IFA 2017: What to Expect

IFA is Europe’s version of CES, though there are a few differences. Appliances like fridges and washing machines tend to figure more prominently in Berlin than Las Vegas, and IFA is open to the public, letting locals get hands-on time with gadgets that will be making their way to store shelves in the next year.

The show runs from Sept. 1-6, but the press gets there a few days early for press conferences and hands-on time before the convention center becomes a crush of tech enthusiasts. This year, PCMag’s Ajay Kumar, Victoria Song, and Matthew Buzzi are on the ground in Berlin. They’ll bring you all the news from the show, but until then, here’s what they expect to see in the halls of the Messe Berlin.

Mobile
IFA used to be where Samsung would show off its latest Galaxy Note, but in recent years, it has switched to splashy New York City events ahead of the Berlin trade show, including the Galaxy Note 8, which we saw last week. So what does that leave for Berlin?

Plenty, as it turns out. LG is raring to pick up the slack with the LG V30, the successor to the V20 phablet. The phone has been heavily leaked; the company itself has showcased many of the features. With a thin bezel, metal body, and tall-and-narrow body that’s easy to use with one hand, the V30 is the phone most likely to be a competitor for the Galaxy Note 8. You’re looking at a phone with dual rear cameras, and both a wide angle and likely telephoto lens. The screen is said to be a 18:9 OLED display with special features like a Floating Bar that gives you quick access to various functions. LG will live stream its V30 event on Aug. 31 at 9 a.m. CET/4 a.m. ET on YouTube and Facebook.

Since Lenovo’s acquisition of Motorola, we’ve seen a flood of new Moto phones, ranging from the budget E4, the midrange G5 Plus, and the top-tier Moto Z2 Force. What does that leave to announce? The heavily rumored Moto X4. Gone, but not forgotten, the device would be the effective successor of the Moto X Pure Edition that came out two years ago. From the leaks we’ve seen so far, it would fall somewhere between the G5 Plus and Z2 Force in terms of hardware and features, boasting premium features like waterproofing, but no compatibility with Moto Mods.

Sony usually has something mobile-related to showcase in Berlin, but this year we don’t have a idea of what it is. A successor to the Sony Xperia XZ and XZ Premium (below) is possible along with additions to the company’s midrange lineup. On the more innovative end, we’d like to see refinements to the Sony Xperia Ear, a device we tested last year and found to be a strong concept, but lacking in execution.

The Huawei Honor 9 never came to the US market, but the device proved reasonably popular in Europe. It may be too early for a new model, so we likely won’t see a high-end device, but Huawei has plenty of phones and tablets in the midrange segment.

Fairphone isn’t a name you’ll hear in the US, but the company had a nifty fully modular phone at MWC. While the premise of the company is that it doesn’t want to come out with a yearly release cycle for phones because it’s bad for the environment and you should just upgrade components, it’s possible we could see a more polished version of the Fairphone 2.

At this point, BlackBerry is probably not company you think of often. But maybe you should. The KeyOne was a reasonably successful midrange phone equipped with a keypad. New hardware is possible, and a keypad could very well be coming to a phone near you.

Laptops
I wouldn’t expect a revolutionary year for notebooks, but rather, further incremental improvements in the space. This will include adoption of Intel’s next generation of processors, which will once again improve performance over the previous CPUs. Crucially for price-conscious shoppers, the floor for standard components will continue to rise, with better-than-ever specs becoming the norm in more and more models. This includes solid-state drives, sharper displays, and formerly premium features like USB-C ports coming to entry-level or midrange machines.

Virtual and Mixed Reality
VR and AR remain the words on the lips of tech companies the world over, even if the VR gaming revolution hasn’t quite taken off yet. Its possibilities beyond gaming, though, such as browsing, designing, and virtual touring, remain tantalizing for many manufacturers, and Microsoft and partners such as Acer (below), Dell, Lenovo, Asus, and HP are going all out in support of the technology on Windows. Look to see some of this consumer hardware for the Windows platform from at least one manufacturer, headsets that can bring the experience to home PCs at relatively reasonable prices.

Smart Home
While homes and the technology in them keep getting smarter, don’t expect too many waves at IFA 2017. Philips, LG, and Samsung will all be there, and it’s a perfect chance to show off some crazy futuristic high-concept ideas and the latest upgrades in their respective ecosystems. You can also expect to see some updated robot vacuums, Alexa knock-offs, Alexa add-ons, and of course, an army of smart light bulbs.

Wearables
Long live smartwatches and fitness trackers. The big news is that Samsung is expected to reveal not one, but two wearables this year: the Gear S4 and the Gear Fit 2 Pro. Fitbit’s also diving into new territory with its newly announced Ionic smartwatch and Flyer headphones. It’s also been a while since Garmin’s updated its core lines, so chances are good that we’ll see some new hardware as well. Don’t count out Fossil’s army of smartwatches either—especially since we’re still expecting the Misfit Vapor this fall.

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