Red’s hydrogen one is an ambitious first attempt at a phone by a camera company but the promise of a better than 3d screen doesn’t quite live up to the hype there’s also an average camera in their dated internals. And one of the core functions of the phone won’t be available until the end of 2019. This is definitely not a phone worth buying but there’s good reason to keep an eye on it.
Let’s take a look. No other phone looks like the hydrogen one it’s unique and lab design often draws curious eyes. The backpacks a massive dual camera module at the top with raised lines that lead to a flashy red logo with gold pogo pins below. Kevlar panels lie here with a leaf pattern for added protection and flare minimal. It’s not but it does resemble Reds camera gear the edges of the phone are ridged for better grip they don’t look pretty but they do make this behemoth of a phone easier to hold.
You like the lines texture too as it also helps with grip its camera shutter button on the right edge towards the bottom. And indented the fingerprint sensor on the same side which doubles as a power button. An USB type-C charging port at the bottom and a headphone jack at the top. The fingerprint sensor is quick to react and unlocks the phone pretty quickly. On the front you’ll see an aesthetic similar to the razor phone too chunky bezels at the top and bottom deliver stereo sound. The top bezel also houses two cameras with an LED light that flashes when notifications come through.
There’s a little too much going on all round and even people with large hands will find it cumbersome to use. We constantly had to shuffle it up and down just to be able to reach the top and bottom of the screen. And it’s also very heavy at two hundred and sixty-three grams. Apple’s 6.5 inch iPhone test max weighs just two hundred and eight grams for example.
The build quality however is excellent and the phone feels like it can withstand its fair share of drops. The model we reviewed is made of aluminum but a titanium version is also available at $1595 for even heftier and luxurious feel. There’s a reason for the ridged lines and the pogo pins on the back of the phone.
The redheaded one is a modular phone it’s not magnetic like Motorola’s Moto mods. But mods will attach the back of the phone in some way. Well because it’s currently a promised not delivered feature. Red hasn’t shown any finalized mods yet but we know of three plans so far. A battery mod, an expandable storage mod and a cinema mod. The latter is the most interesting as the company says it will have a red imaging sensor and you will be able to attach lenses from Nikon Sony Canon Fuji film and a variety of other camera makers to the phone to turn it into a proper DSLR. That sounds incredible, just one problem the earliest we expect to see the mod is a full year after the hydrogen ones will release in the fall of 2019. It also sounds like it’ll cost a pretty penny on top of an already expensive phone. While we’re excited to see how it works the long wait and the high price are a serious issue.
Most manufacturers will release an entirely new flagship smartphone by them putting the red hydrogen one well behind the curve before you you’ve ever lay hands on the promised set of the model. It’s a 5.7 inch display with resolution of 560 by 1440 looks good in day-to-day use. Its sharp and delivers strong colors. We had no issues viewing the display outside in broad daylight it’s not gonna beat an iPhone 10 s, Galaxy S 9 or any other flagship phone from major brands. But that’s not why we are here for.
View technology is built straight into the screen and that’s what makes the red hydrogen one special for. View means the screen can display supported content in 3d or as Reds better than 3d. Red hasn’t allowed anyone to take a photograph or video of the screen all year because the company believes it’s something you need to see for yourself to understand. We agree it’s difficult to describe the effect and each person we’ve shown has that official visceral reaction. Now it’s difficult to see this effect on video but the light field display powering the technology is made in partnership with Leia Inc. And it doesn’t require glasses for views.
3d is much more convincing than Amazon’s fire phone and slightly better than the Nintendo 3ds. Images don’t pop out of the screen like a hologram but you can clearly see depth which helps make the subject or an image stand out. The effect isn’t perfect though as it can look fuzzy. It also doesn’t look great at angles and we often found ourselves with a minor headache after staring into view screen for more than a few minutes. So what can you watch in four view if you take four view photos and videos in the camera app? You can look back at them in the red player app.
Red also created an app called the hollow ticks which is kind of like a bare-bones Instagram app. You’re able to share four view photos and videos there but they can only be viewed on the hydrogen one phone. So you’re only in a community with people with the same phone.
The company said it talks with Facebook and Instagram to support the full view file format. But at the end of the day you still need a supported screen. Then there’s also the red lay aloft app. This is essentially a store that lets you download apps and games that support the 4 view screen. Games like flippy knife for example are available and they work in four view but it hardly felt like the effect was being used. It didn’t add anything to the game or the experience.
The hydrogen one has four cameras in total two on the front and two on the back. Both on the back are 12 megapixels each. And you can take four view photos and videos with both the cameras on the front and the back. There’s a button in the camera app that lets you switch to four view camera mode to capture these types of photos or you can stick to 2d. Unfortunately there’s nowhere to really share these pictures except for the hollow pix app which as mentioned only works with people who can use this phone. We can’t show you these photos as you would need a screen that supports the technology to see it. Anyway if you send a four view photo through some other medium the person on the other end will receive a 2d version.
Four view photography is best with an isolated subject or object, as it helps make the image pop out a little more. The photos can look pixelated as if you’re looking at them through a virtual reality headset. But they’re fun to capture and share when you’re with the group of people that can see the results at the same time. It’s not a feature we were inspired to use every day. We’d rather take great 2d photos.
One downside with the four view is, the images tend to look not as good when they are converted to 2d. The 2d photos captured by this phone are good but nothing special. There’s solid HDR when it decides to kick in and photos can look detailed with good colors. Low-light photos can be blurry and grainy though if you’re perfectly still you might snag a shot that looks good. We’re not fans of the portrait mode with the rear cameras though as images look washed out and lacking in detail. However the front camera isn’t so bad. There’s good lighting, good colors and strong detail. In the end the camera isn’t a strong point. It usually takes solid photos and works quickly but we expected more from a camera company.
It’s not a red imaging sensor here. It’s just a standard smartphone camera and as such it’s not as precise as we’d have liked. It’s not as fun as the cameras in the Google pixel 3, the iPhone 10 or 10s or the huawei mate 20 Pro. Red hydrogen-1 is powered by qualcomm snapdragon 835 chipset. A processor from 2017. Most 2018 flagship smartphones use their snapdragon 845 chipset but red says the H 45 wasn’t ready before the company had to finalize its hardware.
There’s also six gigs of ram performance. Initially wasn’t great, we encountered a lot of sluggishness operating the user interface this may be partly because it was a prototype unit. But a recent update seems to have fixed a lot of that problems. Now performance is more than satisfactory. Apps open relatively quickly and moving around the interface is fine. Though the 835 does show its age considering the phone is sold by ATT and Verizon, expect a lot of carrier bloatware. Most of which can be removed otherwise the phone runs a relatively stock version of Android 8.1 Oreo. There’s no word on Android 9 pi but there is a bit of customization available in the phone that lets you tweak it to your liking.
There’s also 128 gigs of internal storage as well as a microSD card ins at the top in case you want to add more space. The hydrogen ones best feature is its battery life which comes courtesy of a massive 4,500 million powered battery packed inside. With medium to heavy use including taking pictures and video playing 4 view games and streaming music and video. We frequently ended the day with a little under 50% by 6:00 p.m. With light usage, we managed to end today with around at 70% left by 5:00 p.m. You definitely don’t need to worry about battery life on this phone. It can easily go 2 days. Most flexible smartphones lasts one day at most. So red is a clear winner here. So impressive tech but four view technology still feels a little gimmicky. There’s a decent amount of content here but there aren’t a lot of places to share it. And even if you can share it somewhere, the first time the other end would still need a red hydrogen one smartphone to be able to view it in that 4 view format.This is clearly the first attempt at a phone by a company with no smartphone experience. But even if you’re interested in this phone for the mod, the cinema mod, that’s coming later in 2019. You may as well wait to purchase this phone in case it gets a cheaper.
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