This strange new phone has a holographic display and big price tag

If you think phones are too expensive, we suggest swallowing whatever you're drinking now so you don't spit it all over your monitor when you see the cost of RED's latest creation. 

RED, a camera company, has announced its first smartphone, called the Hydrogen One. The Android device has a holographic display that uses nanotechnology to switch from flat 2D images to holographic, 3D, augmented reality and mixed reality content on its 5.7-inch display . 

"Experience 'look around depth' in the palm of your hand, no glasses or headsets in sight," RED's press release reads.

This sounds intriguing, but the unlocked handset's starting price is $1,195 (about £925, AU$1,575). That's for the aluminum model. Bump it up to titanium, and you'll fork over $1,595 (about £1,230, AU$2,105). 

Sticker shock, yes, but the price may go up even higher; RED's press release states "we will NOT guarantee these prices at the time of release." Taxes and shipping also aren't included.

Unlocked phones can creep up close to the $1,000 mark, but paying nearly $1,600 for an untested smartphone is asking a lot. RED is clearly hoping the Hydrogen One's features - plus a healthy dose of hype - are enough to entice shoppers. 

Will Hydrogen One make a splash?

The Hydrogen One also taps a "proprietary H30 algorithm" to convert "stereo sound into expansive multi-dimensional audio." This is to complement the holographic content you're seeing as well as provide a premium listening experience, RED says.

In addition to the holographic display, the Hydrogen One is a modular phone that's the basis for a whole "multi-dimensional media system." 

Modularity has returned to the spotlight thanks to the Essential Phone and Moto Z line, and Hydrogen One wants to be part of this new wave of upgrading devices by sticking various attachments to them. These accessories, which sound to be of the camera variety, won't be available at launch, however.  

You can also use the Hydrogen One in tandem with RED's professional cameras, as the phone becomes a user interface and monitor for the snappers.

And one really important note: the phone's design (shown above), release date and specs all may change before its expected Q1 2018 release. So there's that.

The Hydrogen One is likely to appeal to a small subset of smartphone users right now, and probably those who already own RED cameras and want a phone that integrates with the whole ecosystem. 

The device may never gain widespread popularity, especially at its price point and the fact RED basically guarantees "we will NOT be ale to fill all orders on time due to display production limitations." 

However, if Hydrogen One is truly holographic, modular in a reasonable sense (i.e. not prohibitively expensive) and offers an all-around premium user experience, it could be one of the most interesting releases of 2018.

If you do pre-order a Hydrogen One, you'll also receive a USB-C cable and charger, an expandable microSD card slot and a "special small token" as a gift for being an early adopter. You'll have to pay for any additional accessories when those become available.

Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.