25 Jul 2018
RED Hydrogen One: The most ambitious smartphone in recent years
While there's been a lot of talk about upcoming smartphones by the likes of Apple, Samsung, and Google, interest in high-end camera-maker RED's Hydrogen One smartphone has been relatively subdued.
Yet, it's worth noting that while the rest of global smartphone makers are simply improving tried-and-tested features, RED is going for something potentially revolutionary.
Here's all you need to know about it.
Almost everything about the RED Hydrogen One is a secret
Part of the reason why interest in RED's first smartphone has been subdued is the extreme secrecy around the project - everything about the phone except for a couple of stand-out features are unknown to almost everyone outside RED.
Despite this secrecy, initial sneak-peeks by reviewers seem to indicate that the device will offer never-before-seen capabilities on a smartphone.
The RED Hydrogen One is not your typical smartphone
To describe the RED Hydrogen One as a 5.7-inch Android phone with top-of-the-line specs would be a grave injustice.
Of course, high-end specs are a part of the phone, but that's not what makes it stand out.
Instead, RED envisions the phone as a modular (VERY) high-end camera system and a portable media creation/film-making device that comes with a futuristic holographic display.
A DSLR-like camera module is what RED is going for
RED is known for its high-end film-making 4K cameras, and it is bringing that expertise to the Hydrogen One.
While details are still sketchy, RED, to start with, is reportedly looking to incorporate a camera module, more common to DSLRs than smartphone cameras.
RED is "just" working with Cannon, Nikon, Fuji, and Leica, among others, to attach a big camera lens to its module.
RED Hydrogen One's camera reportedly packs a mean punch
Reportedly, RED Hydrogen One's camera will be capable of taking 2D, 3D, as well as H4V (RED's holographic file format) photos and videos, making the phone a potential high-end camera replacement, and small-scale movie making device.
RED Hydrogen One's novel 'holographic display' is a closely-guarded secret
The other major innovation is as yet inexplicable "4-view" holographic display.
While it's not quite like the tech Tony Stark uses in Iron Man, hands-on reviewers, so far, have been blown away by it.
Owing to RED's blanket ban on photography/videography of the tech, we haven't been able to glimpse it yet.
However, it promises to be a highly-immersive, bug-free 3D viewing experience.
The holographic display already works for photos, videos, video chatting
There's the obvious question of what kind of functionality the holographic display will offer.
In the hands-on reviews, reviewers used the '4V' display to view videos, photos, and movie clips, and even used the display for video chatting.
They reported that the display worked seamlessly and maintained its depth in all cases, from all viewing angles, and in portrait and landscape mode.
Other notable features being offered by the RED Hydrogen One
Another feature which RED has touted is the Hydrogen One's audio playback capabilities which, it claims, can create a virtual surround sound effect using algorithms.
RED is also working with companies like Leia to help game developers make use of its 4V display.
Furthermore, there's the Hydrogen Network that will allow users and content creators to share and view original 4V content.
Challenges: High price, niche audience, and lack of customer awareness
Despite its offerings, marketability remains a challenge for RED.
With the phone being priced at $1,195-1,595, users will want to know what they're paying for. However, the secrecy surrounding the Hydrogen One has, so far, been a barrier to customer awareness.
Additionally, the Hydrogen One's features are likely to appeal to a very niche audience, so the phone's market success remains to be seen.