RED's Hydrogen One - world's first holographic smartphone

Konstantin Sheiko
January 30, 2018

The Red Digital Cinema Camera Company is an American company that designs and manufactures the high-end digital cinematography and photography cameras and accessories. The company’s headquarters are in Irvine, California, with studios in Hollywood. It has offices in London, Shanghai, and Singapore, retail stores in Hollywood, New York, and Miami, as well as various authorized resellers and service centers around the world. 

The team that consistently pushes the boundaries of cinema-quality cameras has unveiled the RED Hydrogen One smartphone last summer. However, the details about its release date and more solid specifications were sketchy at best. Until now, Red Hydrogen One has been shaping up to be a phone with a lot of promise and hype, yet few concrete details and specs. However, lately new information concerning the device has emerged, thanks to a post by a RED Founder and CEO Jim Jannard. The RED smartphone is being marketed as “the world’s first holographic media machine in your pocket”, and apparently it does not require the 3D glasses.

Hydrogen One will feature a 5.7-inch QHD 2,560 x 1,440 screen that can display images in 2D and (holographic) glasses-free 4V. It is expected to launch with carriers this summer. The Android-run smartphone will have a Snapdragon 835 chip/processor (as what is currently in the Samsung Galaxy S8), and feature a massive 4,500 mAh battery, offering 125 percent the battery capacity of the similarly sized Galaxy S8+.

The battery will be providing support for all of the smartphone’s multiple functions, including the content creation. The latter has become one of the main and favorite applications that the users engage their phones quite often for, apart from communication and Internet browsing. Though it is unclear at this point what kind of content this will support, the exciting news is that you will be able to “shoot and create 4V content” on the device natively without an additional module.

Because of its modular design, the Hydrogen will be performing a variety of additional tasks both at launch and in the future with simple add-ons that connect via a Pogo pin system for both power and data delivery and a wide range of flexibility. Given the phone’s modular capabilities, it seems likely that at some point Red could release a battery-boosting pack. Regarding its RAM, the best guess would be 4GB or 6GB, both of which fall in line with flagship phones. That being said, it would be best to pack it with 6GB or even 8GB given its price tag and promise of ambitious modular accessories to expand on the experience.

With a holographic display that has the ability to behave like a standard, high-resolution two-dimensional display or an advanced, smartphone-first holographic "4V" display, the Hydrogen will be able to create so-called 4V content from both front-facing and rear-facing cameras. According to Jannard, the 4V experience is “better than 3D”, and the users won’t need the 3D glasses. When comparing two-dimensional content, which uses the same resolution as the holographic projection, Jannard said he still prefers 4V content.

Additionally, the smartphone will launch first in a carrier-unlocked configuration. While it will require time for full carrier certification, Jannard refers to carrier support as “unprecedented” and said that it is “as good as it gets,” although he would not disclose the names. In all likelihood, it means that at least all four major U.S. carriers (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon) will support the phone sometime after a promised summer 2018 rollout. As it stands, Jannard hinted that the Hydrogen One will likely be previewed beginning in April.

Size-wise, Jannard declared that the Hydrogen One will feature a 5.7-inch display that is "just slightly bigger than other 5.7” cell phones… like a few millimeters …it is also just a tad thicker… think solid”, and a headphone jack. Dual SIM card slots will allow for two phone numbers to be used at the same time or for one SIM card to be installed alongside one expansion microSD card. 

A USB-C port will charge the phone and transfer data (with USB-C mentioned, it is unlikely this will feature Thunderbolt 3 functionality, speeds, or increased power delivery, and will instead be capable of transfer speeds for USB-3.0). No one outside of Red has seen the holographic work in action, but according to the company’s CEO, the internal response can be summed up in “gasps, swears or just grins.”

The phone looks generally rugged all around with grip-friendly materials that look to cater to those who are using it to record some footage. In terms of its weight, Red’s CEO has stated that it will be two ounces more than most phones of its stature. Part of the phone’s rear is elevated, perhaps to yield more comfort in-hand. The big mystery surrounding the Red Hydrogen One is its front. It has thick bezels around its display, affording Red more than enough room to fit in a fingerprint sensor.

RED is currently working with partners to create 4V content for the Hydrogen Network, through which all 4V content will be shared, displayed, and/or sold. More information on creating 4V content will come during a “Hydrogen Day” event in April for pre-order customers, where RED will explain more about the system and content network.

What RED is proposing with this phone is unlike anything else on the market right now. Though some might be disappointed by its use of last year’s Snapdragon 835 chip, the unique features, and the not too crazy price tag still make this a very interesting device. The Hydrogen One is available for pre-order for $1,195 or $1,595 for the aluminum or titanium models, respectively, and the device is finally set to ship this summer. Pre-order phones will be made available before carrier phones, as the former will not have to go through an approval process, but before the April’s promotion event. Lastly, Red is stating that this price is for a limited time only, meaning that it could go up even higher closer to, or after, the phone’s launch.