Amazon Unveils $200 'Fire' Smartphone

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Wednesday unveiled a $200 smartphone he hopes will stand out in a crowded field.

The new "Fire" has the ability to recognize music and TV shows and a screen capable of showing 3-D images -- traits that, along with a competitive price tag, are aimed at taking on industry heavyweights Apple and Samsung Electronics. 

Bezos, in a rare media appearance, demonstrated the three-dimensional display features on the 4.7-inch device, from depth perception in maps and pictures, and the ability to shift perspectives depending on how the user tilts the screen.

"What if there were a thousand artists standing by to redraw the picture every time you moved your head?" Bezos remarked to hundreds of Amazon customers, reporters and industry executives gathered in Seattle for the unveiling.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos shows off the new Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos shows off the new "Fire" smartphone at a news conference in Seattle, Washington on June 18, 2014. /Reuters

The tech-product review site CNET said the phone's "crazy set of infrared cameras that create 3-D-like phone navigation" could set it apart. CNET also noted the phone has a rubber frame for protection, Dolby Digital Plus virtual surround sound and a built-in universal scanning app.

The smartphone joins Amazon's "Fire" lineup of tablets and streaming devices. It represents the retail giant's attempt to extend its dominance of online commerce into mobile phones, which are increasingly being used to buy items and view video.

The phone will start at $199.99 for a 32-gigabyte storage version with a two-year contract on AT&T Inc.

Shares of Amazon climbed 2.5 percent to $333.67 in afternoon trade as Bezos expounded on the smartphone's features.

Some information for this report was provided by CNET.

VOA News / Jun. 19, 2014 08:01 KST