Update, June 13: Amazon is being quite the tease with its June 18 device launch event. Copies of the children's book Mr. Pine's Purple House appear to be arriving in journalists' (physical) mailboxes, along with a note from CEO Jeff Bezos.
"Enclosed is my favorite childhood book … I think you'll agree that the world is a better place when things are a little bit different," the note read in part.
Mr. Pine's Purple House (available on Amazon, by the way) is about a man who comes up with a solution to make his house stand out amongst "FIFTY white houses." Bezos, it seems, is hinting that we're in for a device that will have something unique to offer amongst a perceived sea of sameness.
Update: This looks to be it. Amazon is hosting an event in Seattle on June 18. While we lack confirmation from the e-tail giant it's truly smartphone time, reading the tea leaves gives us a pretty good inkling the phone will finally show its face then and there.
A video posted alongside the event announcement features a number of "Amazon customers" gob smacked by an unseen device in their hands. Phrases like "awesome," "oh whoa," and "I've never seen anything like this" float from the people's mouths, but what's most telling is the swaying of their heads that suggest a glass-free 3D UI is present on the device.
One woman says, "It moved with me," a description that falls in line with what we've heard about the phone's interface before.
You can watch the video for yourself below, and if you really want to be one of the first to see the Amazon phone, fill out this form for a chance to snag an invite to the launch event.
With the runaway success of Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet - the media-happy device owns over half the Android tablet market - it seems only natural that the company would turn to smartphones next.
Like the Kindle Fire, an Amazon smartphone would be a veritable home-shopping network - replete with Kindle books, Android apps and Amazon Prime video - only as a phone, making it (in Amazon's eyes) the only device users would really need.
Given the anticipation that's built up around a product that's not even certain to exist, we figured it wise to compile all the rumors and speculation in one place.
Cut to the chase: What is it? Amazon's first smartphone When is it out? Launch date is likely June 18, look for it that day or shortly after What will it cost? Look for a phone in the $99-$199 (about £58-£118, AU$105-AU$212) price range
What does the Amazon phone look like?
Several purported images of the Amazon phone have leaked. The first, outed by BGR in mid-April, revealed a possible prototype. It's not official, but several sources are reporting that the 4.7-inch handset pictured here is Amazon's smartphone. The display is reported to be 720p, with a Snapdragon processor of unspecified power, and 2GB of RAM.
The phone also has a whopping five front-facing cameras, with four likely related to previously rumored features such as head tracking for 3D effects and gesture controls.
Then, on May 1, BGR was back with a render of the Amazon phone - sans protective armor - that was supposedly developed for internal graphic design use.
We think our 3D video render is far more exciting:
FutTv : E2wwA8oQv39ga
What will the Amazon phone be called?
The codename for this device is said to be Duke. Duke is pegged as the flagship model; a cheaper budget option may come along at some point.
Amazon may take cues from its other hardware and call it the Kindle Fire smartphone. This is pure speculation on our part, but it seems possible.
Amazon phone price
Rather come in at the top of the price tier, Amazon might clean up on the bottom. Rumors peg Amazon's phone as a budget device. Cheap has always been the name of the Amazon phone price game, in part because it's assumed that Amazon would sell the device wholesale (or maybe even at a loss) in order to further expand its digital content distribution.
That doesn't mean it will be a hunk of junk though; Amazon's Kindles are all bottom dollar devices with great builds and peppy internals.
CitiGroup analyst Kevin Chang said in 2011, "For a normal brand like HTC, they need to price the product at $243 to make 30% gross margin. If Amazon is actually willing to lose some money on the device, the price gap could be even bigger."
That means the Amazon Phone price could sink as low as $170 (around £101, AU$181) or even $150 (about £89, AU$160), though Amazon would surely make up the difference somehow - just like it does with the Kindle Fire.
We wouldn't be surprised to see the phone drop to $99 (about £58, AU$105) if it means Amazon can get more eyes on its hardware (and by design its accompanying software).
No, the Amazon phone won't be free
We've heard of free shipping and low-priced phones on a two-year contract, but one rumor was simply ridiculous: Amazon was tipped give its handset away for free.
The company quickly put that theory to bed though. In 2013, Amazon said at the time it had no plans to release a phone that year, and if it does make a handset, it "would not be free." Sorry, cheapskates.
Amazon phone release date
The phone's release date has been anticipated for two years now, but with a June 18 event scheduled, it seems Amazon is finally ready to put the thing to market.
We wouldn't be surprised if the Amazon phone release date was the same day as its unveiling with sales starting on Amazon.com, however the company may wait a few weeks to get everything right. When you're working with new features like a 3D UI, you want to guarantee it's done right.
As for regions the Amazon phone may head to, it sounds as though this will be a US-only offering to start.
This supposed fact, combined with a rumored low asking price, suggests that Amazon is going for the casual smartphone user, one who does not want to spend a fortune and would like to be able to carry the phone in their pocket with ease.
Amazon phone specs
As mentioned, the Amazon phone seems set to arrive with a 4.7-inch screen at 720p. The phone's processor will likely be a Snapdragon from Qualcomm, though how powerful it will be remains to be seen.
2GB of RAM will reportedly make it into the Amazon phone, and we have no word of internal storage options.
Cameras will place a key role in the Amazon phone, and it's said to house six in all. The main rear camera seems to have settled on 13MP and a standard-issue front facer stands guard ready to take selfless, facilitate video chats and access Amazon's Mayday live tech support service.
Beyond taking regular photos, the Amazon phone's back camera is said to have special optical character recognition software that can interpret and convert text captured with it.
Using this function you might snap a photo of a business card to have the phone automatically add information to your contacts, or be able to quickly translate signs written in a foreign language.
When users go to use the Amazon phone, they reportedly will only need some tilts of the device to perform the actions they want (or at least some of them) and not touch controls. What's more, tilting the Amazon phone may reveal information about things like IMDB and Yelp ratings, icon descriptions inside apps and much more extraneous yet useful goodies.
Amazon phone 3D features
The standout feature of the rumored handset looks to be its unique 3D interface that follows users around as they move. The best part? No glasses required.
The phone's other four front cameras are where the 3D magic happens. Situated on each corner of the Amazon phone's front, the cameras are actually low-power infrared snapper that work with sensors to track users' faces and eyes. Tracking helps the phone's software make constant adjustments to maintain the 3D visual effects.
Unlike the Nintendo 3DS, there won't be a parallax barrier that stands between users eyeballs and the LCD panel.
Because 3D is the device's standout element, Amazon has apparently included it wherever possible. Look out for special wallpapers that offer a shifting, three-dimensional effect, app icons that jump from the screen and other areas of the phone's UI that have a little something extra. Even the Amazon phone maps app is said to change the view of objects on display. Third-party app makers have also been offered the chance to make use of the phone's 3D abilities, BGR reported.
Finally, the Amazon phone's 3D powers will find a willing participant in Amazon's virtual marketplaces. Manipulating the position of the handset will reportedly give users a 3D look at product images, letting them see sides invisible in a 2D space.
Amazon phone operating system
It's hard to believe the Amazon phone will run anything other than Android, but true to its approach with the Kindle Fire tablets, this will be a highly forked flavor of Google's mobile OS.
While there may be hints of Android KitKat, look for a device laden with Amazon's own touches and a secure way to purchase goods via Amazon.com and video through Amazon Prime Instant Video.
Could we even see some sort of tie-in with Amazon Fire TV? Anything seems possible.
Evi to be the Amazon Phone's Siri?
Back in January 2013, Amazon acquired the startup behind a natural voice search engine similar to the Apple's Siri. Now the scent on the wind is that Amazon will be putting a chat-to app called Evi on its Amazon Phone .
It sounds logical, because Amazon would need this technology to be competitive, and it would be great on Kindle devices, too. Imagine yelling at those lock screen ads that you don't want Fifty Shades of Grey.
Will HTC make Amazon's phone?
Will Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC lend Amazon a hand with its upcoming phone? That's at least one thread of speculation on the streets.
It's the kind of job HTC has been up for in the past, crafting the HTC First for Facebook. While that phone was a fizzle, HTC know how and Amazon clout could be a killer combo. This rumor has us intrigued.
The former Microsoft man is named Kindel, Charlie Kindel, so we'd say he has the proper pedigree to help Amazon break into the market with an Amazon Phone or Kindle Phone, whatever the name ends up being. And despite the naming coincidence and the news breaking on April 1, we're confident there's nothing phony about this story.
"I'm building a new team going after a totally new area for Amazon. I'm hiring cloud and mobile developers and testers, program managers, and product managers," Kindel commented, immediately sending the internet into a flurry of rumors and sidelong interpretations.
Amazon phone will miss rumored Q2 2013 release date, still looking like a Foxconn product
It's all still the stuff of rumors, but previous rumblings pegged the Amazon Phone (or maybe Kindle Phone) as arriving in the second quarter of 2013. Now it looks as though that deadline will make a delightful whooshing noise as it blows past.
Somewhat infamous manufacturing mogul Foxconn is said to be on deck to produce the dirt cheap device. Its subsidiary Ensky Tech made the original Kindle Fire and now produces the Kindle Fire HD and the Kindle Paperwhite, so it would be no shock at all to see the two collaborate on the project.
As far as what's causing the delay, a report at Digitimes blames the "engineering verification test period due to issues related to its mobile platform," saying that the process, "has not been as smooth as expected."
This is surprising, given the great deal of experience Foxconn and its partners have in this field. It has us wondering what Amazon could have up its sleeve that's making the phone such a bother. As always, rumors are like cheap takeout; they just leaving you hungry for more.
Foxconn to manufacture Amazon phone for summer 2013 release date
This might be the most concrete rumor yet regarding the Amazon phone. Supposedly the online retail giant has inked a deal with Foxconn to manufacture its first smartphone. Industry insiders also expect a summer 2013 release.
According to the reports, the phone may also have a dirt-cheap asking price of $100-200 (about £60-120/AU$95-190). This would fall in step with Amazon's strategy with its Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Paperwhite line, devices sold at highly competitive prices in order to get customers investing in Amazon's media library.
While the involvement of Foxconn is not surprising, since the company has become a prolific manufacturer of all things electronic, it is somewhat troubling given its reputation for overworked, striking employees. Maybe the Amazon phone will be one of the first devices assembled in American Foxconn factories?
Further, the same report claimed that Amazon is busy hoarding as many wireless patents as possible to defend itself from the inevitable infringement suits that follow any modicum of success in the market.
Windows Phone executives board the good ship Amazon
First Brandon Watson left the Windows Phone team to become Amazon's director of Kindle cross platform, then Robert Williams, previously Windows Phone's senior director of business development, joined Amazon as its app store director.
Of course, the mere fact that the two previously worked on Windows Phone in no way proved that Amazon had brought them on to work on its own phone - but then again, it's not that far of a stretch, is it?
Alex Roth contributed to the creation and upkeep of this hub page
Amazon phone: 10 things we want to see
TechRadar's Amazon Phone wish list
We at TechRadar aren't immune to the charms of an Amazon Phone, even if it does only exist in the imaginations of analysts and tech bloggers at the moment.
That's where this wish list of Amazon Phone features came from, as well, after all.
On the list are such far-fetched notions as an at-cost Amazon Phone price point, something that's basically been assumed all along, as well as slick cloud and streaming integration, a refreshed app store, exclusive shopping discounts, and killer hardware features like NFC.
Whether any of that will actually come to fruition - or whether the Amazon truly even exists or really is just a figment of a thousand overactive imaginations - will be seen only when Amazon decides to step out of the shadows and into the firelight.
Here are 10 things we'd like to see in the Amazon phone, in order for it to make a dent in the smartphone space.
1. Discount the Amazon phone price
Amazon was willing to sell Kindles at a loss in order to grow the device's base from zero to hero.
Just how far is the online retail giant willing to go to cut the Amazon phone price in order to entice customers?
It's hard to justify a brand-new smartphone purchase at non-contract prices. What can Amazon do to sweeten the deal for upgraders and off-upgraders alike?
2. Tie in services
It goes without saying, but Amazon's going to have to do a superb job integrating its cloud storage, web-based MP3 service, and streaming video collection into a phone.
These service gems all sound like familiar offerings from Google, Apple, or Microsoft: To be different, Amazon has to raise the bar with what it offers (more storage!) or how it allows users to interact with its other services.
3. Play nice
We get it. Amazon wants to use Google's operating system as the base for its phone (or so the rumors go), but Amazon doesn't want to allow users to easily tap into Google's goods and services.
Competition is fair.
But, please, for the sake of usability - don't just throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Amazon might not like Google Play, but that doesn't mean it has to ditch every Google-branded app out there, especially if they exist in a market that Amazon doesn't play in (Maps?)
4. Update the appstore for Android
Sorry, Amazon. Your appstore leaves a lot to be desired.
Refresh the interface, quicken it up, allow users to more easily navigate through apps that they might want to try out, and consider adding some social features to help one's friends recommend diamond apps in the rough.
Or, feature weekly rotating lists of must-have apps that are worth downloading based on editor feedback, not just because they're inexpensive.
5. Integrated discounts
Free apps. Amazon's Gold Box. Shipping discounts for Amazon Prime members. Affiliates.
There's a lot of magic surrounding many of Amazon's core services and cold, hard cash.
Amazon, extend these options to your phone.
Court larger developers to offer better free applications.
Offer rolling discounts for apps (people actually want to use) in special time-limited sales that you tease throughout the week.
Allow users to make money by recommending apps to their friends, colleagues, and peers.
Bring the mercantile magic of Amazon dot com into Amazon Phone (or whatever it'll be called).
6. Primed for Prime
Here's the big one: What benefit do Prime subscribers get if they pick up an Amazon phone?
Big discount? Increased access to services (like streaming video)? More storage space?
Prime is Amazon's big change to sell its phone on the cheap and incentivize owners to pay more, annually, for a more exclusive slice of Amazon's pie.
Make the bonuses killer, and you've just locked in a user for an extra $160 (or so) over the course of a two-year contract.
7. Ignore exclusivity, choose and stick to a release date
Well, for carriers at least. Nothing would hurt Amazon more in its quest to establish a foothold in the smartphone market than allying itself with a single carrier - worse, a carrier that isn't the top in the market for good ol' 4G LTE service.
Amazon needs to capitalize on its brand recognition and, as the saying goes, "go big or go home."
Pick one chip that supports GSM and CDMA for non-4G LTE service and allow customers to switch carriers without hassle (unlock that phone!)
And as far as a Amazon phone release date, pick one and stick to it. Don't keep it pushing it back like other carriers.
Think worldly, Amazon.
8. Consider prepaid plans
The big buzzword today is "prepaid" smartphones, but the concept does come with a bit of hassle – the smartphones cost a bit more, might not be as good as some of the top-shelf items you can purchase, and prepaid providers just don't have as good of a reach as the cellular industry's big guns.
If Amazon were to somehow flex its clout and get the main carriers to work more harmoniously with prepaid service plans (or the smaller carriers that support them)… that would be quite an eye-opener, wouldn't it?
9. Amazon phone specs need killer hardware
It goes without saying (again), but Amazon might not want to slink into the smartphone market with a low- to medium-powered device.
You can't just Kindle Fire your way into the market from absolutely nothing. To make a dent, Amazon will have to make a splash.
It's unclear how Amazon would go up against some of the market's leading manufactures and their speedier, faster, larger, and more feature-packed devices (that release on a more consistent timeframe).
But there's a little thing called the iPhone 5 that's going to start capturing a lot of attention as we inch closer to the end of the year.
Amazon needs to capture the buzz with, quite simply, a "cooler" phone.
10. NFC for you and me
Amazon's an online shopping powerhouse.
So, turn the phone into a powerhouse shopping device: Give users a super-easy method for comparing what they're looking at against products in Amazon's database to determine whether they're getting the best possible deal.
Or, better yet, incentivize users who price match with their devices by giving them a small discount on Amazon.com purchases itself.
Help users remember what to buy and where to buy it (if not from Amazon).
Tie in Amazon's reviewing service so users can recommend, on the fly, Amazon-hosted alternatives for items they might want to buy.
And then there's the biggie: Tie NFC payments to one's Amazon account and allow users to pay for products using their phones, not their wallets.
Transform the offline shopping experience with a smartphone the same way you transformed the online shopping experience with Amazon's.
Alex Roth contributed to the creation and upkeep of this hub page