Amazon (AMZN) Unveils Its First-ever Smartphone, Launching Exclusively with AT&T (T)

Amazon.com (AMZN) unveiled its first smartphone Wednesday, the Fire Phone.

The new device goes on sale July 25, but you can only get it through AT&T (T), which is Fire Phone’s exclusive carrier. It costs $199.99 with a 2-year contract for a 32GB device and $299 for a 64GB device. You can also buy it without a contract starting at $649.

Amazon’s Chief Executive Jeff Bezos showed off the new smartphone with 3-D visual technology at a private event in Seattle.

Bezos said the Fire Phone, which is equipped with a quad-core 2.2GHz Soc, Adreno 330 graphics, and 2GB of RAM, all protected on both sides by Gorilla Glass 3, will come with a 4.7-inch 720p IPS LCD and a 13MP camera.

One of the biggest features in the phone is “Firefly”. The app is designed to let you snap images of products that can be recognized through bar codes and other information and then provides ways the items can be searched in Amazon’s massive database. During the event, Bezos demonstrated how Firefly can be used to scan barcodes on items, and other things. The Fire Phone has also a dedicated Firefly button on the side, which is a clever way to bring customers into Amazon’s ecosystem.

Bezos also said that the e-commerce giant will create a third-party software development kit that devs can use to come up with their own uses for Firefly.

Cantor Fitzgerald’s Youssef Squali said [via MW] that even though Amazon was entering a crowded market dominated by Apple (AAPL), Samsung and LG, introducing the Fire Phone is an “important move” for the company.

“It should bolster Amazon’s mobile offering and allow the company to pursue increasingly mobile audiences more effectively,” Squali said. “[And] also help Amazon compete with the likes of Apple and Google in building its own digital content ecosystem and becoming a major purveyor of digital goods.”

Amazon shares gained $8.76, or 2.69 percent, to $334.38 in regular trading Wednesday in New York.

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