Amazon's long-rumored smartphone, the Fire Phone, will be priced at the high-end industry standard of $199 for a 32GB model and $299 for a 64GB model with required data and voice plans on a two-year contract.
Amazon is taking preorders for the device now through its website with a release date of July 25. The phone's unsubsidized price without a carrier contract is $649 for the 32GB model and $749 for the 64GB one. The phone is listed only in black, and Amazon is releasing it through AT&T exclusively.
Though it's priced similarly to Apple's iPhone 5S and Samsung's S5, the Amazon Fire Phone -- in a limited-time offer -- comes with a free year of Amazon Prime, the company's shipping and content membership program that typically costs $99 a year. If you already have Prime, a Fire Phone purchase will net you an additional 12 months.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos took the stage at a private event in Seattle on Wednesday to officially announce the e-commerce giant's entrance to the smartphone market. Brandishing a slim, black device that won't win any awards for design ingenuity, Bezos instead staked out Amazon's bold vision for a one-stop shop nexus that fits into your pocket.
Equipped with Firefly, its standout feature, the Fire Phone will be able to scan and identify more than 100 million items, enabling users to perform instantaneous price checks alongside a contextual database search of everything from music and street signs to the handwritten contents of notes and letters.
Firefly, when rolled into Amazon's network of services anchored by Prime, is meant to be the linchpin of the Fire Phone. With a device that customers can take with them to every physical store and location and scan their surroundings, Amazon is adding a powerful new avenue to reroute users back to its platform and marketplace.
At closing, Amazon stock was up 2.69 percent, or 8.76 points, at $334.28 per share.
Amazon's extension of its burgeoning hardware line further pits the e-commerce giant against its rival tech titans and gives it another way to lock its customers into its massive retail ecosystem. The company's strategy has remained the same for all of its hardware: Sell customers affordable devices so they can use to them to shop from Amazon.
At the heart of this strategy is Prime. For $99, membership for the program gives shoppers access to unlimited two-day shipping on physical products, streaming movies and music, and borrowing e-books. Amazon's other devices -- the Kindle e-readers, Kindle Fire tablets, and Fire TV set-top box -- are all connected to Prime, which has more than 20 million members.
Rumors about the smartphone have swirled around the company for several years. The phone was created at Lab126, Amazon's development facility housed in the heart of Silicon Valley, according to Bloomberg. Code-named Tyto, the device is one of the unit's longest-running projects, possibly going back as far as 2009.
Update at 5:45 p.m. PT: Added Amazon's closing stock price.