The Red Hydrogen One is a new smartphone from the Red camera company. The company is known for building
I first became aware of this phone when I was looking at my upgrade choices on AT&T. I am a Content Creator on the web and so that is the aspect of the phone that caught my interest. In researching the Hydrogen One online I found a LOT of negative reviews from websites like Mashable and The Verge as well as from well known Content Creators like Marqus Brownlee.
“Red Dead, No Redemption,” says the title of the review by The Verge. The header image at the top of the page that the review was on shows a front and back view of the Hydrogen One sitting beside a pair of 3D glasses. Why? The Hydrogen One does have a cool display that lets you see into images in a 3D way (called h4v) but it is not traditional 3D, you do not need any glasses and it also allows you to quote regular images and video just fine.
Maybe the easiest way for me to start this article is to talk about some of the things that the story on The Verge got right and what it got wrong. I think that the author came to the conclusion that he did because he focused on what he interpreted as bad points of the device (if only because they were not marketed very well) while being low key on everything the phone gets right. I do agree that the pre-launch marketing by Red was not the best and in fact may have been pretty much non-existent in terms of reaching the general public.
From what I see it looks like they sent some demo versions of the phone to some high profile Content Creators and some media outlets without any selectivity whatsoever and without providing enough information on the phone. Yes, the “holographic” aspect of the phone is something new and different in how it is created if not in general terms and yes, you need the specific hardware and software on the phone to be able to view the holographic part of the display. But, I think that it is really cool to integrate a brand new technology into a device like that.
If you look beyond the appeal that the 3D component of the device may have to everyday people there is another aspect to the thinking behind its inclusion. I saw someone quote Red founder Jim Jannard as saying it was also something that would allow film directors to see the shot as it was happening in the same way the audience would see it without using a VR headset for the whole shoot and that is pretty cool. For me that is the point of owning the Hydrogen One, it allows me to do better things as a Creator than I could with my iPhone 6 S+ and offers the promise of more and better things to come.
Comparing The Hydrogen One To Other Phones
Another thing that the Verge review talks a lot about is
One area where the phone beats all the other competitors listed above is in screen resolution. At a respectable
1440 x 2560 pixels it is way ahead of the pack. The closest competitor is Apple iPhone XS Max with a screen resolution of 1242×2688 pixels which
Since the phone is supposed to be “for” Content Creators then it makes sense that Red would have put most of their own time and effort into the camera of the phone and into the uses that the phone has in conjunction with their other cameras and with the new modules that are being created for the Hydrogen One. In this respect, I really like what they have achieved so far. The native camera app, by Red, has more manual controls than my iPhone 6 S+ did and the resulting images are crisp and clean as long as I set it right. The auto mode on the camera works well too in most instances.
The controls that are included with the native camera app are shutter speed and iso as well as a Bokeh control that does a nice job simulating the aperture function of a bigger camera. I have seen Red founder Jim Jannard quoted as having called the Hydrogen ONe (possibly with a coming camera add-on) a “mirrorless killer” and, given the current popularity of mirrorless cameras and their current capabilities, that is a tall order to fill but one I am looking forward to. Also, HDR and AF/AE are there and even a photo editor for h4v photos that has more abilities than one might expect. That alone is worth its own article/video.
I think that everything about the phone and the related websites/networks that go with it was pretty well developed but that all can be seen as a work in progress. Of course, I have to acknowledge that the Hydrogen One is not a device for everyone. If you like to create or consume media on your mobile device then it may well be great for you. It has #D/surround sound (with headphones) so it is great to watch movies or videos on. It can take amazing photos and videos and reduces the amount of gear you need to have with you so that is awesome whether you are a Content Creator or just someone who likes to take photos and videos of your family and friends.
If you are a user who really just wants a phone then this might be a better phone for you. Even gamers are covered in the intentions of the Hydrogen One. A module that is mentioned as being one of those under consideration or development is a game control module. For now, the phone is something that certainly CAN be used by anyone who wants a smartphone but it is best suited for people who love to create or view content. This is said right on the badge on the back of the phone: “Red Media Machine”.
I do not think that there is anything to be disappointed in as far as the Hydrogen One goes.