updated 03:17 am EDT, Wed October 30, 2013
Said to feature eye tracking, 3D gestures; budget model also planned
Citing a source that has previously been known to be accurate regarding Amazon products, AppleInsider is reporting that the retailer plans to enter the smartphone market with perhaps two models -- a premium one that features "entirely new input methods" including 3D gesturing and eye tracking, and a budget model more in line with conventional Android budget smartphones. The phone or phones are expected in the second quarter of 2014.
The company has allegedly "partnered with a number of Asian compact camera module makers" to supply what is thought to be the premium smartphone model with four VGA-quality cameras that are use to enable features such as 3D gesturing to activate certain functions, or track a users' eye movements. The phone would have another two 12- and 13-megapixel cameras (respectively) for video messaging and image capture.
Such gimmickry has not proven to be a strong selling point thus far. Samsung's main improvements to the S4 flagship phone were mostly the addition of new input methods such as gesturing, and were received poorly and are rarely used -- the phone has become a popular model almost in spite of some of the added features over the S III rather than because of them. It is of course possible that Amazon may succeed where others have failed and create demand for 3D phone gesturing.
Suppliers have been identified as Liteon, Sunny Optical and Primax, the latter being named the primary component supplier. One of the models is said to sport a 4.7-inch display, and run on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor. Amazon is said to have ordered between five and 10 million units to be assembled during the second quarter of next year.
The alleged "premium" model, at least, is designed to take on Apple's iPhone. It's unclear if this time Amazon will allow the new product to have full access to the Play store rather than a restricted level seen in the Kindle Fire tablets, favoring Amazon's own stores over Google's.