Three “Disappointing” Early Reviews of the RED Hydrogen One

RED Hydrogen One Reviews
RED’s highly anticipated RED Hydrogen One isn’t quite off to a hot start…

While the focus for filmmakers regarding the RED Hydrogen One will always be on the new smartphone camera’s video recording capabilities (both regular and RED’s new 3D “4V”), it’s hard not to get caught up in the poor across the board reviews that are starting to pop up online as the RED Hydrogen One is making its rounds to select reviewers.

Let’s look at three hands-on reviews of RED Hydrogen One prototypes to see what if the ambitious camera smartphone might have a place for filmmakers or consumers.  

The Verge’s RED Hydrogen One Review

In this hands on review, Jacob Kastrenakes of The Verge, really hits hard on the RED Hydrogen One for being “a $1,300 mess of a phone.” Kastrenakes really takes issue with the cameraphone’s “4V” or “4 View” functionality as both nauseating and unappealing. It’s hard to see yet in many of these reviews, but this 3D functionality is the biggest point of contention so far. However, Kastrenakes also gives the RED Hydrogen One its best marks for its video capabilities, which might just be a lone point of interest for some filmmakers.

Marques Brownlee’s Hopeful RED Hydrogen One Review

Popular Youtuber Marques Brownlee was another source to get a hands-on review of the RED Hydrogen One, yet was only able to show certain elements of the two seperate prototypes in his video review. Similar to the Verge, Brownlee had less-than-ideal reviews of many of the Hydrogen One’s functions and features - albeit while admitting his hope for the cameraphone’s future.

RED Hydrogen One 4K Video Sample

Finally, in one of the rare few online videos showcasing real footage from the RED Hydrogen One, Youtube channel PhoneArena Samples gives a glimpse at some actual 4K footage (3840 x 2160 resolution). The footage and colors look alright in the upload, as the Youtuber also shows some of the Hydrogen One’s digital zoom capabilities, but overall leaves a mixed impression with most commentators for the “jelly” shutter and lack of distinction from iPhone’s 4K.

As filmmakers and video professionals, what are your expectations for the RED Hydrogen One - and would you consider putting up the $1,300 to invest in it?     

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Your Comment


I'm typing this on my Hydrogen One.
While I'm glad to own one, I think all the criticism the phone is getting is completely valid.
One thing many people fail to understand is that "RED Digital Cinema" and "RED Media Machine" are completely different divisions of RED, barely associated with each other. Jim Jannard is mostly the only connecting link.
In my opinion, they made a mistake giving the phone a RED badge. It should be a Leia phone, with RED modules.
The expectations have been WAY higher than they should have been.
The attempt to market the phone under RED's trusted name has backfired. It hurts RDC more than it helps RMM.

November 12, 2018 at 11:46AM, Edited November 12, 11:46AM


I remember visiting Japan in the mid 1990s and seeing iMode phones. They were lightyears ahead of the clumsy, large, and heavy flip-phones of the day. But they, too were works in progress.

I've shown my Hydrogen phone to over 100 people. I don't tell them anything ahead of time. I just show the. An image and the watch as their jaw hits the floor...which it does 90% of the time. I think these negative reviews are missing the larger picture. They are benchmarking against today and not looking toward the future.

November 12, 2018 at 1:01PM, Edited November 12, 1:01PM


Truthfully when I put it next to my 3DS I can't decide which is better.
And the 3DS is a sub $200 eight year old consumer product.
And it could also take and share 3D pictures.

The best 3D I've witnessed was from a prototype Dolby TV where off axis the image didn't flicker, but was 2D.

November 12, 2018 at 2:41PM


The jello effect on a simple video, as displayed here, Just pan and tilt is jaw dropping for sure.

November 12, 2018 at 5:47PM

DoP freelance cameraman 4K HK & Shanghai.

Red needs to focus solely on the camera and forget about the stupid 4D screen. If 3D tech failed to dominate people's televisions during the big RealD/HDTV craze, it's not going to last long on their phone either, no matter how good it is. RealD looked amazing in theaters and on TVs and it never quite grabbed enough people. 2D is here to stay.

As phones become more and more similar, less and less people are opting to upgrade them. The camera remains the number one reason why people upgrade their phones. The quality between the Pixel and the iPhone is extremely minute. And the limiting factor of all these smart phone cameras is their sensor size. There is only so much performance you can squeeze out of that small of a sensor. If Red had skipped the gimmicky 4D crap and just released this phone with the working camera modules, they would have probably delivered this product on time and to great fanfare. I'd love to have a Red sensor in my pocket and the ability to transform my phone into a serious camera while on trips. But the 4D stuff... no one cares. Too bad Red couldn't see that.

November 12, 2018 at 4:12PM, Edited November 12, 4:14PM

Director, Cinematographer

Great comment! Totally agree that a larger sensor, if possible, orwhatever new tech that can get RAW pics like 22 megapixels in a phone will be a best seller! 4D, 3D, etc...not so practical at all. Photographers will love to use a phone for part of their work if you get enough RAW pixels!

November 13, 2018 at 1:09AM

You voted '+1'.
Javier Diez

I can’t be the only person not surprised the phone sucks.

November 12, 2018 at 8:04PM, Edited November 12, 8:04PM

Will Thomas
Director, DOP, Editor, Colorist

Then, it is still a work in progress! Awww

November 12, 2018 at 8:48PM, Edited November 12, 8:48PM

Cesar O Perez-Beato