The RED Smartphone: A photographers delight or overkill??

The RED Smartphone:
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RED, a digital cinema camera maker based out of Irvine C.A., has released what it hopes to be an on-the-go photographer’s wet dream – a holographic camera smartphone. This is uncharted territory for the company which otherwise offers products such as lenses, 4K video casting and laser projectors apart from its mainstay camera business.

With this foray into the premium smartphone market, RED hopes to take on the might of the Apples, Vertus and other niche segment players with the offering of tech never seen before on a smartphone till date.

The Product:

The device, yet to be released, has been aptly coined as ‘Hydrogen One’, giving it a certain mystical appeal to go with its next-gen camera technology and has made what it hopes to be an apt usage of the modular concept which we are aware of thanks to Google’s – Project Ara.

Display and Looks:

The Hydrogen One has a 5.7-inch display having a very industrious body design language similar to the cameras they produce (as per the pictures released by the company). Unlike the likes of Apple, the released pictures show a headphone jack for music connectivity. The USP of the Hydrogen One is its glassless holographic display which is supposed to be able to display RED’s ‘4-view content’ (something we have very little clarity about) along with the more mainstream stereo 3D and 2D content. This level of display flexibility is based on RED’s patented nanotechnology developments which the company did not feel the need to discuss at length.

This glasses’ holographic technology has already been proven in the market with the release of the 3DS by Nintendo. RED founder Jim Jannard says “There is no better way to describe it until you have a look.” He also writes that “Our display is the technology you haven’t seen before”.

Processor and Memory:

The phone runs on Android OS, RED has also gone ahead by stating that the Hydrogen One will use an algorithm to convert stereo sound into “multi-dimensional audio” to add to the immersive experience,  or, as RED puts it, to “ASSAULT YOUR SENSES.”

The leaked images reveal that the device has expandable memory via a micro-sd card. One would certainly need this considering the camera is supposed to be shooting 4k videos and its holographic display.

Hydrogen One will also support the complete feature of augmented reality, virtual reality and even mixed reality.

Price and Availability:

The phone came up for pre-order on Amazon on Thursday with the aluminum body construction costing heavy $1,195 and the titanium one will set the buyer back by another cool $ 400 i.e. $1595. Clearly, this is a phone not for the average Joe.


It waits to be seen how much of a success Hydrogen One will be, with the company already announcing that the initial orders are going to face a lot of delays.  As a result, the 2018 Q1 release date might also shift to later. RED was a no-one in the digital camera business but has managed a strong footing there. It remains to be seen if they can pull off the same with the Hydrogen One.