RED's holographic phone will launch August 2018

"We have no idea whatsoever what we are doing." But that's not a bad thing really.

Patrick Holland Managing Editor
Patrick Holland has been a phone reviewer for CNET since 2016. He is a former theater director who occasionally makes short films. Patrick has an eye for photography and a passion for everything mobile. He is a colorful raconteur who will guide you through the ever-changing, fast-paced world of phones, especially the iPhone and iOS. He used to co-host CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast and interviewed guests like Jeff Goldblum, Alfre Woodard, Stephen Merchant, Sam Jay, Edgar Wright and Roy Wood Jr.
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Patrick Holland
3 min read

More details are finally revealed about the mysterious holographic modular phone from camera maker RED.


Last summer, the US-based company RED -- known for its cinema cameras widely used on Hollywood films -- grabbed attention when it revealed it would be releasing a phone. The Hydrogen One was unusual not only because RED had never made a phone, but also because the $1,595 titanium device (or $1,195 for an aluminium version) was available for preorder with little to no information about it.

That changed Monday when RED founder and CEO Jim Jannard shared specs and features about the Hydrogen One in an enthusiastic RED User forum post. The big news: The phone will be available this summer from cellular carriers and even earlier to those who preordered "unlocked" versions. Jannard writes that carrier support will be "unprecedented."

Editors' note: This article was originally published on Jan. 23, 2018. Since that time, RED confirmed that its Hydrogen phone will launch in August 2018. For more details about the phone and launch, check out our story that covers both.

Watch this: Why we're so excited about Red's $1,200 phone

That's pretty impressive if true. Essential was only able to woo Sprint as a partner for its phone. Particularly, RED's phone does things we haven't seen from a phone before.

The solid phone's 5.7-inch screen will have two modes: a regular 2D mode and a 4-View (4V) holographic mode which displays a "better than 3D image" without glasses, according to Jannard. He says that those who've seen the 4V in-person have reacted with "gasps, swears or just grins."


Filmmaker David Fincher (left) reacts to seeing a prototype of the RED Hydrogen One phone.

Jarred Land/RED

The Hydrogen One's 4V video format is new and Jannard hints that it will be supported by several "big dog" social media sites. He also says the company will establish the "Hydrogen Network," a new platform to share or sell 4V content.

"This will be the one place to find all 4V content online. From major studios and other content providers to creating your own channel," wrote Jannard.

The scallop-edged phone, like RED's cameras, is designed to be modular -- something shown in patent filings. Pogo pins are used to transmit power and data between the modules and the phone is similar to Moto Mods for Motorola phones.

There is a planned battery module and a cinema camera module; unlike Moto Mods, they'll be "stackable" allowing for use of more than one module at a time.


The cinema module is of particular interest because most cinema cameras cost thousands of dollars. The idea of bringing the pedigree of a RED camera into a modular durable form-factor with a low-end price point has the potential to attract a lot of professionals and part-time creatives who normally couldn't afford the tens of thousands of dollars needed to buy a RED cinema camera. It should noted that modules will be sold later.

RED Hydrogen One phone specs and features

Hers's a list of all the specs and features that we know so far: 

  • 5.7-inch display with a resolution of 2,560x1,440 pixels
  • Dual viewing modes: Regular 2D and 4V -- aka RED's version of 3D
  • Body made of aluminum or titanium
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835X processor -- not sure if the "X" is a typo or indicates a new version
  • In body cameras capable of recording 4V video
  • Headphone jack
  • 4,500mAh battery -- which is enormous but is probably needed to power the display and modules
  • Dual-SIM -- unusual for phones released in the United States
  • Expandable storage via a MicroSD slot
  • USB-C port
  • Built-in speakers capable of playing multi-channel spacial audio
  • Stackable modules that connect via pogo pins for power and data

Jannard promises that there will be more news about the phone, 4V and the Hydrogen Network soon, with a possible preview in April at RED Studios.