RED launches pre-orders of bizarre $1,600 titanium ‘holographic’ smartphone

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Camera companies have had to adapt their business models quickly over the past decade to account for the rise of smartphone cameras. Part of that has involved some interesting developments on the high end. RED has built incredibly high-powered cameras that have become the darling of many in the film industry; now they’re setting their sights on the smartphone market with what seems to be a deeply odd device announcement.

Today, the company launched pre-orders of Hydrogen, an expensive, modular smartphone with what it calls a “holographic” 3D display for VR and AR.

The device will sport what sounds like a glasses-free 3D display, which as we all know from the Nintendo 3DS is not gimmicky in the slightest. The 3DS relied on face-tracking to give viewers a consistent 3D experience, but no details from RED as to how exactly they’re pulling this off.

In fact, there are very few details about anything that should convince potential pre-orderers to plunk down many Benjamins on this device, with the company already maintaining that it “will NOT be able to fill all orders on time due to display production limitations,” following fulfillment of pre-orders.

Quite a few phone manufacturers have tried the modular smartphone model; RED seems to hope that as a camera company, users of its device will be a bit more intrigued by updating camera attachments for the device, which also can be used as a control center/monitor for its professional camera system.

The phone will come in two editions, a $1,595 titanium version and — for the “budget-conscious” — a $1,195 aluminum build. Don’t worry though, you get a lot of extra goodies for those prices, including a USB-C cable and charger (!), an expandable Micro SD card slot (!!) and a “special small token” (!!!).

The company says the device will ship in Q1 of 2018.