RED founder confirms Hydrogen Two, blames manufacturer for Hydrogen One issues

The RED Hydrogen One was a bit of a disaster. It failed to live up to the hype, and it was obvious that this was the first phone from a manufacturer that primarily made cameras. That said, we have the very first details of a RED Hydrogen Two, courtesy of company founder Jim Jannard.

In a post on the Hydrogen-owner site (via the Verge), Jannard laid into the unnamed Chinese manufacturers of the Hydrogen One as having “significantly under-performed” causing issues and problems that were “impossible” to fix.

Jannard also confirmed that work has begun on the much-anticipated camera module that will eventually work with both phones. In his post, he points out that the RED Hydrogen Two is being designed “virtually from scratch,” with a completely “new execution team along with world-class design partners.”

RED has begun work on the cinema camera module, as the previous ODM was “was not going to competently complete the module that they committed and guaranteed to do,” says Jannard. Apparently, the capability of the new Komodo camera module will “vastly exceed the originally planned module,” and will allow Hydrogen One and Two to “integrate with this new camera.”

What’s more, existing customers of the Hydrogen One are expected to get “significant preferential treatment for the Hydrogen Two and/or new Cinema Camera model, both in delivery allocations and pricing.”

HYDROGEN has been the single most exciting project I have ever worked on. It has also proven to be the single most challenging program I have ever been a part of.

While Oakley sunglasses and RED cameras were (and are) built in our own factories in Orange County, building a smartphone with challenging and new disruptive technologies at the RED factory just wasn’t possible given the competitive nature of the the market. We chose an ODM in China to prepare the HYDROGEN One for manufacture at Foxconn. While Foxconn has been fantastic, our ODM, which was responsible for the mechanical packaging of our design including new technologies along with all software integration with the Qualcomm processor, has significantly underperformed. Getting our ODM in China to finish the committed features and fix known issues on the HYDROGEN One has proven to be beyond challenging. Impossible actually. This has been irritating me to death and flooding our reactor.

For this reason, after months of vetting a new design to manufacture house, we have begun the work on the HYDROGEN Two, virtually from scratch, at a new ODM that is clearly more capable of building and supporting the product we (and our customers) demand. We also have put into place a new internal execution team along with world class design-partners that we have carefully selected. The HYDROGEN Two is being methodically designed and crafted to surprise and exceed expectations… again, just as you would expect from us.

Additionally, we eventually realized that the original camera module would have to change due to the fact our ODM was not going to competently complete the module that they committed and guaranteed to do. Our best option was to modify the program and bring it back into the RED house. We have completed the new and extraordinary sensor and redesigned the package. Jarred at RED will be posting about Komodo fairly soon. Its capability will vastly exceed the originally planned module. The HYDROGEN One and Two will integrate with this new camera. While it does not replace its big RED brothers, it will certainly be a complimentary camera for cinema grade images at the highest level at lower pricing.

We fully understand the frustrations of our customers since I am one as well. While issues have been the result of our original ODM’s short comings, we also understand that customers solely look to us for their satisfaction. We remain committed to taking care of our customers the best way we can given all the circumstances. To that end, every HYDROGEN One owner will get significant preferential treatment for the HYDROGEN Two and/or new Cinema Camera model, both in delivery allocations and pricing.

HYDROGEN is still the most exciting project I have ever worked on. We continue to be committed to further advancing the “image capture in your pocket” device as well as providing the highest quality image capture devices to more people than ever before.

We are not done…


While this is fantastic news for Hydrogen One owners, the prospect of a new brand new Hydrogen Two is interesting and concerning. We say that simply because of just how poorly the initial Hydrogen phone was perceived. Of course, we have no other information on availability and pricing. We’d still say take all of this information with a pinch of salt, no matter how exciting.

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Avatar for Damien Wilde Damien Wilde

Damien is a UK-based video producer for 9to5Google. Find him on Twitter @iamdamienwilde. Email

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