By all accounts, RED's Hydrogen One was a major disappointment and flop. In fact, in our review of the device, we gave it a score of four out of a possible 10. While the 4-View holographic display is certainly interesting, the high price of the phone is something that no doubt turned off a lot of consumers. Even now, Verizon is asking nearly $1,295 for the phone ($53.94 a month spread out over 24 months). And the titanium model was so late when it shipped this past April, the company decided to ship it free to those who had pre-ordered one back in 2017. The latter model has a retail price of $1,595.
On RED's own H4Vuser.net website yesterday (via The Verge), company founder Jim Jannard penned a post that put the blame for the fiasco that was the Hydrogen One on the phone's original design manufacturer (ODM) in China. The executive noted that the ODM was responsible for putting together the new technologies used in the handset while integrating the software with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC used to power the device. Jannard said that the ODM it used "significantly underperformed." He did, however, have praise for Foxconn. He called the job done by the contract manufacturer "Fantastic."
Can RED earn back the trust of consumers?
So RED has already started work on the Hydrogen Two, building the device almost from scratch. The company is using a new ODM that Jannard says is "clearly more capable of building and supporting the product we (and our customers) demand." It also has created a new camera module called Komodo that will integrate with both the Hydrogen One and HydrogenTwo phones. Jannard says that the new module will produce "cinema-grade images at the highest level at lower pricing," although it won't be as outstanding as the higher price RED cameras used by professionals. He also says that Hydrogen One owners will be thanked by receiving preferential treatment on allotments and pricing of the new cinema camera and the Hydrogen Two.
The Hydrogen One does have one strong feature. The 4500mAh battery that powers the device took it right to the top of our rankings for battery life when the phone was first released. And the fast charging system it employs also ranked highly. But it is important to note that RED will have trouble regaining the trust of many consumers who felt let down not only by the delays in obtaining their phone but also by the phone itself. And when dealing with an expensive product that failed, manufacturers often don't get a second bite at the apple.
The Hydrogen One features a 5.7-inch LCD display carrying a resolution of 1440 x 2560 for an old school 16:9 aspect ratio. We've already mentioned the Snapdragon 835 Mobile Platform under the hood, and the phone sports 6GB of memory and 128GB of storage. A 128GB capacity microSD slot is on hand for those seeking additional storage. Dual 12.3MP cameras are on the back, capturing images in RED's 3D holographic format if so desired. And in front is an 8MP selfie snapper.
So it seems that when it comes to smartphones, RED is seemingly not one and done. Jannard says at the end of his post, "We are not done…" but it isn't certain that consumers haven't given up on the brand as a smartphone option.