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10 Things You Need to Know About Amazon’s New Fire Phone

A new cellular phone. (Screengrab via Amazon)

A new Amazon Fire cellular phone. (Screengrab via Amazon)

When we heard the news of the Amazon Fire phone this afternoon, our first thought was, “Oh, good, another black rectangular smartphone made by a way-too-powerful tech giant.”

Then we read the specifics, and, okay, this phone is pretty cool. Not cool enough for us to trade in our iPhones just yet, but it’s tempting, at least. So here are the 10 most important facts we learned about the Fire today:

1. Its camera can pick up on items in your surroundings that you might be able to buy on Amazon. So it’s like Shazam for… discount books and fake Louis Vuitton bags?  Is that what the kids are purchasing on Amazon these days? Either way, the phone exists mainly to sell you even more stuff.

2. If that wasn’t future-creepy enough for you, the Fire also comes pre-loaded with all of your personal information straight from Amazon HQ. Sadly, though, we’re thinking it won’t parachute into your living room from a Bezos-branded drone.

3. It looks a lot like an iPhone.

4. It has a head-tracking 3D graphics feature called Dynamic Perspective, basically a more advanced version of iPhone’s 3D parallax effect. Using four front-facing cameras, the phone will be able to tell where your head is in order to make you nauseous create a great and necessary effect. Beyond that, no one is quite sure what value it will add. TechCrunch says the technology will be “very limited” and is possibly a “marketing gimmick.”

5. It’s only available on AT&T for now, and pre-ordering starts today. Phones will be available in stores on July 25.

6. Its one-handed scrolling feature is the kind of ingenious tech innovation that makes you think, “Why wasn’t that invented until now?” To scroll down on something you’re reading, you tilt the phone back. That’s it. Yes, you can currently one-handed-scroll your iPhone if you are in possession of even a single opposable thumb, but this is so much easier.

7. Amateur photogs will feel cool for owning it, and professional lensmen will roll their eyes at them. The Fire comes with unlimited photo storage and the camera has its very own button. Also, photos taken with the Fire look marginally better than iPhone pics. It’s still not a DSLR, though, so the only thing it’ll really improve is your Instagram feed.

8. Because of the name, if the device ever, say, shoots flames across a mall or causes someone’s fake boob to explode, the headlines will be great.

9. Its customer service function, Mayday, lets Amazon workers control your phone in order to answer your questions and show you how to do things. Hopefully this won’t result in a modern-day Smart House situation.

10. Alas, it’s not a sex toy — at least, not officially.

Follow Molly Mulshine on Twitter or via RSS. mmulshine@observer.com