RED’s upcoming $1,200 smartphone is enormous

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We finally have a few more details about RED’s forthcoming $1,200 Hydrogen One smartphone, thanks to a video that Marques Brownlee just posted to YouTube. RED let him take a look at a few different prototypes of the phone: a non-working unit that represents what the final phone will look like, one that shows off the phone’s new “holographic display,” and a third that was a full, separate camera module with its own lens and sensor.

Overall, this was still just another big tease from RED, which has also been showing the phone to celebrities like Brad Pitt. There’s not much more information than what the company already shared at the beginning of July. But we were able to glean a few things from this video.

First off, this thing is huge. The Hydrogen One is “about the same size as an iPhone 7 Plus — with a case on it,” Brownlee says. That’s not terribly surprising, considering how RED wants this phone to be packed with bleeding-edge tech, while serving as the base for a potentially huge modular camera system. A thin, small phone would be no good for that.


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Photo by MKBHD / YouTube

A few other details: the power button will double as a fingerprint reader. There’s a dedicated video record button. There are stereo speakers on the front, and dual-camera setup that was hard to make out in the original press image. And, yes, there’s a headphone jack at the bottom.

As for the unit that shows off the phone’s “holographic display,” all we get to see is Brownlee’s reaction — he even went so far as to blur that phone out in the shot where he uses it. Still, we learned a bit about how it might work. Brownlee says he was shown content that was shot specifically for this “four dimensional” screen, as well as 2D video that was then converted to take advantage of the tech. He says the screen creates a “crazy, deep, sort of 3D look,” but that it “definitely wasn’t perfect,” noting that there was some light bleeding at the edges of the screen and some stuttering in the motion.

The final prototype he saw is a phone-shaped module that has a bigger lens assembly and its own image sensor. It’s an idea that’s basically straight out of the patent application that that I wrote about last month, which shows how RED is thinking of using something like the Hydrogen One to be the gateway to an entirely modular camera system. Pretty wild.

But otherwise, that’s it. RED seems content with letting the slow drip of details continue while fans of the company wrestle with the idea of dropping $1,200 or more to preorder one of these phones in the meantime. Brownlee says that RED will have a working prototype unit within the next 30–45 days, so let the wait continue.

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