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09 July 2017

RED’s Hydrogen One patent drawings reveal how it’s really a camera pretending to be a phone

We haven’t touched it, and we’re not even sure how it’ll work, but RED’s Hydrogen One phone is so mysterious that even its patent filing drawings are fascinating. And revealing. 

The modular phone, which promises to switch between “traditional 2D content, holographic multi-view content, 3D content, and interactive games,” looks fairly minimalist in the shadowy photos released so far. But in the patent filing drawings, the phone looks a lot more interested in filmmaking than the photos would indicate. 

Image: United States Patent and Trademark Office

Much of what we see in the patent drawings, surfaced by The Verge, are indications of how the modular phone might connect to different components like lenses, lens mounts, and other accessories. In one drawing, the assemblage looks far more like a camera than a smartphone, which makes sense given RED’s usual focus on producing high-end cameras that have been used by some of Hollywood’s leading directors. 

Image: United States Patent and Trademark Office

One component, described as a “Brain module,” would contain various image sensors. The document devotes most of its written material to outlining the numerous ways in which various lenses and lens mounts can be interchanged to give the device different functionalities. 

Image: United States Patent and Trademark Office

Overall, this doesn’t sound or look like a device the common smartphone user will flock to due to its sheer complexity, but for amateur and pro filmmakers, it could be what many have been waiting for. 

And when you consider how much Apple has been pushing its iPhone as a filmmaking device, it begins to make a lot more sense that RED would attempt to ramp things up to the next level and give filmmakers a “super” smartphone that might deliver even better results than the iPhone. 

The 5.7-inch Hydrogen One is an Android phone that will sell for between $1,195 and $1,595 in the first half of 2018.

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