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The Hydrogen One Phone Was a Bust, But Red’s Promising a Sequel

The Red Hydrogen One may have been a critical and commercial failure, though apparently it's inspired Red enough to pursue a successor.

Red Hydrogen One

(Image credit: Future)

Red founder Jim Jannard took to yesterday (July 23) to announce that a new device, called the Red Hydrogen 2, is currently in development, per a story from The Verge. Jannard also took the opportunity to slam the Hydrogen One's original design manufacturer (ODM) for "significantly underperforming" and neglecting to address known faults with the firm's first phone.

Red has apparently partnered with a new ODM, which has also allowed it to restart design on the camera module that was initially planned for the Hydrogen One after the phone's release, yet never saw the light of day. The module was supposed to transform the Hydrogen One into a professional-grade system comparable with Red's own digital cameras.

The Hydrogen One released through Verizon and AT&T in October 2018, along with an unlocked version. Months followed with no news on the development of the promised camera add-on, until all mentions of the module were unceremoniously scrubbed from Red's website in March. At the time, Jannard cryptically said that the company's smartphone program was undergoing "changes." The module appeared to have been shelved.

According to Jannard's latest post, Red has completed a "new and extraordinary sensor and redesigned the package." The revised module, named Komodo, will reportedly interface with both the Hydrogen One and upcoming Hydrogen Two.

Given the troubles Hydrogen One owners encountered in the run up to and following the handset's launch, Jannard also said that those owners will receive "significant preferential treatment for the Hydrogen Two and/or new Cinema Camera model, both in delivery allocations and pricing."

Red had ambitious goals for the Hydrogen One, developing a never-before-seen holographic 4-View display technology, file type and distribution channels for 4-View content. However, while the three-dimensionality of 4-View content was occasionally impressive, the phone itself was outdated, overpriced (it started at $1,300), and glitchy — particularly when shifting between conventional 2D content and 4-View media.

Jannard didn't give away any clues as to when we can expect to see the Hydrogen Two in the flesh, but it's worth remembering that there more than a year elapsed between when the Hydrogen One was teased and when it finally arrived. Jannard did mention in his post that the Komodo module will be revealed "fairly soon."