Amazon Dials It Up a Notch

Amazon just unveiled the Fire, the company's long-rumored first original smartphone, but it remains to be seen whether it'll spark consumer interest or quickly flame out. With all the excellent Android and iPhone competitors out there, why would Amazon jump into the crowded smartphone arena? One look at the new device and the answer becomes obvious: It's not so much a phone as it is an Amazon-ordering delivery system. Everything about the Fire is designed to make searching, finding and buying products from Amazon as simple as possible. A special feature called Firefly uses innovative technology that enables image-, text- and audio-recognition scanning software that helps you quickly identify purchasable items. Perfect for impulse buyers, a one-click option lets you order whatever you want before you have a chance to really think about it. Of course, it's also a phone — one with some clever included features. The 4.7-inch screen display, with quality approaching 3-D, is designed to be viewable in the sun — even, apparently, if you're wearing sunglasses. The Fire also comes equipped with an impressive13-megapixel camera. And don't worry about the large file sizes of your gorgeous photos: The device allows an unlimited number of images to be automatically backed up to the cloud. Available exclusively on AT&T, the 32GB Fire comes out July 25 with a $650 price tag ($200 with contract). —Adam Albright-Hanna

Tags: technology