This is RED's Hydrogen One: a $1195 camera phone with 'holographic' display

RED or dead. That seems to have been the slogan inside RED Digital Camera when designing their well-kept secret of a phone, the Hydrogen One. The only hint that the company, known for its expensive, top-shelf camera equipment, will announce a flagship handset, was a patent about it filed not long ago, which went under the radar anywhere but the photographic blogosphere.

In this day and age where nothing can be kept secret anymore, the Hydrogen One was a pleasant surprise. It is actually still a secret, and very tantalizing at that, as the press release is full of unique selling points like a holographic display, which, knowing RED as a company, we wouldn't just dismiss as marketing speak. Here's the gist:


Remember when Andy Rubin was explaining the process of creating his Essential Phone? He mentioned that the team experimented with tens of different shapes, and loved the hourglass one for its excellent grippability, yet went with a more orthodox rectangular form instead. Well, at the time we thought why would you need an hourglass-shaped phone when you can just do wavy finger slots on the sides, and the grip would be just as strong. That's exactly what the Hydrogen One is doing, judging by the only press render you see above.

RED's phone will apparently put function before form, as it is not following the trend of ultrathin, smooth and shiny glass housings that are a dime a dozen these days in the flagship realm. The Hydrogen One has a significant camera bump, which may hint at an enhanced photographic prowess, as well as a prominent RED Digital Cinema logo on the back. The thing seems to be held together by four hexagonal screws, which would either indicate a modular design, or some kind of a rugged certification. 

Well, modular design is in for sure, just like on Motorola or the Essential phones, just in a "plate" sandwich format, according to the patents, rather than only attaching small accessories with pins. RED's press release mentions that the pin connectors on the back are tied to a "new high-speed data bus" that will allow adding attachments that shoot even higher quality stills and video than the main camera, and also ones that can produce content for viewing on the "holographic" screen.


As we just mentioned the display again, we can't resist but expand a bit more on that. Remember the LG Optimus 3D, or even the Nintendo 3DS? Well, the Hydrogen One's 5.7" holographic display will be nothing like those. Why? According to RED's Jim Jannard: 

Obviously, the 3D stereo function is not even the main feature of this display, as the Hydrogen One is also deemed to be holographic (H4V), virtually-augmented and mixed-reality-ready smartphone. The panel can "switch seamlessly between traditional 2D content, holographic multi-view content, 3D content, and interactive games." Oh, let's not forget that it will be "nanotechnology" that will swap those regimes. Snap!

Specs and camera

Besides the 5.7" high-res display, a USB-C port, and a microSD slot for storage expansion, nothing else is listed in the press release about the phone's specs. A recent patent filing by RED about the Hydrogen One claims that it will allow mounting cameras able to shoot 6K video (yep), and/or 3D camera module with recessed lens. These will be the plate add-ons, it seems, as Mr Jannard expands a bit more about the specs on a Reduser forum thread with the following:

Price and release date

How much for this holographic universe of a phone? Well, RED is selling it right now on a preorder basis, and you can claim either the aluminum model for $1195, or the titanium one for $1595. Sounds steep? For RED's standards, these are actually decent prices for a modular smartphone with unique display and media features, plus you will get a mysterious "small token" as an early adopter. The problem is that RED envisions shipping the first batches in early 2018, and warns that due to the specificity of the holographic display, supply will be rather limited. Any takers?

source: RED, Reduser (forum) & DefinitionMagazine



1. dubaiboy78

Posts: 455; Member since: Sep 19, 2014

Iphone8 will destroy thia trash! - Efonearina

4. ibend2

Posts: 159; Member since: Mar 16, 2016

in ugliness rating?

6. Bankz

Posts: 2550; Member since: Apr 08, 2016

The definition of vapourware.

19. HansP

Posts: 542; Member since: Oct 16, 2011

More like a clever timing in revealing something actual new in mobile. "Your big sales pitch is that your fingerprint sensor might be located there? These other guys has holographic projectors, seamless 3D and 6k cameras. What awesome new things will your fingering sensor do again?"

20. sumphatsmack

Posts: 29; Member since: Aug 10, 2017

I prefer ugly phones so I am going for the Hydrogen one

2. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3109; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

Good to see tech companies are pushing the boundaries of innovation. Bring more competition in the smartphone industry.

9. TeriusRose

Posts: 108; Member since: May 12, 2017

Honestly, this has me pretty hype. RED products have some stellar image quality, so I am extremely curious to see what they will be able to do.

12. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3109; Member since: Sep 01, 2014


3. TerryD

Posts: 553; Member since: May 09, 2017

But look! Its got wiggly edges and it's a funny shape! A smartphone design that doesn't conform to the boring rectangle that every manufacturer seems to think we all want.

5. Jacksie66 unregistered

Vaporware if ever I saw it.

11. TeriusRose

Posts: 108; Member since: May 12, 2017

I wouldn't necessarily be sure about that, RED is not one of those tiny companies with a big aspirations you see that come out with some impossible ideas. They already make some of the best cinema cameras in the world. I don't really doubt they can make a phone, if they bring in the right talent.

15. MrShazam

Posts: 987; Member since: Jun 22, 2017

Exactly! MKBHD is one of the top YouTubers making use of their gear as his main camera. Wouldn't be impossible for such organization to build a camera phone that obliterates the competition.

7. Diego!

Posts: 876; Member since: Jun 15, 2009

I need to see how that screen works! Looks interesting!

8. tedkord

Posts: 17413; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Exactly. Sounds interesting, and I want to see if it's really something new.

10. TeriusRose

Posts: 108; Member since: May 12, 2017

If nothing else, their image quality should be damn good.

13. rsiders

Posts: 1975; Member since: Nov 17, 2011

So with the add-ons, we can expect some serious "Shot on RED" campaign marketing. This will be very interesting and way out of my price range. But for those who can afford it aka MKBHD, I'm sure they will let us live vicariously through them. Can't wait. I love what they've done with the design as well.

14. TeriusRose

Posts: 108; Member since: May 12, 2017

I've had to snap up a ton of eupiqment for my businesses this year, and part of that is acquiring/researching certain Digital Cinema Cameras. RED camera systems are *incredibly* expensive. One that I specced (which wasn't as well equipped as it could've been) was over 110K. I'll have to wait a bit to buy one, but I didn't expect it to be more expensive than most cars. Good lord. I think their results are worth that price, but still. But yeah dude, that design is awesome. I'm curious about how their software will perform though. Yes they make amazing cameras... but success in one area doesn't automatically mean success in another.

16. jacky899

Posts: 431; Member since: May 16, 2017

I'm really excited about this because of the amazing technological innovation it is said to bring. However, that form is too ugly for a day to day phone.

17. Anchor

Posts: 160; Member since: Jun 16, 2017

So you kiss your beautiful phone everyday when you wake up?. Forget the ugliness thingy and embrace this phone, beauty will wear off in a matter of months

18. Anchor

Posts: 160; Member since: Jun 16, 2017

I'm so interested to see the display of that phone in action, they're a whole lot of alien language that I don't understand in the article and only a video or holding the phone in real life can translate them to English. Not so bothered about the wavy sides, I'd happily welcome anything that tries to be different from all the rectangles we have today.

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