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Amazon reportedly mounting Apple, Samsung war with cheap smartphone and mobile with '3D' UI

Amazon has been dodging smartphone rumours for years, but recent reports suggest the retailer might finally be releasing a mobile of its own.

Amazon is apparently developing two phones — a cheap one that will hit shelves by the end of the year, and an "expensive" version with a 3D user interface and eye-tracking technology.

Details appeared in a Hacker News posting, explaining that while the device, code-named "Smith," will not come with an actual 3D screen, it will sport a camera placed on each of the four corners to track the user's movements and shift the UI accordingly, to give the impression of three dimensions.

Hacker News also said Amazon intended to launch a less expensive phone this year, too, but ran into software and hardware issues before "lots of key players" left the company.

The second, entry-level device is reported to include basic software similar to the Fire OS found on the new Kindle Fire tablets. Few details have been revealed, but Amazon recently refuted rumours that the handset would be available for free, or at all this year.

Meanwhile, the team is planning to include an image-recognition feature, which lets users snap a picture of any object and match it to similar products in the database.

Different from the barcode scanner found in the Amazon mobile app, image recognition could help offset the cost of the phone, as the company would presumably make money from additional sales.

"We have no plans to offer a phone this year, and if we were to launch a phone in the future, it would not be free," a spokesman said in September.