDs, art, bar codes and QR codes — and audio including songs and TV shows. Firefly will even connect with Amazon to make a purchase. Amazon is making the Firefly technology available immediately for developers that want to create apps using the recognition software.
The Fire Phone also comes equipped with a 3D interface that Bezos said provides a new “dynamic perspective” to the mobile screen.
Speculation has been high that Amazon, which first branched out into making its own devices with the Kindle, would make a smartphone. The Seattle e-commerce giant further fueled rumors when it sent out an invitation with a video that showed people using an unseen new product.
Amazon has bolstered its slate of devices in recent months with the launch of the Fire TV, an over-the-top streaming media competitor to AppleTV and Roku.
AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega also took the stage in Seattle to share why he is a fan of the Fire Phone, pointing to the dynamic perspective and Firefly features. He also noted that the phone’s MayDay tech support service can hand off to AT&T support.
Preorders for the phone start today and devices begin shipping July 25. A 32GB phone costs $199.99 with a two-year contract or can be purchased with a Next plan for $27 a month. Without a contract the phone costs $649. A 64GB phone costs $100 more with or without a contract. All price tags currently include 12 months of Amazon Prime.
Amazon shares were trading up about $9.50, or nearly 3 percent, to more than $335 during midday trading on the Nasdaq immediately following the Fire Phone event.
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