Review Of The 'Unique' Red Hydrogen One

Author - Nov 02, 2018

Review Of The 'Unique' Red Hydrogen One

The Red Hydrogen One comes with interesting features like the 3D display, battery and camera modules and along with other interest things that make it the most specialized smartphone among many alike phones in the current market.

The new smartphone of Red called Hydrogen One smartphone launches at the point where phones all look alike. Many have a large screen, probably come with a notch as well and inside a rectangular body with either iOS or Android software. But now in 2018, we are seeing some specializations.

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You have probably never seen a phone like this Red Hydrogen One

This Hydrogen One may be the most specialized smartphone of all. It the first Android phone made by Red, a camera company based in California that is well-known for bleeding-edge video cameras used in filming famous movies like Ant-Man 2 and Deadpool 2.

As you would expect from a company that has a really solid background in video and such, they aim to deliver impressive quality in video, audio as well as photos in a smartphone that you can keep in your own pocket. The phone even enables users to add modules, including one for lens mount and one for a cinema camera sensor releasing in 2019.

But that is not the only thing that makes it unique as Red also offers a 3D display for its phone. Without playing 3D content, the display will switch the to a normal 2D display. This is a feature that you have to actually see it in real life instead of just 2D photos to know how impressive it is.

But obviously, innovation usually does not go along with cheap. This phone will be sold from November 2 and it is priced at $1,295 for the aluminum model and $1,595 for the titanium model. Yes, the prices are higher than Galaxy Note 9 and iPhone XS Max.

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The aluminum and Kevlar back model of the Hydrogen One

The 3D holographic screen of Hydrogen One

The 3D display is probably the feature that attract the most attention. The screen of Hydrogen One is part hologram and part 3D which is called 4V (4-View). There is a nano light field under the LCD screen that produces the 3D effect. The 4V effect will give a layered depth to 4V video and photos.

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Red said that you don't need a glass to enjoy the 3D effect with its Hydrogen One

And obviously, when you buy an expensive phone with a 3D screen, you are probably going to watch 3D contents with it. And that’s why Red created an ecosystem for 4V content. There is an app called Red Hydrogen Network to find 4V videos, shows and also movies. If you want to play games in 4V, there is the Leia/Red Loft app. There is an app with Instagram style called Holopix that you can use to post 4V photos.

You can also create content in 3D by yourself by using the front as well as back cameras to take photos and videos in 4V.

Cameras of Red Hydrogen One can capture photos and videos in both 2D and '4V'

There are two identical 12MP cameras at the phone's back. But the second camera is not used for zooming like Note 9 or iPhone XS. Both cameras are paired stereoscopically which allows users to take 4V videos and photos. And whenever you capture 4V photos and videos, it will also save those in 2D so don’t be worried.

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There are two identical cameras the at the back of the Hydrogen One

But you can only take 4V photos in landscape mode with the rear cameras and 4V selfies in portrait mode. There are also two 8MP cameras at the front that are used to capture 3D selfies.

I will not include 4V photos here because you would not have the full experience without a Hydrogen One phone. In terms of 2D photo’s quality, I personally find it pretty good. For people who like taking a lot of selfies then this may not be the one as it does not have the digital perfection of Google Pixel 3 or Smart HDR from iPhone XS. Photos taken by Hydrogen One’s cameras have an analog film quality. It’s like you just use a film camera to ttake the photo as it looks a bit more natural and also more realistic to me. However, photos in low-light may be suffered from softness and noise.

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Despite excellent exposure of the man in the middle, the signs in the shadow with "One job is enough" can still be easily seen

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You can clearly see that there are many noises in this photo, indicating one of the weakness of the Hydrogen One is low-light photos

Red also promised to deliver a battery and cinema camera modules in 2019. The cinema camera module is believed to feature an image sensor as well as an interchangeable lens mount to attach lenses from famous camera makers like Nikon, Leica, Canon, and Sony.

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The normal Hydrogen One (right) and the Hydrogen One with the Camera Modular Accessory (left)

The camera app of the phone is really well-organized. I can take control over video and photos manually. The transparent adjust color pop-up is just brilliant if you want to quickly change to brightness, contrast, color temperature and also saturation.

But while testing the phone, I experienced some lag or even frozen issues and those issues often happened when I switched from rear to front cameras.

The video quality of Hydrogen One at launch is pretty disappointing

Red, a camera company, is expected to deliver a smartphone with great video capturing cameras. The 2D video looks pretty in daylight. I can film videos in 4K at 24fps or 30fps but that is all. It cannot go higher to 60fps like Galaxy Note 9 or iPhone XS. Moreover, in situations where it is medium or low light, quality of the image looks soft and noise, compared to iPhone Xs in particular.

The slow-motion feature supports record speeds at 2x and 4x. The video recorded at 120fps with 720p resolution does not look great while Galaxy Note 9 and iPhone XS can do a much better job in capturing slow-motion video at 240fps in 1080p resolution.
Even though the video quality is better than the majority of mid-range Android smartphones but the fact that the Hydrogen One price falls in the high-end segment make it disappointing.

Build quality of the Hydrogen One is very solid

The phone is built with a Kevlar and aluminum back with very loud dual speakers than Note 9 and iPhone XS.

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You can easily hold the phone firmly in your hand

It still has a headphone jack, a charging USB-C port and its storage is still expandable via microSD slot.

It is a good “2017” Android phone

The phone is currently running a version of Android 8.1 which is similar to the stock version but Red has not released any information relating to updating it to Android 9.

It is powered by a battery of 4,500mAh which is pretty impressive. If playing video constantly on airplane mode, this phone lasts for 14 hours in average compared to more than 9 hours of the Razer Phone 2 with 5.7-inch display and 4,000mAh battery.

With the 2017 Snapdragon 835, it would have been among the fastest smartphone if it had been released in 2017 or earlier in 2018. But unfortunately, most of the flagship phones are now equipped with a newer Snapdragon 845 so I wouldn’t need to compare its performance to other flagships. However, even if the phone has a 2017 processor, it still offers a smooth experience with fast speed in opening apps. Personally, I think it is enough for my daily use without any issue except for the Holopix apps and the camera as those two are sometimes unresponsive and require restarting to work again.

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Benchmarks of the Hydrogen One compared to other popular flagship smartphones

Besides its 3D display, Red also offers A3D which can turn stereo audio into surround sound over speakers of the phone or headphones. Its performance may be varied but you can easily toggle that effect on and off.

As a whole, the Hydrogen One shows the ambition of Red to get into the high-end phone market. But the phone still needs a bit more polish. Hopefully, Red will learn from their mistakes and make a better phone in the future.

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