Talking tech since 2003

Amazon still hasn’t said a word about its smartphone, what’s become something of an open secret on the web after weeks of leaks and months of reports. But a post on BGR from yesterday offers up leaked design renders of the handset, giving us the clearest look yet at what the online retailer has in store for its consumers.

The image at the top of this post, apparently “created for internal use by graphic designers at Amazon,” reveals a smartphone design that doesn’t stray too far from what we’ve seen out of lots of other OEMs over the last few years. It’s a black bar with a touchscreen, a speaker and a microphone at the bottom, and what looks like a separate “home” button in the center of the phone’s bottom edge, just like the Samsung Galaxy family of phones.

If you squint, you can even see what looks like little cameras, which is in line with what we’ve heard about the phone using four infrared front-facing cameras to allow for some form of gesture-control. Other than that, though, the image doesn’t really offer up anything new or particularly unexpected.

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of features Amazon boasts about when it finally makes a formal announcement of the device’s existence. We’ve heard that it’s going to have the aforementioned gesture control, and a limited form of glasses-free 3D. We’ve also heard that it’ll work with a speculated “Amazon Prime Data,” which could ride AT&T’s signals and could offer subscribers free subscriptions to Amazon’s Instant Video services.

But in the end, it’s another Amazon content delivery gadget. The company is great at making and marketing those. The Kindle and Kindle Fire line of e-readers and tablets ushered in a golden age of small and affordable media consumption devices, offering a sharp contrast to the premium devices pushed by Apple.

But will consumers want an Amazon-made smartphone? I ask this because it will undoubtedly run the forked version of Android that’s found on Kindle Fire tablets. And while that may be fine for tablets, which are only used some of the time, it may not go over quite as well in the realm of the smartphone, which, comparatively, is used all the time.

I got so sick of using the customized UIs of Samsung and HTC smartphones that eventually I had to switch to a Nexus 5 to get a pure Android interface. I can only imagine how frustrating it might be to have to use the Fire UI on a smartphone when trying to get anything done.

I’m not saying that an Amazon smartphone can’t succeed. I’d be foolish to think that the company hasn’t got a very, very good plan in place to make the device a success. But I do have my questions about how Amazon will entice users to try out it’s smartphone in a world populated by more powerful and more proven competitors.

[Source: BGR]

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