Increasingly, smartphones are looking more and more like each other. Slim bezels. Dual cameras. No headphone jack. Glass backs. Why? It's simple, really — there's not much left to add.
Instead of innovating the form factor and shape of smartphones, manufacturers have largely taken to improving internal components, including beefing up the processor, adding more RAM, and designing their smartphones in ways that make it more water resistant. As a result, there aren't a lot of elements that differentiate the Samsung Galaxy S9 from, say, the LG V30 or the iPhone X from the OnePlus 6.
One company, however, has ambitious plans for its own smartphone. Red's upcoming Hydrogen One is unlike every single phone it's competing with: it's boxy, it's rugged, and it doesn't mimic the sheer polish of other sleek phones. The Verge recently had the chance to get their hands on Red's upcoming phone, and it's clear the company is trying to accomplish something big with this phone, but whether it can do that is another story.
Red, better known for its line of filmmaking cameras, doesn't want to enter the smartphone landscape just to sell yet another Android phone, as The Verge notes. The Hydrogen One is supposed to be one piece of a modular system of cameras and other media production equipment — in fact, Red says it'll be "the foundation of a future multi-dimensional media system."
As such, the phone features a big set of pogo pins on the back, which will allow it to be connected to Red's other devices and will also let users attach peripherals to the phone, including, most notably, lens mounts.
Red's first planned peripheral is a camera sensor, and there's very little to share now except that it's going to be a huge one. Red is tight-lipped on the details, but it appears the ultimate goal is to make the Hydrogen One capable of integrating traditional camera lenses into a smartphone body. That means it will supposedly work with Nikon, Canon, Fuji, and Leica lenses.
The Hydrogen One boasts a new display technology Red likes to call "4-view," which allows users to turn the standard 2,560 x 1,440 screen into a 3D display or a holographic view. Holograms, for the uninitiated, is a unique technology that projects elements into the real-world. Think of R2-D2 projecting Princess Leia's message in Star Wars. That, however, isn't how Hydrogen One's holographic display works.
"It's a hologram, basically, but it doesn't really pop out of the screen so much as give you depth within it. I wouldn't describe this screen as the reason to go out and buy this phone, but it was neat," says The Verge.
At a time when smartphones are looking more and more alike, it's a bit refreshing to see more experimental attempts, but the thing with the Hydrogen One is that it's being vaulted into the mainstream smartphone space largely through excessive hype and big promises from the company. Whether Red can deliver on its promises is something we'll have to find out.
Preorders for the Hydrogen One are open now. It costs $1,595 for the titanium version and $1,195 for the aluminum one. Check out The Verge's hands-on video below: