RED, the ultra high-end camera company with a flair for dramatic product designs, has announced an Android smartphone called the “RED Hydrogen.” The press release is very light on details and written in RED’s typical maximum-hype style, declaring that phone “shatters the mold of conventional thinking” and “features nanotechnology.” There are a few details we can try to translate into English, though.
First up, I’m not even quite sure what the phone’s official name is. The website calls it the “RED Hydrogen,” while the “Product Detail” PDF calls it the “RED Hydrogen One.” The tag line calls this device a “Holographic media machine in your pocket” and says the 5.7-inch display “seamlessly switched between traditional 2D content, holographic multi-view content, 3D content, and interactive games.” So presumably, like a Nintendo 3DS or HTC Evo 3D, this will come with some kind of special autostereoscopic 3D display.
The talk of holography is a reference to something called “RED Hydrogen 4-view content (H4V)” which sounds like a new proprietary format from RED, but the company hasn’t defined or announced H4V anywhere as far as we can tell. “Hydrogen” seems to be the branding for whatever this new imaging format is. The phone is also the “Hydrogen media machine,” and, with a future accessory, you’ll be able to record a “Hydrogen format holographic image.” The release goes on to call the phone a “Control center for the hydrogen system” and will integrate with RED’s cameras as a “user interface and monitor.”
The device is for sale now, but RED doesn’t have a spec list. It lists versions called “Titanium” and “Aluminum” for $1595 and $1195, respectively, which are shipping in “Q1 2018.” Whether or not these names actually refer to the build materials used in the devices is unclear. RED is a fan of carbon fiber and other high-end materials in its devices, so a titanium phone isn’t out of the question.
Let’s talk about this insane phone render. These “dark” teaser images never work well to hide information, and I’ve brightened this one in Photoshop so we can better see what is going on. On the bottom, I spy a headphone jack (woo!) and what looks to be a poorly-rendered USB-C port. On the left side is a weird red… thing. It almost looks like a port of some kind? Place your bets in the comments. Also on the left is a power button labeled “POWER” in all caps and what looks to be the SIM/Micro SD slot.
On the back is an eye-catching modular connector that looks like it was ripped straight off a Moto Z. RED’s press release says the phone has a “new high-speed data bus” and a “comprehensive, ever-expanding modular component system,” which I assume is referring to this connector. The release mentions that “additional modules will not be immediately available” at launch, but as we said earlier, one of these modules will let you capture some kind of “holographic” image.
Both sides are shaped with deep, finned finger grooves, and the whole thing looks to be put together with four giant allen bolts that go right through the back. The huge RED camera logo on the back is surrounded by more fins that are meant to evoke a heatsink (it would be pretty cool if these were functional). Toward the top of the back is a big circle that houses the camera, but that is not a giant camera lens. It’s just a circle that seems to house a normal-sized sensor and another component, probably an LED flash.
RED notes that the design, specs, and delivery date “can change for anytime and any reason,” and the pricing is for a limited time only. If this were any other company, we would call the product “vaporware,” ignore it, and move on. But RED has shown it can actually deliver products that no one else is building.