The 'holographic' Red Hydrogen phone has been delayed -- and improved

The delay might be for the better.

Sean Hollister Senior Editor / Reviews
When his parents denied him a Super NES, he got mad. When they traded a prize Sega Genesis for a 2400 baud modem, he got even. Years of Internet shareware, eBay'd possessions and video game testing jobs after that, he joined Engadget. He helped found The Verge, and later served as Gizmodo's reviews editor. When he's not madly testing laptops, apps, virtual reality experiences, and whatever new gadget will supposedly change the world, he likes to kick back with some games, a good Nerf blaster, and a bottle of Tejava.
Sean Hollister
3 min read

The Red Hydrogen.

Marques Brownlee (MKBHD on YouTube)

"Specs and delivery dates can change any time, for any reason," Red warned us, when preorders began in August 2017.

No kidding. The full launch of the Hollywood camera company's first phone -- a $1,200+ titanium beast known as the Red Hydrogen, with a "holographic" screen, swappable camera modules and more -- has been slightly delayed until August 2018.

It was originally promised in Q1 and most recently bumped to this summer. Now, the August date is pushing it towards the end of that season.

In a series of posts at the REDUSER.net forum, Red and Oakley founder Jim Jannard says he believes it's for the best, because the extra time has allowed the company to add a key new feature: 4-View video capture.


Filmmaker David Fincher (left) and Brad Pitt (right) react to seeing a prototype of the RED Hydrogen One phone. 

Jarred Land/RED

Originally, the Hydrogen was only going to have a single rear-facing camera like you'd find on a standard smartphone, with the option to add an additional modular camera array that could capture 3D video and convert it into Red's new 4-View format -- where you can move your head to look around and behind objects you see using the phone's "holographic" screen.

But now, Jannard says the phone will come with two pairs of cameras, front and back, so you can capture basic 4V content in real-time, with nothing but the Hydrogen phone itself. Plus, Jannard says the company has a 4V video chat app up and running now.

(Jannard says the included cameras are "best in class cell phone sensors," but that Red plans to offer additional higher-quality camera modules that can capture 3D spacial audio as well.)

Plus, Jannard says the delay will allow Red to launch the Hydrogen simultaneously on multiple cellular carriers. "Organizing a simultaneous launch has proven to be pretty tricky," Jannard writes.

The company founder admits the phone still won't be complete this August. "We have no idea whatsoever what we are doing," writes Jannard, adding that new owners should expect "more firmware/software updates than any phone ever made."

If you enjoy a sobering degree of honesty, you may want to read this note from Jannard in full:

For those who are nervous... let me see if I can offer some comfort.

We have no idea whatsoever what we are doing.

We have never built a phone. No one ever tried to integrate a 4-view display in anything before. When we started this project we didn't know any cell carriers or anything about the cell phone industry. When we launch... the product won't be complete. There will be more firmware/software updates than any other phone ever made. We are learning as we go. Truly, we have no business entering this market.

If that makes you uncomfortable... all I can say is this is exactly the same situation we were in when we announced the RED ONE. We had no idea what we were doing, no clue about the cinema industry, etc. "What does a sunglass guy know about high end cameras?".

You have the right to be nervous. I am. Same as in 2006 when we started to build our 1st camera. But I saw the need to push forward with something better... as I do now. This is the single most exciting thing I have ever worked on. I get that my reputation is on the line. Perfect.

If you are nervous at all, as you have the right to be... sit it out and wait. No shame in that. If you want to jump on and enjoy the ride from the beginning... welcome aboard. I won't forget who took the leap of faith.


Red plans to show off the Hydrogen phone on May 19 at its Hollywood studios. Here are the specs we've compiled so far -- again, subject to change:

  • Runs Android
  • Carrier unlocked
  • 5.7-inch, 2,560x1,440 screen with "nanotechnology" to seamlessly switch between 2D, stereo 3D and 4-View "holographic" display modes
  • Front and back dual stereo cameras with 4V video recording
  • Supports modular attachments, including an upgraded "cinema" camera module and modular batteries
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835X processor (not the new Snapdragon 845)
  • Huge 4,500mAh battery (compare to Galaxy S9 Plus at 3500mAh)
  • Charges over USB-C
  • MicroSD card slot for expanded storage
  • Dual SIM slots
  • Headphone jack
  • Can serve as a touchscreen monitor for Red's other cameras
  • Available in titanium or aluminum with scalloped edges for grip
  • Launching August 2018

Red didn't immediately reply to a request for further comment.