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Red Hydrogen phone project breathes its last as founder retires

RED Hydrogen One back
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The Red Hydrogen Project is no more. The failed smartphone project from Red Digital Cinema has been closed down by founder Jim Jannard, who used a short blog post on the company’s forum to announce both this news and his impending retirement.

“Just now turning 70 and having a few health issues, it is now time for me to retire,” Jannard wrote. “I will be shutting down the Hydrogen project, ending a career that has included Oakley, Red Digital Cinema, and Hydrogen.”

The Red Hydrogen One was highly anticipated, but ultimately under-delivered, and its potential will never be reached now the project has been canceled. Following several delays, the Hydrogen One was released at the end of 2018, and had intriguing features including a 3D display, and a modular design. One proposed accessory, called the Cinema Mod, would include a Red imaging sensor and utilize camera lenses from major manufacturers.

Sadly, the Red Hydrogen One did not live up to expectation, the modular parts did not arrive, and Digital Trends didn’t recommend buying it in our review. We noted it may be worth watching should the modular components that were promised ever be released, but this will obviously not happen now. The Hydrogen One will be consigned to the smartphone history books as a missed opportunity. What happened? Producing smartphones is a tough business, especially for the newcomer.

In a blog post earlier this year, Jannard wrote that it was, “the single most challenging program I have ever been a part of,” and pointed the finger at manufacturing partners in China as part of the problem, saying one unnamed partner had been under-performing to the extent that fixing issues was impossible. In the same blog post, it was confirmed the company was working on the Hydrogen Two. With the closure of the Hydrogen project, the Hydrogen Two will almost certainly never exist.

What does this mean for those who did splash out at least $1,300 for the Hydrogen One? Jannard promises the phone will continue to be supported in the future, although specifics regarding software, features, and any accessories are not mentioned. If you’re interested in buying a new camera phone we have our recommendations here, or fancy a new DSLR, we’ve got recommendations for those right here too.

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