The Amazing Amazon Fire Phone Camera?

Rumors have become fact, Amazon announces its first smartphone, the truly unique Fire. It’s in no way surprising that Amazon wants to sell stuff, therefore much of the phone’s technology is developed for this very purpose with quick identification of and access to products, music, movies, etc. Quite interesting is the phone’s advanced camera system with some solid innovations:

The Amazon Fire
The Amazon Fire
It’s no coincidence that Amazon announces the Fire with own Android OS right when Apple starts production of the iPhone 6, to be announced sometime this autumn. Because, honestly, this Fire packs some truly ingenious technology into the phone.

Active widgets, such as for email, let you look at last couple messages and take action without opening apps. Similar with camera, which includes recent photos. Spectacular is the 3D “Dynamic Perspective” — see for yourself on the Fire microsite. Apple must be green with envy, but too late to adjust iPhone 6 production.

What the Fire means for photographers? You get optical image stabilization, 1080p video and free unlimited photo storage in the cloud — quoting Amazon:

  • 13MP camera with optical image stabilization: Fire phone features a custom-tuned 13 megapixel camera system, with a fast five element wide aperture F2.0 lens for crisp, beautiful images. With optical image stabilization, Fire phone keeps the shutter open up to four times longer for stunning shots, even in low light conditions.
  • Stunning 1080p video: Capture all the action in stunning HD. Fire phone records in 1080p at 30 fps from both front and rear-facing cameras, for great-looking video whatever you want to shoot.
  • Never miss a moment: No more fumbling to take a photo. With Fire phone’s dedicated camera button, you can launch the camera in just about a second — even when the screen is off.
  • Free unlimited cloud storage: Get free, unlimited cloud storage for all photos taken with Fire phone (in full resolution). No more worrying about what to delete.
  • Automatic backup to Cloud Drive: Fire phone can automatically back up your photos and videos to Amazon Cloud Drive. Access anytime on Fire phone, other Amazon devices or Cloud Drive apps.
  • Panorama, lenticular and burst capture: Capture even the widest scene with the panorama setting, hold down the shutter button to capture a burst of shots in a fast-moving scene, or combine multiple images in lenticular mode.
  • Intelligent HDR: Fire phone automatically suggests when to turn on High Dynamic Range (HDR). HDR merges multiple exposures into a more detailed, vibrant image — even in back-lit conditions.
The Fire promises an advanced camera system.
The Fire promises an advanced camera system.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos promises an “incredibly natural” experience using the phone — part of this is the camera and related functions. For instance:

You get the 13MP rear camera — and four front cameras allowing to change perspective. Doesn’t work if you tilt a 2D drawing. With parallax, however, you can, by knowing where the viewer is in relation to the image. Hence the front facing cameras.

Makes for some cool visual effects. All of these front cameras are needed to create depth information. With four corner cameras, no matter how the phone is being held, there are at least two cameras needed for stereo vision. An infrared light sensor on each front camera lets them see in the dark. They are turned on only as needed to save battery. Makes great stereo images in any light possible.

Lots of power and ingenuity under the Fire's hood.
Lots of power and ingenuity under the Fire’s hood.

Trained algorithms recognize and track products, heads and faces — even phone numbers! — no matter how complex the backbround is. A face on a mug or T-shirt? No problem for the Fire, using depth cameras to reject heads that are too small or large to be human heads…

Or in messaging, a flick to the right brings up most recent camera photos. Try the same thing in your current smartphone and see how many taps it takes… Oh yes, tilting can also be used to control browsing, pull up menus and perform other navigations. It’s a way to click and scroll without touching the phone. Add the gorilla glass on the front and back — and you get free access to Prime for one year.

But remember, every image is just one click away from a order with free 2-day shipping.

+++ You can order the Fire directly from Amazon. The phone will be released on July 25, 2014. No word yet about availability outside the U.S.

  • Wade Marks

    Well…it seems kind of interesting…however, Joshua Topolsky, Editor In Chief of The Verge website writes “Fire Phone UI is a mess.” Which is what you would expect from a company that really isn’t known for OS UI design.

    That’s what so many people don’t understand, the advantage Apple has is that they have been designing UI’s for all sorts of devices for decades. It’s hard to replicate that experience and culture overnight. Certainly no company is perfect, but Apple has been sweating the details of UI for so much longer than Amazon, or for that matter, Samsung.

    Basically, it seems this Amazon phone is designed around the concept of getting it’s users to buy more stuff from Amazon. I don’t blame Amazon for doing this…that’s their business model. But as much as I love to buy online from Amazon, I don’t want my smart phone to be a constant advertisment saying “Buy more from Amazon.”

    • True that, yet I’m always happy to see a nice phone without a huge logo splashed over the front. It’s minimalism the Amazon way, sure with a buggy, immature, early OS that will improve over time. All in all it’s a promising first step that will make iOS and Android even better thanks to Amazon’s thinking outside of the box. Just let me be able to opt out of Amazon services a.k.a. be able to use the phone without products popping up and so forth. Yet the smooth integration of movies, books, TV shows plus a convenient “handheld shop” could be exactly what many people want.