Amazon's supposed smartphones: 3D flagship and budget model

Oh, the beloved Kindle Phone. We just can't stop hearing about you. It's been discussed for years, and if words straight out of Amazon's mouth are to be believed, the company has no smartphone plans in 2013. But that doesn't mean the company won't ever offer a smartphone. In fact, we have word there'll be two. 

According to TechCrunch, Amazon is developing two smartphones within its walls. The flagship model has 3D eye-tracking technology, the publication says, and it will use four cameras on each side of the device to track eye and head movements to give an impression the screen is 3D - when it isn't. Just as Apple does with iOS 7 wallpaper parallaxing, the flagship Kindle phone's 3D feature will be based off movement. 

No hardware specifics have been shared for the device, and it's not clear on which OS it will be powered. If we had to guess, the flagship Kindle phone will feature a similar forked version of Android like on the Kindle Fire line. We can't really see Amazon sticking with stock Android; it has to push its store content somehow. There's been internal testing for face unlock that will block out other people's faces and an image-recognition feature that lets users take a shot of any real-world object and match it to an Amazon product for purchase, according to TechCrunch. 

The publication adds confirmation to a Hacker News post that surfaced on the same day, naming several of the phone's features. It's reportedly codenamed "Smith" and won't be released until next year. "They wanted to have it launched already but had difficulties with both software and hardware, and then lots of key players left the company," the anonymous tipster wrote. 

Word of a 3D smartphone out of Amazon was first spread by The Wall Street Journal in May. The publication didn't provide details on pricing or availability, but said it was indeed being worked on at Amazon's Lab126 facility in Cupertino, California. 

Beyond the flagship model, a budget handset is also planned by the company. It won't feature any 3D aspects to keep down on cost. No key specifications have been offered, and we're still left wondering if it will be priced close to free as has been previously reported

Amazon first publicly acknowledged the idea of a smartphone on its behalf in September, when it said 2013 won't be the year it will release one (if it does). With 3D features, it appears Amazon is still looking for a way to differentiate itself in a crowded smartphone market. 

Update: Unwired View found that Amazon filed a few patent applications in 2008 describing its 3D user interface ideas. One example included a device with a camera on each corner, allowing for eye and head movement tracking. The UI would adjust elements based on viewing angle. Check out the patent images below. 



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