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Associated Press
The Amazon Fire smartphone debuted Wednesday. The new smartphone, costing $200 for a base model and requiring a two-year contract, is available July 25.

Amazon phone tied to its services

4.7-inch entry offers ability to render images in 3-D

– Amazon has introduced a smartphone with audio and object recognition technology that seeks to make it easier for consumers to locate and buy products and services from the nation’s largest e-commerce company.

The Fire Phone, as it is known, also adds such features as the ability to render images in 3-D.

The new phone doesn’t differ much from other smartphones on the market, and it shares many characteristics found in other Amazon devices. For instance, the phone will have X-Ray for supplemental content about movies and TV shows and Mayday for live tech support.

Amazon’s new Firefly feature allows users to take a photo of an object, such as a toaster or a soup can, and get more information about it, including a way to buy it through Amazon.

Many of the new features have been available elsewhere as separate apps. Firefly goes further, though, by incorporating audio recognition.

“It goes back to the mission of Amazon, which is to sell you stuff,” said Ramon Llamas of the research firm IDC. “It reduces the number of steps it takes to buy things on the phone.”

The phone will have a screen measuring 4.7 inches diagonally. That’s smaller than leading Android phone but larger than Apple’s iPhone.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos calls the Fire’s size ideal for one-handed use.

The phone will be available July 25 in the U.S. exclusively through AT&T. People can start ordering it immediately.

Prices are comparable to leading high-end phones, but the Fire will have double the storage.

It will cost $200 for a base model with 32 gigabytes and $300 for 64 gigabytes.

Both phones require two-year service contracts. Without contracts, they will cost $650 and $750.

The phone will come with 12 months of Prime membership, which normally costs $99 a year.

Amazon is arriving late in the fiercely competitive smartphone market. Samsung and Apple dominate worldwide smartphone sales with a combined 46 percent share.

In the U.S., Apple leads with more than 37 percent, with Samsung at nearly 29 percent.

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