Amazon Phone: does anyone want a 3D handset?

Amazon has long been rumoured to be working on a smartphone, and this week more details leaked about the hardware – including 3D support.

Amazon Phone: does anyone want a 3D handset?

The company is thought to be planning a June release and has been demoing a 3D-enabled handset at private meetings in San Francisco, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The details offered by the Journal about the rumoured Amazon phone include the ability of the screen to generate “3D-like images … similar to a hologram” using four sensors in the phone.

Apparently, Amazon envisions this being used to create a 3D scan of a room and then enabling users to see what it would look like with a new piece of furniture in it – furniture that the company handily sells through its online retail site.

The WSJ adds that the 3D display would be responsive to how close a person’s face is and “will be able to automatically zoom into images as it moves closer to a user’s face and could manipulate text and images as a person moves the phone”.

In terms of hardware, rumours persist that will feature a Qualcomm processor with support for 4G. It’s also expected that, like the Amazon Kindle range, the device will run on a forked version of Google’s Android OS, but will not offer access to the Google Play store.

Amazon seems keen to take a punt on new technologies, recently launching the Fire TV set-top-box. Google has also recently revealed a prototype 3D-enabled phone, suggesting Amazon isn’t the only one that sees value in the idea.

Not the first

But with all this hype, one question arises: does anyone actually want a 3D smartphone?

This is not the first time a company has tried to break into the 3D phone market. In Japan and South Korea, Sharp in particular has launched multiple 3D-enabled phones, the majority of which use parallax barrier technology.

However only HTC and LG have had a crack at the global market, with the Evo 3D and Optimus 3D respectively, both launched in 2011, but neither product managed to generate much consumer interest.

The HTC was eventually rebranded as the EVO V 4G, putting the emphasis more on connectivity and speed and less on its display properties, which actually led to an uptick in sales in the US market.

“If you look at the LG phone, they did a lot of work on its 3D capabilities – there was no need to wear glasses, it did 3D filming – but it just didn’t catch on,” Tim Coulling, senior analyst at Canalys told PC Pro.

Coulling added that the 3D TV market “isn’t exactly huge” and the shift in the market towards cheaper phones could make it difficult to sell a 3D phone.

“If anyone’s really going to make an impression with a 3D phone, it’s going to have to be pretty special,” Coulling said.

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