5 things we think we know about Amazon's 3D smartphone

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After years, and years, and years of rumors, Amazon appears set to release its first smartphone, or so say the latest rumors. This time, however, the rumblings are inspired by a tease from Amazon itself, as well as months of reports about an Amazon smartphone with a 3D display.

Amazon recently announced via Twitter that it would hold a launch event on Wednesday, June 18th hosted by Amazon founder and chief, Jeff Bezos. It also included a YouTube video showing people being wowed by a device that is never seen on camera.

The video itself suggests that Amazon will launch some kind of gadget with a 3D display. Several of the people can be seen moving their head while engaged with the display, suggesting they are looking at a 3D image. One person goes so far as to say, "It moves with me."

Amazon's teaser-packed tweet also included a link to a landing page where anyone (customers, press, and developers) can sign-up to attend the event in person. The invite also includes a short questionnaire prospective attendees must fill out.

The landing page for the event includes an image that captures the upper edge of a smartphone/slate device (seen above), adding even more fuel to the smartphone rumors. Bloomberg is also reporting that Amazon intends to launch a smartphone on June 18.

While we won't know until we know, am Amazon smartphone unveiling does appear to be in the works for June 18. But what will Amazon's rumored device look like, and when will you be able to get your hands on one?

Here's a look at the latest reports.


The most interesting idea about Amazon's new smartphone is that it will have a 3D dipslay that won't require glasses to work. In May 2013, The Wall Street Journal said the phone would have hologram-like images that appear to float above the screen. The images would also shift and change perspective depending on how you move your head and eyes.

bgr a phone 1 Image: BGR

A purported leaked shot of a prototype of Amazon's 3D smartphone.

In April, BGR showed off purported images of a prototype Amazon handset and said the 3D effect would be worked into many aspects of the operating system. Amazon's various stores, for example, could use the feature to view 3D images of products in its book, music, and other retail sites. You could also use the feature for maps, and third-party developers would be encouraged to take advantage of the feature as well.

On its sign-up page for the event on June 18, Amazon appears to suggest that developers will have access to the phone's 3D capabilities. The questionnaire for developers asks applicants to describe innovative ways they have used gyroscopes, accelerometers, and other devices sensors. Presumably, the phone's 3D effect would require use of all these sensors to help contribute to the overall effect the display is supposed to have.

The questionnaire also asks developers if they are "interested in developing apps utilizing a new type of sensor."

Four cameras

To help the 3D image appear as if it is changing perspective, Amazon's expected smartphone will employ retina tracking technology using four cameras on the front of the device, according to the Journal and BGR.

BGR also adds that the cameras are believed to be infrared and will placed in the four corners of the front of the device.

Decent but not mind-blowing specs

Amazon's phone is said to have a 4.7-inch display with 720p resolution, 2GB RAM, a Qualcomm processor, and a 13 mega-pixel rear-facing camera. Most high-end smartphones are shooting for 1080p screens, but a lower-resolution 720p screen fits right in with Amazon's strategy of using slightly less powerful specs to keep costs down. There could also be technical reasons for keeping the phone on the lower end of high resolution displays such as to save on battery life.

Shipping this fall

Although the phone is expected to debut on June 18, the device isn't expected to ship until September, according to the WSJ, and will be available in the U.S. only at launch.

In the end, there can be more than one

Amazon's 3D phone is expected to be the first of two smartphones. The second one will be a lower-end device that will be introduced shortly after the flagship device expected on June 18.

Both phones are said to be based on Amazon's customized version of Android similar to the company's Kindle Fire tablets. 

It's less than two weeks until Amazon's launch event. In the meantime, we'll be watching with great interest to see what other tidbits of information pop up before then.

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