Typically quiet Amazon has jumped to deny rumors that it’s working on a smartphone that would be offered to consumers for free.

Amazon also noted that it won’t be launching a phone this year in a statement to Jessica Lessin’s news site (a proto-site for a new tech news project from the former WSJ writer).

Amazon typically keeps its lips sealed when it comes to rumors, especially those surrounding a potential smartphone (which have been swirling for years). So it’s a surprising statement and strongly hints that Amazon is planning to launch a smartphone at some point. And while the company is making it clear that its phone won’t be free, there’s still room to offer plenty of other discounts around the price of the hardware, or the plans consumers could subscribe to. (Amazon could be particularly cheeky and just offer the phone for 99 cents — technically not free!)

With its Kindle Fire tablets, Amazon has already figured out one way to make compelling gadgets when faced with more experience competitors. The company’s tablets run a custom version of Android that offers a more consumer-friendly user experience than plain old Android. Amazon also offers a selective Android app store for its tablets, which highlights high-quality Android apps but doesn’t give you access to the full slate of Android apps.

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