Amazing? Hardly. Why Amazon’s 3D smartphone is silly

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3D, whether it’s on the cinema screen or on your smartphone, is a gimmick. Guess what that makes Amazon’s rumored 3D, multi-camera smartphone sound like? If you haven’t been following the gossip, Amazon is almost certainly going to announce a smartphone during an event on June 18. It’s set to have a “revolutionary” 3D user interface, and a one-off control system. While the idea of a multi-camera eye-tracking system sounds interesting, the 3D aspect, should it turn out to be a major feature, will be the tech equivalent of a solitary mint leaf on top of a bowl of pasta.

“Hold on, it’ll be awesome!” ardent stereoscopists will cry. Yeah right. Like Clash of the Titans? History has proven that entering the third dimension is usually a let down. But in the case of smartphones, it’s worse than that. HTC and LG have both given it a try, and while the phones have been fine, the 3D was a mishmash of disjointed apps and pokey-out menus. DT’s Deputy Editor, Jeffrey Van Camp, said of the Optimus 3D Max back in 2012: “The glasses-free 3D feature still feels more like a gimmick than an integral part of the phone.” He was right, and it was the same with the HTC Evo 3D.

Amazon knows it’s a gimmick

Even Amazon’s own promo video for its forthcoming device is the very definition of how to promote a gimmick. It shows various people staring at an unseen portable device, and being so deeply impressed with what they’re seeing you’d think it was their firstborn child. That’s what 3D is all about — something to make the audience say “Ohh” and “Ahh.” What the video doesn’t show, is the people moving on to the next shiny object five minutes later. 3D is, and always will be, forgettable. It has no substance, and offers nothing aside from a quick visual thrill.

Adding 3D is like saying “It’s like saying, “Yes, I liked that holiday, but if only I had more diarrhea.”

Ask yourself this, when was the last time you used a device and thought, “Yes, I like this phone, but if only it had complex, pop-up menu system.” It’s like saying, “Yes, I liked that holiday, but if only I had more diarrhea.” Using 3D well is difficult, and rarely does everyone see it the same way. Honestly, if it’s only a subtle 3D effect, why bother, and if it’s too in-your-face, not everyone is going to like it. Does Amazon actually want to sell phones? We presume so, but why doesn’t it repeat the Kindle Fire’s recipe for success?

I don’t want gimmicks from Amazon, I want another May Day-style feature where the benefits are obvious: a cheap price, solid build quality, and access to all the services it’s so keen to sell. That’s all. I don’t want four cameras ruining the smartphone’s battery life, or to relearn how to use an Android phone. I also don’t want to jolt of going from 3D menus to standard menus if Amazon can’t attract (or pay) enough developers to create fun apps utilizing the tech.

Don’t cheapen the brand with a gimmick, Amazon 

Let’s hope Amazon has put enough effort into this to make it worthwhile. I want fewer things cluttering up my smartphone, not more. Like a 3D TV, a 3D phone is something to show your 2D-device-owning friend, once. When the novelty has passed, it’s not good for much else.

This is what makes it a worry. Gimmicks are almost always used to sell a product with almost no redeeming features whatsoever. How else do you explain Transformers: Dark of the Moon? In the smartphone market even the very best players have a hard time finding customers, and the rules regarding cheap, decent phones have changed this past year. Why not go with a low price, free Amazon Prime membership, and a premium design? Or maybe a crazy new Amazon data plan?

Maybe it will have all these things, but if it does, what’s with the need for 3D? Like a 3D film, there’s always the risk of it being an empty, forgettable experience or worse, an annoying, eye-crossing, vomit-inducing nightmare. Amazon would be wise not to use either as a marketing slogan.

The Amazon phone better do more than make me flinch every time I look at it wrong.

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