The RED Smartphone That Does 3D, VR, AR and Holographs – Say Hello to the RED Hydrogen

The RED Smartphone That Does 3D, VR, AR and Holographs - Say Hello to the RED Hydrogen

The RED Cinema Hydrogen just announced today is a surprising move away from RED’s bread and butter camera brand. This RED Android OS smartphone promises 3D, VR, AR and holographic display capabilities, and being able to seamlessly switch between all the different modes.

RED smartphone

Credit: RED Cinema

With a cryptic post on in late June, CEO of RED Cinema Jarred Land certainly got the rumor mill churning. The post didn’t reveal much information. Here’s the full text:

“July 6th. 9am PDT (Pacific Daylight Time). Right here. You need to be online. You need to tell everyone you know to be online. Have your credit card ready. This is a new product category. It does not impact your RED camera. Jim.”

Speculation ranged from new product categories such as a RED-branded cell phone (Ding, ding ding!) to a drone with a built-in RED camera. Many, many people – too many people, in fact – logged into the forums around 9AM PST today to find out, and promptly overloaded RED’s servers. First we were greeted with this message:

And then this:

After a few dozen presses of the refresh button, and despite the warnings, we finally got a glimpse of the new RED Cinema Hydrogen smartphone. The phone seems aimed both at gamers and, as you might expect, owners and operators already working in the RED camera ecosystem. Features such as controlling RED cameras (Epic, Scarlet and Weapon) directly from the phone and using the phone as a high resolution monitor seem especially useful, but seamless support for 3D, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Holographic content really seem to be the device’s unique selling points.

Like other RED camera systems, the Hydrogen has been built with a modular design that will allow for future upgrades such as the ability to shoot even higher quality motion and stills. Interestingly, the option to shoot holographic images using the phone will not be included when the Hydrogen ships (Q1 2018), but will be added in a promised future module attachment. RED promises that there will be other optional accessories available at launch.

The Hydrogen comes with a proprietary H30 algorithm that will convert stereo into multi-dimensional audio. Obviously we haven’t had a chance to listen to this multi-dimensional audio yet, but this could be a major selling point if it works as advertised.

RED is also creating a channel specifically for holographic content dubbed simply “RED Channel”. With this platform you’ll be able to view documentaries, movies, games and more in .h4v format. Where this wealth of .h4v holographic content comes from remains to be seen.

The barrier to entry for consumers trying to view 3D content has always been the need for clunky glasses to view. Thankfully, the Hydrogen requires no glasses to view 3D or holographic content, but I suspect that may lead to restrictions with the viewing angle for 3D.

Many questions remain such as screen resolution and type of camera embedded at shipping time and we’ll update as new information arrives.

RED Cinema Hydrogen – Tech Highlights: 

  • 5.7″ Professional Hydrogen Holographic Display
  • Android Operating System
  • Support for holographic RED Hydrogen 4-View content (H4V)
  • Viewing Modes: AR, MR, VR, Holographic, 2D, 3D in Landscape or Portrait
  • Integrated support for RED Cameras – Monitor and Control
  • Selfie and Back Camera
  • 5.1 Style Audio Through Headphone Jack
  • Internal Storage With Expandable Micro SD Slot
  • USB-C Cable/Charger

We know there is a healthy group out there willing to drop $1595.00 on a comparatively cheap (to other RED Cinema products) RED branded smartphone, but is there a mass market for a phone like this? The smartphone market itself is also extremely competitive and dominated by international brands such as Samsung and Apple. Other large brands such as Microsoft and Amazon have found breaking into the phone segment a difficult task. Either way, RED as a company has proven their tech disruption chops before and it will be interesting to watch the lifecycle of the Hydrogen.

Stay tuned for the latest information as it becomes available. For now, make sure to check out RED’s official announcement HERE.

*UPDATE: RED Cinema CEO Jim Jannard posted an update on the forums responding to initial comments on the Hydrogen. Check it out HERE.

Shipping: Q1 2018 – Pre-Order from RED HERE.

Cost: $1195 (Aluminum), $1595.00 (Titanium) – Tax, shipping and handling not included.

What do you think of the Hydrogen? Is breaking into the crowded smartphone market a smart play for RED Cinema? Who is the perfect end user for this phone? Comment below!


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