IFA 2018: what to expect from Berlin’s massive tech show | Innovation
It’s that time of year again: IFA 2018 is almost here, and while we’ve seen some big IFAs in the past, the 2018 edition could be the biggest yet.
The week-long event gets underway on August 29 in the German capital, with dozens of major hardware manufacturers coming together to showcase their latest and greatest creations.
Smartphones, smart speakers, televisions, headphones, laptops and more – IFA is always a bonanza of consumer tech and home appliances, having expanded to the extent that it’s now a major competitor to CES in Las Vegas, its American counterpart.
We’ve got press conferences scheduled from the likes of Bang & Olufsen, LG, Toshiba, Sony, Philips, Samsung, Casio, Panasonic and Acer, so there should be plenty of new technology to take a peek at.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? Europe’s biggest annual technology show in Berlin, Germany
- When is it? Show dates are August 31 to September 5, press days August 29-30
Samsung at IFA 2018
Samsung has already unveiled the Galaxy Note 9, the Galaxy Watch, and the Galaxy Tab S4 in recent months of course — so what will it have left for IFA 2018? It could be an unusually quiet IFA for Samsung this time around.
The focus could be on televisions featuring Samsung’s MicroLED technology, and maybe some more larger appliances. And maybe there’ll be more Bixby 2.0 news, including a better look at that upcoming smart speaker.
Sony at IFA 2018
Sony always puts on a good show at IFA, holding back a few flagship announcements for the autumn showcase along with some concept devices to set the mind wandering into the far-flung, crazy tech future.
We’re expecting to see the Sony Xperia XZ3 make its bow, maybe alongside a XZ3 Compact, considering the amount of space Sony dedicated to smartphones last year. Sony’s phone range can be a little confusing but we think there’ll be at least one new handset.
An updated version of Sony’s smart home speaker, the LF-S50G, could also be on show. Everyone is getting into the smart speaker game nowadays, and Sony won’t want to be left behind.
Besides that, we think Sony might have some new televisions and some new audio equipment for us to try out as well: Sony can usually be relied upon to put on a good show at IFA.
LG at IFA 2018
Last year, LG gave us the V30 smartphone, and with its LG V40 successor tipped for a September release, it’s all but certain to show up at IFA 2018. With LG’s flagship G7 ThinQ phone failing to hit the same heights as its competition, the door has been left open for the V40 to steal the show.
Word on the grapevine is that LG is also getting ready to release two new smartwatches running Google’s Wear OS software, including a new LG Timepiece with an OLED screen and a set of real hands. But their specs may otherwise be more mid-range – i.e. without cellular tech or GPS – than some are hoping for.
And in a notable first for the company, LG executives will be delivering a joint keynote at the show to outline LG’s strategy for their ThinQ AI platform in future devices. There’s sure to be plenty of buzz around the vision they have for the company’s future.
LG is another company that seems to revel in the IFA setting, so it’s likely to have a wealth of gadgetry on show, most of it with AI inside.
Huawei at IFA 2018
Even without a big Samsung launch, IFA could feature a fair few smartphones, with Chinese firm Huawei also rumored to show up in the German capital with a successor to the Mate 10 Pro.
The now-trademarked Mate 20 Pro phablet is expected to launch in November, possibly sporting the much-anticipated Kirin 980 processor, with many seeing IFA as the perfect opportunity to unveil the new technology.
This is a more business-focused line of devices than the firm’s trendier P20 range, with productivity and battery life being the core features. Nevertheless, the Mate 20 will be well worth looking out for no matter what your smartphone tastes – and we like the look of the notch.
It’s also been a while since Huawei has treated us to new wearables, though we’ve been told by company CEO Richard Yu that a third iteration of its smartwatch is on the way. We’d love to see a refined Huawei smartwatch with great features, solid battery life and an appealing design show up at IFA 2018.
Fitbit at IFA 2018
Fitbit specializes in accessible and easy-to-use fitness trackers, and the Charge 2 it revealed at IFA 2016 turned out to be a well-specced wearable that didn’t break the bank. However, we’ve already seen the Fitbit Charge 3 appear, so that won’t be making its bow at IFA 2018 (though it’ll probably be on show.
Fitbit are a bit unpredictable with launches – the company’s first smartwatch, the Fitbit Ionic, was announced just before the 2017 show – but with the Charge 3 launch only a few days ago, we might not see anything new from Fitbit.
Speaking of wearables, we might see new launches from some of the smaller names (smaller in the tech space anyway) – Fossil, for example, might have a new smartwatch or two to show off.
Motorola at IFA 2018
Motorola’s big reveal at IFA 2017 was the firmly mid-range Moto X4 smartphone, which struggled slightly in comparison to its more high-reaching predecessors.
We may see a Moto X5 iteration this year, but we’ve heard no solid rumors so far – while some sources are even suggesting the model has been cancelled to focus on the company’s E, G, and Z ranges instead.
Given Motorola’s rather haphazard release schedule lately, it’s difficult to make predictions, but a global version of the Motorola P30 might show up.
Lenovo at IFA 2018
Lenovo largely used last year’s event to showcase its first virtual reality headset, the Lenovo Explorer. Though it impressed with its attractive and comfortable design – in an increasingly crowded market – all eyes have been on Lenovo’s more price-accessible Mirage Solo headset in recent months, and we expect to hear more about the company’s plans for VR devices at the upcoming show.
Lenovo may also be announcing a new lightweight, 15.6-inch ThinkPad laptop, titled the X1 Extreme or P1, to compete with the likes of Dell’s XPS 15. Razer is another company tipped to have a new high-spec laptop on show at IFA 2018 – note that Dell just upgraded its Alienware line.
Philips at IFA 2018
Philips revealed its first ever Quantum Dot television, the Philips 8602, at IFA 2017. While it’s unlikely any vastly new technology will make its way to stage, we should be seeing some other similarly high-spec sets this time around at IFA 2018.
We do know a dedicated space is being set aside for Philips’ new line-up of curved, ultra-slim gaming monitors, with some measuring as little as 6.1mm.
There was talk that new Philips Hue lights would launch at IFA 2018, and while we would never say never, it seems most of the 2018 Hue products have already been unveiled ahead of the show.
Acer at IFA 2018
Acer announced an impressive variety of PC models at last year’s show, and usually takes to IFA with gusto.
For the die-hard gamers, there was the Acer Predator Orion 9000, with a hefty 18-core CPU and all-in-one cooling system. For the commuters, there were the Swift 5 and Spin 5 detachable multi-touch tablets. For the – well, for anyone really – there was the world’s first fanless 2-in-1 convertible laptop, the Switch 7.
Given the usual speed of the computing world, we assume we’ll see some improved iterations of the above making use of ongoing advances in computer processors.
Acer also likes a Chromebook or two, so it’s possible that we’ll see something new powered by Google’s lightweight operating system.
Asus at IFA 2018
We can usually count on Asus to deliver something that catches our eye. Last year, it was the world’s thinnest 2-in-1 laptop, the 13.9mm-thick Zenbook Flip 14 – as well as its own impressive addition to the Windows range of mixed-reality headsets, specifically designed to reduce ‘face fatigue’, sweating, and the general hassle we still see in premium headsets.
With more and more big names getting into the VR arena, we’re hoping to see a new iteration of the headset that continues to fight Asus’s corner.
It’s also been two years since the last Asus Chromebook, and recent rumors of a new model with an upgraded processor, touchscreen, and backlit keyboard make us think an official announcement at IFA could materalize.
Panasonic at IFA 2018
“Panasonic makes good speakers” was our takeaway from IFA 2017, when the company unveiled the catchily-named SC-GA10 smart speaker, a truly capable Bluetooth device that packed great audio with a built-in Google Assistant (for voice commands) and Chromecast (for all-important media streaming).
With consumers still so often having to choose between good AI voice assistants and good sound, we’d love to see Panasonic commit to expanding its SC range. It does have a press conference in the pipeline, which could mean anything from TVs to cameras. Panasonic rumors for IFA 2018 have been pretty thin on the ground.