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Amid confusion, the Red Hydrogen team promises a pro in-device camera

Christian de Looper/Digital Trends

The Red Hydrogen One was met with a lot of hype — after all, it is a smartphone designed by a camera company — but the camera is just OK and the mods designed to make the smartphone even better aren’t even here yet. But for photographers disappointed by the first-generation Hydrogen, there is already another one in the works — and a Pro version at that. In a forum post on Monday, March 12, Red founder Jim Jannard revealed that the company is working on a pro camera version of the smartphone.

The post was written in response to the users that noticed that the company had removed the images of the 2D modules promised later this year from the website. Red promised modules like an advanced camera and battery add-on to the smartphone to arrive sometime in 2019. Jannard says that the company removed the images because it is “in the middle of radically changing the Hydrogen program.”

While the post doesn’t offer many details, Jannard says that Red’s photo team will be responsible for an in-device camera on the upcoming model. “A series of obstacles and then new discoveries have given us the opportunity to significantly improve the entire program, not only for Hydrogen but also for Red,” Jannard said. “The changes create new opportunities to better satisfy the professional image capture customers as well as the casual consumer for the Hydrogen program.” The team, he says, is as before, but the team designing Red cameras is designing the pro camera for Hydrogen instead of the Hydrogen team.

Jannard says the Hydrogen One is still “alive and well,” adding that a 4V update is coming in about two weeks. He also added that the Hydrogen One won’t be obsolete when the pro camera version comes out.

But what is unclear is exactly what kind of in-device image-capture system is coming, and how it won’t make the current smartphone obsolete. Oh, and through the entire post, Jannard doesn’t say whether or not the previously promised modules, now missing from the website, are still coming. 

An upgraded Red smartphone may be a good move for the company, since the original has a camera that is standard and not Red-worthy along with an outdated processor. But Jannard’s vague update leaves more questions than answers about what the new in-device camera will entail, and how much more a pro-level camera will drive up the price since the first generation starts at nearly $1,300. Here’s hoping that the company will finish filing patents soon and shed some light on what’s next.

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