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TheStreet Open House

Here's a First Look at Amazon's Phone

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Amazon (AMZN - Get Report) is seemingly hellbent on becoming the next Apple (AAPL - Get Report), as it looks to make its own hardware to sell more software and content. But if this is the company's first attempt at a smartphone, count me out.

Courtesy of some amazing reporting by tech website BGR, and editor Zach Epstein, the world has gotten its first look at what appears to be Amazon's smartphone. At first glance, this is no iPhone-killer, but it may kill some eyeballs, as it's not particularly attractive looking, judging by the pictures. There's one major caveat, though: The BGR report notes the phone "is covered by a protective shell intended to prevent people without authorization from seeing the physical design of the phone. Some areas of the photos have also been blocked or otherwise obscured by BGR."

BGR notes the first phone, of which there may be two (a high-end and a low-end phone coming later this year), may be powered by a Qualcomm (QCOM) Snapdragon processor, and feature 2GB of RAM. Amazon made sure to note that the Fire TV, Amazon's set-top box announced earlier this month, also includes 2GB of RAM. The phone is reported to be 4.7-inches diagonally, and may feature a 720p HD resolution, compared to a 1080p HD resolution on other smartphones, including the iPhone 5s, as well as other offerings from Samsung and HTC.

Amazon has not returned repeated requests from TheStreet for comment for this story on multiple occasions.

Aside from being another portal for Amazon to have you buy goods, services and digital content from the Seattle-based retailer, the company is reportedly including 3D software in the phone, to allow for 3D images to show up. According to BGR, the phone will include a total of six cameras; two in the front and four in the back to facilitate a glasses-free 3D effect on the phone.

Previous reports from various publications, including The Wall Street Journal, have also noted Amazon is working on incorporating 3D software into the upcoming phone.

Though timing on the device(s) is not clear, it would be Amazon's latest foray into the hardware industry. In the past, Amazon did not put place too much emphasis on the development of hardware, instead using a razor-razorblade model, where if consumers purchased a Kindle, Kindle Paperwhite, or the first Kindle Fire, it would open them up to a myriad of downloadable books, magazines, newspapers and accessories. However, the devices themselves were less than adequate.

That mindset changed markedly with the introduction of the Kindle Fire HDX, Amazon's second tablet offering,

Amazon's media sales, which includes digital content like movies, MP3 music, books and magazines, among other things, rose 9% in 2013 to $21.7 billion, or 29% of the company's annual net sales. Yet, at this month's Fire TV launch, Peter Larsen, Amazon's vice president of Kindle, noted the company is working on creating "premium" hardware for consumers for a value price.

Kindle Fire HDX's most buzzed about feature was its "Mayday" button, which makes an Amazon expert appear on screen for free, at any time, to show users who might need assistance in operating the tablet. Amazon touted that the average response time for assistance on Christmas Day was 9 seconds, beating its expected 15-second time. BGR notes the Mayday feature may also be available on the smartphone.

--Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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