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The worst tech product of 2018


It really works • Battery life lasts lengthy • Loud front-facing stereo audio system

‘Holographic show’ is rubbish • Cumbersome • shoddily-built development • So gargantuan it hurts to carry • Laughably outdated Android interface • The place the hell are the modules?

RED deserves credit score for operating in the other way of cellular developments with the Hydrogen One. It’s too dangerous they made all the incorrect decisions.

The most important loser of 2018, the worst telephone — no, worst product — launched this yr is, sadly, RED’s Hydrogen One telephone.

Virtually the whole lot concerning the Hollywood cinema digital camera maker’s first smartphone is horrible.

The Hydrogen One has been one massive disappointment after one other because it was introduced final yr. If its gargantuan, design, dated specs, and exorbitant $1,300 beginning worth for the aluminum model ($1,600 when you purchased the titanium model) doesn’t flip you off, the whole lot else about this monstrosity will.

This assessment might have come months in the past, however I needed to provide the telephone and its gimmicky and not-at-all holographic “holographic show” a good probability as shotgun to my iPhone (I’m a two telephone man — all the time an iPhone and Android).

For the primary week ending in October, I actually tried my greatest to offer the Hydrogen One a shot as my every day driver (i.e. as my essential telephone).

Whereas preliminary evaluations slammed the telephone’s digital camera for being full rubbish, I secretly hoped the handful of post-launch software program updates may resolve most of the points and perhaps make the telephone a sleeper hit.

Sadly, almost two months into carrying the Hydrogen One telephone, I need to declare it the dud of the yr.

At a press launch with service associate AT&T in late October, RED founder and CEO Jim Jannard candidly summed up the telephone earlier than it even launched: “We do not know what we’re doing.”

Massive and hefty

The “scalloped” sides are imagined to make the telephone simpler to grip, however they don’t.

Picture: raymond wong/mashable

The Hydrogen One is technically a telephone, however I didn’t get the sense Jannard cared for it as a tool for making calls, or texting, or shopping the online.

As he re-introduced the Hydrogen to press and lots of who hadn’t seen it through the firm’s restricted preview occasions earlier than, I might sense he was extra enthusiastic on the concept of merely doing one thing totally different.

Jannard, in any case, was suggested by his family and friends he’d by no means succeed difficult Ray-Ban when he began Oakley sun shades and he’d by no means supplant Hollywood movie digital camera powerhouses like ARRI or Panovision with RED digital cameras, and look how that labored in his favor. His two corporations ended up disrupting two industries.

Check out those volume buttons.

Take a look at these quantity buttons.


Whereas telephone makers copy one another and race to the demise to shrink the notch, take away it altogether, slim down the bezels, and construct foldable telephones, Jannard and firm tried to dazzle by operating in the other way.

As an alternative of a thinner and sleeker glass-and-metal “sandwich,” the Hydrogen One is a thick and monstrous chunk of metallic with aggressive-looking “scalloped” sides and a hanging bottom with a outstanding RED jewel emblem. The system is massive, heavy, and such a menacing tank that I stored considering of the telephone as brass knuckles each time I gripped it. Critically, you may in all probability bludgeon somebody with it. And good luck placing them in your pants pocket — don’t be stunned if the telephone rips your denims.

Not your typical phone design, that's for sure.

Not your typical telephone design, that’s for positive.


At first I sorta appreciated the dimensions. Typing on it was a very good expertise since your arms aren’t so cramped holding it. However the telephone’s so darn heavy it began to harm simply utilizing it every single day. And concerning the scalloped sides — they’re presupposed to make the telephone simpler to grip, however I ended up dropping the telephone extra occasions than units manufactured from extra slippery glass. 

I don’t have an issue with the bruises (principally scratches and dents) from dropping or banging up a telephone (I kinda dig the battle-scarred look), however this telephone’s constructed like a tank. It ought to a minimum of survive higher in my filthy filth and lint-filled backpack higher than an iPhone XS or Galaxy Word 9. And but it doesn’t.

My first evaluation unit someway acquired an extended scratch proper between the twin rear cameras. The glass is sapphire, which ought to be fairly darn scratch-resistant. You both want one other piece of sapphire glass or a cloth that’s more durable like diamond to scratch it, however that wasn’t the case. I had solely unboxed it and pocketed it in my denims and gone to lunch. Once I got here again it was broken.

My second unit’s sapphire digital camera cowl fared higher, however the bruising from every day put on and tear has made me query its build-quality, particularly for the worth.

Mediocre at each flip

So. Much. Bezel.

So. A lot. Bezel.


Like I stated, if the unorthodox design doesn’t offend you, the remainder of the telephone will.

The bezels above and under the 5.7-inch show (2,560 x 1,440) are the most important I’ve seen on any telephone launched this yr. However they’re big for good purpose: They include two very loud front-facing stereo audio system. 

An enormous “brow” and “chin” are wonderful once they’re purposeful (like on the Pixel three or Razer Telephone 2), however on the Hydrogen One, the cutouts for issues like the twin selfie cameras, proximity sensor, and speaker grills are sunken in and gather mud. In consequence, typically my selfies have little speckles of mud across the edges.

There’s a devoted recording button on the appropriate aspect of the telephone — in case it wasn’t clear what this telephone’s precedence is — which opens the digital camera for those who long-press it. It’s cool, however a double-press of the facility button on many Android telephones does the identical.

The telephone’s marquee function — its extremely anticipated “holographic show” or what RED formally calls “Four-View” — is horrible in each sense. It’s nothing greater than a touch higher model of the glasses-free show on the Nintendo 3DS. 

There’s nothing “holographic” about something that pops off the show, which is to say it’s not delivering holograms within the Star Wars sense, the place an individual or object floats in mid-air. As an alternative, it principally tips your eyes into considering there’s depth to the picture.

You can't see it, but this picture has depth like a 3D photo does.

You possibly can’t see it, however this image has depth like a 3D photograph does.


It wouldn’t be as disappointing if the 3D was a minimum of spectacular, however it isn’t. It’s mediocre. Viewing angles, whereas barely higher than a Nintendo 3DS’s show, are poor when viewing holographic content material anyplace outdoors of dead-center. And the decision of the holographic content material is extraordinarily low.

The display is so dangerous some individuals stated it harm their eyes wanting on the holographic content material. At the least on the Nintendo 3DS there’s a bodily slider to regulate the depth of the 3D depth if the utmost setting is an excessive amount of in your eyes.

The “holographic show” is mediocre.

You understand how everybody all the time says “content material is king?” Nicely, it actually wanted to be true on the Hydrogen Another than some other gadget, and it failed. Holographic Four-View photographs look dangerous and you may solely take these particular 3D photographs in panorama mode and never portrait. You can also solely view them in Four-View inside the RED Participant app and never Google Photographs. And on the subject of restricted viewing, the depth in these Four-View pics can solely seen on one other Hydrogen One.

Holographic apps are downloaded from the RED|LeiaLoft app; video games like Asphalt eight help the particular show however not many others. And take it from me, nearly as good as a recreation as Asphalt eight is in 2D, it’ll offer you a headache and make you wanna puke in 3D.

Then there’s the Hydrogen Community, a spot to lease and purchase “holographic” films. There are some massive movies like Star Wars: The Final Jedi, Prepared Participant One, and The Avengers, however I’d advise you to avoid these identical to the crappy holographic video games.

The normal 2D viewing is equally dangerous. The display’s too dim and you may truly see the pixels which are used to create the Four-View impact. When you thought a show with a PenTile pixel array was dangerous, the Hydrogen One’s show takes it to a different degree.

Somebody needs to tell RED its icons need work.

Someone wants to inform RED its icons want work.


And it will get worse. Sure, it actually does. Although I’ve no issues with the responsive fingerprint sensor/energy button sunken into one of many proper scalloped sides, or the quick charging, or the headphone jack (good!), or the simply accessible microSD card and nano SIM card tray (doesn’t require a SIM ejector device), I’ve to inform you the software program is unacceptable.

It’s not solely that the Snapdragon 835 chip is already over a yr previous at this level and may’t sustain or that the software program is predicated Android eight.1 Oreo and never 9 Pie, however that RED selected to provide the interface such an egregious pores and skin.

I get that the purple, silver, and black icons match RED’s branding, however along with the 3D flipping animations whenever you change homescreen pages, the entire UI simply seems like we obtained knocked again to the early days of Android when the Motorola DROID dominated supreme.

Now to be truthful, RED did modernize a number of issues with the newest software program replace. However nonetheless, the entire telephone feels alien in 2018. Even the sounds the telephone makes once you lock it with the facility button or faucet the shutter button are cringe. I swear a pack of vacationers freaked out once they heard the loud shutter button hearth off once I was taking a sundown shot at Brooklyn Bridge Park again in October. 

Dual rear cameras, but like they suck.

Twin rear cameras, however like they suck.


Oh, and the way about its cameras? They’re so crappy, I’m gonna shortly gloss over this part in lieu of my regular complete digital camera comparisons.

Photographs from the Hydrogen One’s twin 12-megapixel cameras look okay at first, however blow them up and examine them to photographs taken with an iPhone XR, XS, Pixel three, or perhaps a OnePlus 6T and also you’ll discover they lack dynamic vary, distinction, HDR stinks, and pictures are often grainier. In low-light, the cameras utterly crumble. 

Listed here are some preliminary photographs I shot…they’re not fairly.

Software program updates appeared to have elevated distinction a bit of and warmed up the colour temperature, however as you’ll be able to see within the comparability under, the cameras aren’t worthy of $1,000+ telephone.




Picture: raymond wong/mashable


It’s a bit nuts that RED, a digital camera firm recognized for making the perfect digital video cameras, did not make a telephone with one of the best digital camera for pictures and movies.

About the one factor the Hydrogen One will get proper is battery life. This factor’s Four,500 mAh battery is among the largest on any 2018 telephone and it simply lasts and lasts.

So many unfulfilled guarantees

And where exactly are the modules that are supposed to snap onto the pins on the back of the phone?

And the place precisely are the modules which are presupposed to snap onto the pins on the again of the telephone?


It was an extended shot to anticipate RED to make a groundbreaking telephone — nowadays anybody can go to a manufacturing unit in Asia and cobble collectively nice elements and slap their identify onto slab of glass and metallic — and the Hydrogen One proved me proper. 

In the long run, the RED Hydrogen One and its gimmicky “holographic show” left me with extra vacancy than I had hoped for. The telephone’s disappointing on each degree and at this level, holding out for the promised modules which are supposed to rework it right into a cinema-grade digital camera with options like a bigger picture sensor and mount help for nearly any digital camera lens looks like fraud. 

Apart from their phrase, no one outdoors of REDs seen this digital camera module, which makes it nearly as good as vaporware. And by the point it will get launched (if it ever will get launched), the Hydrogen One 2 (or will it’s Hydrogen Two?) will in all probability be out by then.

Which leaves the Hydrogen One as one of the hyped and ill-conceived telephones in years. It’s a miracle RED even shipped it.

With all respect to Jannard and RED, I’ll all the time root for the underdog, particularly in terms of making an attempt new issues in a stale product class. I really like seeing David versus Goliath situations. Jannard advised press at its launch occasion “for those who consider what we’re doing that others aren’t doing, you’re gonna like it.”

I attempted actually arduous to care concerning the Hydrogen One’s particular options — the “holographic show” and bizarre design — however I simply couldn’t. The underside line is: If you need an incredible moveable digital camera, simply go and get a fantastic little digital camera like a Sony RX100 VI or a barely bigger, however nonetheless small-ish mirrorless digital camera just like the Sony A6500 or Panasonic GH5. Each shoot 4K video rather well and take implausible photographs.

Simply don’t spend your cash on the Hydrogen One. It hurts to say it, however the Hydrogen One is a lot fail and as such, is the rightful winner of the worst tech product of 2018.

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