Mobility

Red Hydrogen One smartphone: Cheat sheet

Movie camera company Red's Android-powered smartphone features revolutionary holographic screen technology. Here's everything pros need to know about the Red Hydrogen One.

Camera manufacturer Red is known for its video recording hardware that has been the top choice for many modern Hollywood films, and now the company is branching out into the smartphone arena with the Hydrogen One. But Red's Hydrogen One isn't just any high-priced luxury device—if the reports of its capabilities are true, the Hydrogen One and its holographic screen technology could be a game-changing smartphone.

Read on to learn what business pros need to know about the Red Hydrogen One. This article will be updated as more information about, and updates to, the Red Hydrogen One are announced.

SEE: Mobile device computing policy (Tech Pro Research)

What is the Red Hydrogen One?

The Hydrogen One is a modular smartphone, akin to the Moto Z, that can support improved cameras and other snap-on hardware improvements. The only snap-on module Red has mentioned so far is a cinema camera module, previewed by sister site CNET, that will have interchangeable lens mounts to enable it to support a wide variety of professional-quality lenses.

The biggest tech leap the Hydrogen One offers is its holographic display, which Red calls 4-View. 4-View promises headset-free 3D display capability that gives depth to videos, movies, and games that Red said has "look-around depth," meaning the image maintains its 3D quality when viewed from different angles. CNET reports that the quality of the 4-View holographic screen is better than any attempt at glasses-free 3D.

The appearance of the Red Hydrogen One is akin to other Red cameras: Black, industrial, and tough looking. Much of the aesthetics of current smartphones have been ditched with the Hydrogen One, making it a unique looking, and technologically innovative, device.

Red Hydrogen One tech specs

  • Operating system: Android
  • Processor: Snapdragon 835
  • RAM: 6 GB
  • Storage: 128 GB
  • Screen: 5.7" 2,560x1,440-pixel, 4-View technology, Gorilla Glass
  • Battery capacity: 4,500 mAh
  • Cameras: dual rear 12MP f/1.8 lenses, dual front 8MP f/2 lenses
  • Charging: USB-C
  • Expansion: MicroSD
  • SIM: Dual SIM card slots
  • Other features: headphone jack, Google AR Core, aluminum/kevlar construction, attachable to Red cameras to serve as touchscreen

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Who should get a Red Hydrogen One?

Red cinema cameras are some of the most popular in the film and TV industries, and the Hydrogen One has a lot of appeal for professionals who work in those arenas.

Red's goal for the Hydrogen One is apparent with its ability to be used as a control touchscreen for its cinema cameras: The company wants the Hydrogen One to serve as an extension of its cameras, and in some cases completely replace them.

The only expansion module that Red has announced is a cinema camera attachment, and that should make any videography professional on a budget thrilled: It could bring the quality of $40,000+ Red cameras to a smartphone.

That's not to say that the Hydrogen One isn't great for non-visual media professionals. Its 4-View holographic screen makes compatible movies, video games, and even photos better looking by giving them an illusion of three-dimensional depth without any additional equipment.

SEE: 4 secrets: How to take professional photos with your smartphone (TechRepublic)

CNET's Patrick Holland, on seeing a demo of the 4-View holographic screen, was amazed by it, saying, "It's as if the screen was a proscenium theater and some parts of the image were up front and close and other parts of the image were farther away. The overall effect was immersive. No matter how much I moved the phone, the 3D effect was there. It worked in both portrait and landscape."

The Hydrogen One's cameras are capable of capturing 4-View compatible images, so the pictures you take with it will look especially good when viewed on the device's holographic screen.

The Hydrogen One has something for professionals who spend a lot of time video conferencing as well: Its 4-View screen will add depth to Skype and FaceTime calls, making the other person look just a bit more real.

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Will the Red Hydrogen One actually be a game-changing smartphone?

At a hands-on demo of the Hydrogen One, Red founder Jim Jannard said, "It's been 10 years since we had a 'Hey dude, check out my phone' experience," and he's correct. Critiques of recent smartphones have had common complaints, mainly centering on a lack of any new innovation. We've entered into the era of static smartphones, where change is incremental and there's nothing truly new under the sun.

Red is trying to up the game with the Hydrogen One, and while it remains to be seen if it will be successful, there's no doubt that the Hydrogen One offers some much-needed innovation.

The 4-View screen on the Hydrogen One could be a glimpse at the future of displays from Apple, Google, Samsung, and other manufacturers, especially if it works better than the failed Amazon Fire phone, which experimented with similar display technology.

SEE: All of TechRepublic's cheat sheets and smart person's guides

Modular smartphones have been tried as well, and previous attempts haven't been much of a success. If Red sticks to releasing modules that truly extend the capability of the Hydrogen One in practical ways, it could give new life to the idea of modular devices, prompting other major tech companies to follow suit.

Red has created a smartphone that is an integral part of its other products, particularly its upcoming 8K 3D camera, of which the Hydrogen One will serve as a 3D viewfinder. Whether using it as a viewfinder or an independent camera (with the addition of the cinema camera module), the Hydrogen One has a place in a larger ecosystem beyond simply being a paired device: Other smartphone manufacturers (and those that produce other high-end tech equipment) will be watching closely to see if the Hydrogen One succeeds in being an integral part of the Red ecosystem.

All in all, the Red Hydrogen One is bringing several firsts, or new attempts to revitalize firsts, to the smartphone market. Like other high-end devices with new features, its success or failure will likely dictate the direction of other smartphones and related tech in the coming years.

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When will the Red Hydrogen One be available, and how do I get one?

The Red Hydrogen One faced several delays since preorders became available in August 2017.

As of this writing, Hydrogen One preorders were scheduled to begin shipping on October 18, 2018. The Hydrogen One is scheduled to launch on AT&T and Verizon on November 2, 2018, but that date could be subject to change.

The Red Hydrogen One website has closed orders, and only has an option to sign up for release details. AT&T and Verizon's pages for the Hydrogen One don't have ordering available yet either, so if you haven't preordered the device through Red, you'll have to wait until November 2 at the earliest to order a Hydrogen One.

While on preorder, the Hydrogen One was priced at $1,295 USD for the aluminum version and $1,595 USD for a titanium model. Neither Red, Verizon, nor AT&T have mentioned a different price for the device once it's widely available.

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Red Hydrogen One smartphone

Image: CNET

About Brandon Vigliarolo

Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.

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