Rumors of an Amazon phone have been swirling for years, and it’s finally looking like we’re close — tomorrow, the company’s executives will take the stage in Seattle, WA, to show off what it’s been working on. As per tradition around these parts, it’s time to take every noteworthy rumor we have seen crop up the last couple months, and spin them into an Amazon phone rumor roundup.
Some of the earliest rumors suggested Amazon would team up with HTC in order to produce a joint-effort smartphone. Allegedly, three different release candidates were being worked on, with one far along in the development process as of October of last year. Bloomberg also weighed in on this rumor in October, stating that talks between the two had been ongoing since June 2013, and that anything could change at any given moment. While more recent rumors also suggest Amazon has built its phone in-house, this HTC partnership remains as a possibility.
The elephant in the room is the handset’s 3D sensing capabilities, which have been slowly leaked and speculated about. The Wall Street Journal first brought us in the loop by telling us Amazon had a phone model with a 3D screen in development way back in May 2013. This report said a retina-tracking camera would be used, and 3D hologram-esque imagery would appear to float above the device’s display. In essence, this is just a clever way to make a 2D smartphone display look like a 3D one, and we’re not entirely sure how it would look when viewed in person. This video shows what we think the 3D capabilities will be like:
Additional 3D details are anything but scarce. Another report suggests a camera will be embedded in all four corners of the phone’s screen in order to facilitate the retina/head tracking features. Amazon also has patents for this kind of thing, so we’d be anything but surprised to see 3D tech in the Amazon smartphone tomorrow.
Now that the whole 3D deal is out of the way, let’s talk more conventional hardware specs. The phone could have a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 SoC, with the display being a 4.7-inch 720p panel. The camera situation is a bit weird to compensate for the 3D tech — a 13MP rear-facing camera, a 2MP front-facer, and four front-facing VGA sensors (as explained above) are all allegedly to be found within the handset. 2GB of RAM are also expected to be had.
Let’s next talk about networking. The latest report suggests AT&T could have an exclusive on the phone, and John Legere has made it pretty clear that T-Mobile won’t be getting in on the fun. Rumors of a “Prime Data” partnership with AT&T have also been up in the air, but details are murky — it seems to us that buying the phone may net buyers free access to Amazon Prime, or this could have something to do with AT&T’s Sponsored Data scheme.
Finally, let’s go over pricing and availability. Early rumors suggested the phone may be free for current Prime subscribers, but Amazon shot those down pretty quickly. We don’t know if or when we’ll see a launch in US retailers, but it’s more than a safe bet that Amazon will stock the phone itself. Amazon’s smartphone will likely be announced at an event in Seattle, WA, at 1:30 PM EDT tomorrow (that’s 5:30 PM GMT for our international friends). We will bring you any and all news as we hear of it.