There's nothing new about rumours that Amazon might make a smartphone - they already make their own line of successful tablets, so it wouldn't be a massive conceptual leap for them to release a smaller handset.

But if reports from the Wall Street Journal and TechCrunch are to be believed, one might be coming sooner than we expected.

Oh, and it's going to be 3D.

Techcrunch reports that the Amazon phone will come in two variants - an inexpensive Android phone, and a high-end version ('Smith') with eye-tracking 3D technology and a unique user interface.

Elements of the news were originally leaked in the Journal earlier this year, but the Techcrunch report is based on a posting on Hacker News which claimed the phone was originally planned to have launched by autumn 2013 but was delayed in part by staff departures.

The post said:

"There are 2 versions, a cheap one that's being released by the end of the year with a basic software similar to the Kindle Fire software. The other version will be more expensive and feature a 3D UI but won't be released until at least next year. The screen itself is not 3D, but the front of the phone has 4 cameras placed on each corner of the phone, this is to track the user's eyes/head and move the UI to give the impression of 3D.

Similar to what iOS 7 is achieving simply by using the phone's accelerometer. The advantage being that it's not based on how the phone moves, but how the head moves.

They wanted to have it launched already but had difficulties with both software and hardware, and then lots of key players left the company - a common problem at Amazon is retention, having the lowest record of any tech company."

As far as anyone in the media is able to report, the devices are still a way off from being released. But it's an intriguing glimpse at a product which has always assumed to have been in development, but which might turn out to be more interesting than we had a right to expect.

Head over to Techcrunch for the full report.

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