RED's founder Jannard says who is to blame for the Hydrogen One fiasco; sequel is coming

RED's founder Jannard says who is to blame for the Hydrogen One fiasco; sequel is coming
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 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.

Related phones

Hydrogen One
  • Display 5.7" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 12.3 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, Octa-core, 2450 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 4500 mAh



1. Penny

Posts: 1869; Member since: Feb 04, 2011

As one of the buyers of the Hydrogen One, I wouldn't say I've lost trust in the company or what they're trying to do. I understand they had their struggles, and the device wasn't perfect. However, I've appreciated their candor and willingness to bite bullets in order to repay the loyalty of the customer. It's a small company level of care coming from a company that has significant resources. It was their first attempt at a phone, their first attempt at outsourcing hardware production like this, and with a new team. Errors were bound to be made. But they seem to be learning from their mistakes and I'm definitely still interested in seeing what they can do with the Hydrogen Two. (And there were definitely some positives with the Hydrogen One to build off of, it's not like it was altogether without merit.)

6. perry1234

Posts: 652; Member since: Aug 14, 2012

Good on you Sir!

2. Vicky13

Posts: 1; Member since: Jul 24, 2019

Phone did get to the shelves of US carries, so technically no major issues there. Now talking about Camera then so-called OEMs must learn from Samsung, Huawei and Google first, oh wait, they are not the ODMs. I guess main failure reasons are bad bulky design, ridiculous price, and poor/inexperienced management. For me there is no reason to trust while best ones (Samsung, Pixel, Huawei, OnePlus) have been and will be delivering very well as per market requirements and dynamics.

3. Shubham412302

Posts: 588; Member since: Nov 09, 2011

Unless it has RED's own sensor no point in buying it.

4. rsiders

Posts: 1996; Member since: Nov 17, 2011

Yes please take their money again.and slap em while you're at it.lmbo

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.