RED Hydrogen One Review of Reviews: A Spectacular Failure
If you’re a frequent reader of tech sites you probably saw a plethora of reviews today. We finally saw the OnePlus 6T get officially announced (along with Part 1 of our review), but the day started with a much more niche device: the RED Hydrogen One.
RED is most well-known for making very high-end camera equipment. The Hydrogen One was announced over a year ago and was supposed to launch this past summer. It was delayed several times, but it will soon be available for the lofty price of $1,300. That’s why the review embargo lifted this morning with almost unanimous negativity. Let’s take a look at some of the reviews.
RED’s debut smartphone is such a mess that it made me question what fundamental parts of a phone we truly need. Does a great phone truly need a great display, great design, and top-of-the-line specs? What if it ditched all of those things in pursuit of something far more unique and special?
But no matter what terms you review this phone on, it misses the mark. And with a $1,300 price tag, it’s impossible to justify how badly it misses.
It’s hard to recommend the Hydrogen One to … well, anybody. Performance isn’t anywhere near where it should be, and while a lot of my problems with the software could be alleviated with a final build, there’s still a lot left to the unknown. When will the phone receive Android Pie, if at all? What will the update situation look like further on down the road? How much better will the modules actually make the phone? Will they work with any consequent RED phones, or will you just have to buy new ones all over again?
These are questions that would give me pause if the phone were half its price. For the same $1295 RED is asking for the Hydrogen One, you could buy any other flagship phone and walk away with an immediately better experience and, more importantly, confidence in long-term support.
Should you buy it?
No. Individually, there are quite a few compelling aspects of this hardware and software, and there’s really not another phone on the market that hits the same features. But it still feels very much like a first-gen product, even despite the advancements over earlier 3D phones.
Considering the software performance and optimization issues I experienced, as well as a camera experience that is currently beyond lacking at a price of $1,200+, this phone is one of those devices that was very difficult to use for a full week.
In my mind, this is an unfinished product that still needs a lot of work in the software department. A lot of the bad things I experienced can be fixed, so while it’s fine to still have hope for this phone to be good, it’s not something I would come close to recommending at this time.
There are a few other reviews out there with similar sentiments. There was a time when it wasn’t uncommon to see universal negative reviews for phones. Back when Android was still very new and manufacturers were taking chances. But for the most part, all Android phones in the upper price range are good now. It’s crazy to see a $1,300 phone get raked over the coals like the RED Hydrogen One. What are your thoughts on this phone?