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Reports say an Amazon phone is close

Doug Gross, CNN
BlackBerry on Wednesday unveiled its newest smartphone with a full physical keyboard and a large screen, aiming to return to its roots targeting business users. The Passport is designed to win back users after BlackBerry was knocked out of the highly competitive consumer smartphone market dominated by Apple and Samsung. Here's a look at some other top smartphones on the market now or coming soon. BlackBerry on Wednesday unveiled its newest smartphone with a full physical keyboard and a large screen, aiming to return to its roots targeting business users. The Passport is designed to win back users after BlackBerry was knocked out of the highly competitive consumer smartphone market dominated by Apple and Samsung. Here's a look at some other top smartphones on the market now or coming soon.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Multiple reports suggest a new smartphone from Amazon is coming soon
  • The phone will offer hologram-like 3-D images, according to reports
  • Once known for Web sales, Amazon has increasingly become a hardware company
  • The Kindle line of tablets and e-readers has been a success for Amazon

(CNN) -- After more than two years of hints and leaks, the long-awaited Amazon phone appears to be almost ready for its debut.

The device has been a prime example of "vaporware," the term for rumored tech gadgets that everybody loves talking about despite the fact they don't officially exist. And Amazon has never confirmed that it's making a smartphone.

But the drumbeat is getting louder, and recent reports suggest the handset will hit the market soon.

In the past week, tech blog Boy Genius Report has posted images of what it says is that very phone, along with a report that users will control some features of the device just by tilting it at certain angles.

That followed a report from The Wall Street Journal that Amazon will roll out the phone by June and it will be on sale by September.

Both articles say the phone will include a groundbreaking technology: a screen that uses four cameras to produce hologram-like 3-D images without the need for special glasses.

In the BGR photos, the phone is cloaked in a protective shell that hides details of its design. The blog did not say how it acquired those images, but reported speaking with "multiple trusted sources." In the past, BGR has accurately reported details about unannounced Amazon products like its Kindle Fire tablets and Kindle e-readers.

The 3-D model is one of two phones Amazon plans to announce, the reports say, the other being a cheaper, less fancy one.

The company that made its name in online retailing has been working on the phone for several years, according to reports. And, indeed, rumors of its existence have been floating around since at least 2011.

Amazon was long thought of primarily as a website. But since the success of its e-reader, the Kindle, the company has increasingly become known for its hardware, too. The original Kindle in 2007 was followed by the Kindle Fire tablet and, most recently, by Amazon Fire TV, a device that streams Web content to your television.

With the Fire TV, Amazon has reaffirmed its products as competitors to similar hardware from Apple and Google, as well as more targeted companies like Roku and TiVo.

It makes sense that a phone would follow. And Amazon appears to have chosen to take its time to roll out something unique instead of just jumping into a crowded market dominated by the iPhone and a small handful of handsets running Google's Android operating system.

"Congratulations to Amazon.com for thinking outside the box. If this is a hit it could be great news for both Amazon.com and their customers," wireless analyst Jeff Kagan said. "It could be another Kindle-like business."

But that success isn't guaranteed, even with Amazon's expansive resources behind it, he said in a media release.

"Some companies like Apple, Google and Samsung are very successful in the smartphone space. However many more companies are trying with very little success," Kagan added. "The next biggest player is Microsoft Nokia and they only have a few percent market share."

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