Last week, camera company Red unveiled its own upcoming Android smartphone: the VR/AR/3D/’4D’-capable Hydrogen One. But while the company did reveal some details about the model—such as the fact that it will be sold unlocked and that it is modular—a bunch of questions remain unanswered.
Red’s greater plans, though, may be revealed in a patent application it filed, in which the company describes a modular camera system that revolves around a smartphone.
The patent application, filed with the USPTO, describes a ‘Modular Digital Camera and Cellular Phone,’ explaining that the modular camera systems could include both still and motion products. While Motorola has already launched a modular phone system with the Moto Z, the patent indicates that Red’s version of a modular phone will be far more capable.
As you can see from the diagrams above, rectangular modules can be attached to the phone detailed in the patent, each stacked on the other to form an increasingly robust product. These modules may include high-quality cameras, larger batteries, mechanical controls, a camera grip, EVF, and more.
The illustrations even show the modular phone being transformed, via modules, into a DSLR-like still camera and a cinema-like motion camera.
The cost of assembling something like a DSLR or cinema camera using a phone like the Hydrogen One and these modules is unclear, but given the phone’s starting price of $1,195 there’s little doubt a fully assembled modular camera system would be very pricey.
For whatever upsides a consumer may get from this system, there would also be some notable downsides: losing access to your phone while it is part of the camera, having to assemble and disassemble the camera system frequently, and having to store/transport many small modules.