We usually know more than the bare minimum about a phone’s hardware when carriers begin announcing they will carry it. That’s not the case with the heavily hyped Red Hydrogen One. Both AT&T and Verizon have said today they will sell the mysterious phone with its holographic display. It’s going to be one of the most expensive phones ever launched, though.
Red is known for making high-end digital video cameras. So, getting into phones is a strange move. The Android-powered device will be a little behind in the spec race with its Snapdragon 835, but it’s the display that has everyone interested. Red calls it a “four-view” display, or “4V” for short. Red says it’s better than 3D and doesn’t require glasses.
The holographic display comes from a partnership with HP spinoff Leia Inc — yes, like the princess. That should give you an idea what the screen image looks like. In 4V mode, the screen dims and images appear to pop out from the phone. Part of the reason the Hydrogen One is so mysterious is that you can’t experience the display over the internet. Your monitor or phone screen doesn’t have this holographic tech, so you’d just see flat images. Red says everyone who has seen the 4V display in person “gasps, swears, or just grins.”
The Red Hydrogen One will retail for $1,200 if you want the standard aluminum model. The titanium phone will cost a whopping $1,600. Buying a phone from carriers makes the price more tolerable, which is one of the forces pushing phone prices higher. The difference between a $600 and $900 phone is only a few bucks on each bill if you’re paying it off monthly. Still, a $1,200 phone works out to $50 every month.
Carriers sometimes take risks with quirky smartphones, going all the way back to devices like the dual-screen Kyocera Echo, HTC First Facebook phone, or 3D-enabled HTC Evo 3D. More recently, AT&T picked up the dual-screen Axon M and Verizon sold the Asus Zenfone AR phone with Tango AR tech. More often than not, these risks don’t pay off. However, the original iPhone was seen as a risk for AT&T back in the day.
AT&T says the Red Hydrogen One will launch this summer, but Verizon won’t sell it until later this year. The first public demos of the Hydrogen One will take place in the coming weeks. At that point, we’ll find out how people really react and if they’re interested in spending more than $1,000 for the phone. If the Hydrogen One proves to be more hype than substance, Verizon might end up dropping plans to sell it.
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