Squeezed between Samsung’s and Apple’s big phone announcements is this year’s IFA trade show in Berlin. The colorful event officially kicks off on Sept. 1, but news will start arriving two days earlier.
IFA is typically a mix of smartphone news with audio and video announcements, sprinkled generously with some interesting gadgets and perhaps a wearable or two. This year’s schedule is no different: LG and Sony will likely be launching major phones, and several other tech companies — including Samsung, Acer, Asus, Lenovo, and Toshiba — have events as well.
The most exciting announcement expected is LG’s V30 smartphone, which the company will launch on Aug. 31. From what we know so far, the phone is shaping up to be a formidable Samsung Galaxy Note 8/iPhone 8 competitor, with a beautiful, large, high-res screen, an innovative dual camera and some nifty tricks, including face recognition.
LG’s current flagship, the G6, didn’t exactly sell like crazy, but I’ve been using it (both the global version and the Asian variant) for several months, and besides the somewhat shoddy battery life and occasional bug, it works great. If LG can iron out the software issues and improve the battery life in the V30, it might be a great phone.
The jury is still out for Sony and Lenovo. Sony is likely to launch a new flagship phone in the company’s Xperia line as well as some midrangers, but honestly, the company hasn’t been keeping up with the smartphone trends in the last couple of years. Still, Sony’s phones still have great cameras, and even though the chances are slim, I’d like to see Sony launch something exceptional this year.
Lenovo, on the other hand, might focus on new laptops at its Sept. 1 event (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but it’s likely that we’ll see a new Moto phone (probably the oft-leaked Moto X4) as well in Berlin.
Huawei, which typically unveils a new flagship phone unveiling at IFA, will likely skip this year’s show and launch a new Huawei Mate phone in October. Its sub-brand, Honor, might have something cool to show, though.
While it’s tough to innovate in the crowded smartphone space these days, with huge screens covering most of the flagship phones’ faces, smartphone makers will have to try harder to differentiate their devices from the rest. I expect to see a lot of innovation this year; perhaps not all of these weird new features will stick, but at least the game will stay interesting.
Wearables. Yes, they’re still here.
In the last year or two, wearables stopped being the next big thing and became a niche product. Several big consumer electronics makers, including Huawei and Motorola, basically gave up on smartwatches, while companies like Samsung and Apple toned down their wearables announcements, mostly repurposing them as sports gadgets.
But a few leaks suggest Samsung’s big announcement at IFA this year might be all about wearables. It’s likely that the Korean giant will launch two smartwatches: The fitness-oriented Gear Fit 2 Pro and the flagship wearable in its lineup, the Gear S4, which might come with the company’s smart assistant Bixby. The launch is all the more interesting given that Apple is rumored to introduce a new Apple Watch alongside new iPhones at a September event.
Asus will also be there at IFA, possibly bringing a new ZenWatch (and a new phone as well). The company keeps making solid gadgets that never quite manage to capture the market’s attention; perhaps this year is different?
At this point, I’m not sure which set of features would make the smartwatch an indispensable — as opposed to nice-to-have-but-not-necessary — gadget. Perhaps built-in LTE, rumored for the Apple Watch, is the answer? I’m definitely interested to see what Samsung and Asus have in stock.
Huge TVs with tiny bezels
There’s one thing that almost always happens at IFA: Samsung shows off the largest TV in the world. Then LG shows a TV that’s just a tiny bit larger — or perhaps has a few more pixels. Or thinner bezels. Or something. The two companies have been at it for years, and although I haven’t seen any announcements yet, I’m fairly certain the rivalry won’t stop this year.
Other companies known to make beautiful, large TVs will be there in Berlin, including Toshiba, Panasonic and Philips. And yeah, we’re all used to great-looking TVs with insane resolutions, but I still look forward to see the best of what the industry has to offer.
Powerful gaming machines and obscure gadgets
Besides Lenovo, Acer will have press events at IFA, and you know what that means: Powerful gaming computers. Acer is the company that brought us the insane, curvy, 21-inch gaming laptop called Predator 21 X last year, as well as the somewhat tamer but still very powerful Predator Triton in April, and we’ll likely see more of that craziness at IFA.
Asus makes some pretty powerful hardware of its own, and some of it could make an appearance in Berlin as well.
Both companies, together with Lenovo, will likely launch some regular, home/business laptops as well.
IFA is also the event where something unpredictable — some hilariously weird gadget or service — typically eclipses all the major announcements (just look at our last year’s coverage). I don’t expect to see many Pokémon Go-related gizmos this year — that ship has sailed — but I just know something odd will show up and take the spotlight again.
Mashable‘s Raymond Wong and I will be covering IFA from Berlin this year; stay tuned for the first batches of news to start coming in around Wednesday.