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Amazon smartphone reportedly already in testing

Buttressing earlier reports that the Internet retailer is prepping a handset of its own, the Wall Street Journal says that production could begin as soon as this year.

Amazon is already testing a smartphone with Asian component suppliers that could be in production as early as this year, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The smartphone that Amazon is currently testing has a screen size of between four and five inches, one of the Journal's sources says.

The report seems to support a Bloomberg report last week that the Seattle-based Internet retailer was working with hardware maker Foxconn to create a device to challenge the iPhone and Android-based phones. The company is also reportedly beefing up its portfolio of patents covering wireless technologies to head off expected legal challenges.

These are not the first rumblings we've heard of Amazon working on a smartphone of its own. Citigroup analysts suggested last November that the Seattle-based e-commerce giant was working with Foxconn to develop a smartphone slated for release in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Amazon is also said to be readying the release of its second-generation Kindle Fire, which is expected to put a little heat on Apple's iPad and the Nexus 7, the Android-powered tablet Google unveiled last month at Google I/O. The trio also compete in the app arena, with Amazon's Android Appstore challenging Apple's App Store and Google Play Store for mobile users' business.