What to expect at IFA 2019
There’s just one big technology show before the end of the year, IFA, where we’ll see the last goodies revealed before everyone goes into buying mode. As usual, a team of Engadget’s finest will descend upon Berlin in the first week of September to uncover all of the best things being shown off. Before we do, however, you can whet your appetite with what we’re expecting, or at least hoping, to see when we land.
The show should include some interesting smartphones, class-leading TV and audio gear that looks as good as it sounds and plenty of updated PCs and laptops. And we’ll be keeping an eye on smart home, e-mobility gear and all the health and fitness tech that we spy on the floors.
When LG realized it couldn’t beat the leakers, it opted to join them, liberally spilling secrets about its newest smartphone. The teaser for its IFA press conference suggested a phone with a fold-out case that doubled as a second screen, which also had a notification display on its flipside. That’s either a nod to the second-screen accessory sold on the V50 ThinQ or maybe a flagship with an integral fold-out display.
We’ve also heard some rumors about another LG phone, dubbed the G8X, as reported by Engadget Japan. If accurate, the device will pack an in-display fingerprint reader, 3.5mm headphone jack and a Snapdragon 855 Plus SoC. LG denied the rumor to Android Authority, but did wink, Lucille Bluth-style, about its plans for the future.
It’s not clear if the G8X and the dual-screener are the same phone, or if LG’s coming to Berlin with two devices in tow. The company’s mobile division has hardly been going through a purple patch for the last few years, and its woes took LG into the red earlier this year.
If LG has a working dual-screen phone, it might be a cheaper and more reliable way of offering bigger screens without a flexible display. And since both Samsung and Huawei’s folding phones are languishing in development hell, LG might win back some hearts and minds.
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Nokia, the name under which HMD Global sells its smartphones, also has something for IFA. The rumor, recently reported by PhoneArena, is that we’re likely to see the Nokia 5.2, 6.2 and 7.2 all land at the show. Naturally, each one would be an incremental update to the x.1 predecessors, with better specs and imaging being the stand-out features.
Sony is another IFA mainstay, often using the show to release a huge number of products, across multiple categories, in a single press conference. The big phone this year could be the Xperia 2, which our colleagues at Engadget Japan claim will have a 6.1-inch body. Nestled inside, so the scuttlebutt goes, will be a Snapdragon 855, 6GB RAM and a 3,000mAh battery.
Traditionally, Sony has opted to launch a smaller, Compact-branded version of whatever smartphone it announces at IFA. That didn’t happen last year with the ZX3, and it may be that Sony wasn’t seeing enough uptake to justify building a smaller phone. It’ll be interesting to see if the company opts to offer something for folks who don’t want a 6-inch smartphone in their pockets.
We’re not expecting Huawei to launch much at IFA, since the next thing on its release calendar should be the Mate 20 successor, due in October. Huawei had penciled in the folding Mate X to launch in September, but, sadly, the company recently admitted it has, once again, been delayed. Similarly, it looks quite quiet over at Honor, unless it jumps in with the European versions of the 9X, 9X Pro and its wearable, the Honor Band 5.
TV and Audio
IFA is a big TV and audio show, but there haven’t been many concrete rumors about what’s being announced. Look out for LG, Samsung and Sony showing off their latest (or possibly new) 8K and 4K models, both for the one-percenters and the rest of us.
On the audio front, we’re expecting Sony to do its usual job of announcing a raft of brilliant audio gear. Its true wireless earbuds, the WF-1000XM3, are receiving plenty of plaudits, as are its ANC over-ear XB900N headphones. Updates for either are unlikely just yet, but the company could easily bust out similar hardware with higher, or lower, price tags. And, of course, it’s the 40th anniversary of the Walkman this year, so Sony would be foolish not to let that pass by without a commemorative product to wave at the fans.
We know that Sonos will be hosting events shortly before the show, ahead of a glossy product announcement in Berlin. Unfortunately, Zatz Not Funny and WinFuture have conspired to burst that bubble, unearthing details about the Sonos Move. According to the leaks, it’s a self-tuning portable speaker for music on the go. Packing AirPlay 2, Alexa, Google Assistant, WiFi and Bluetooth, it looks to be a cut above cheaper Bluetooth speakers.
The iconic Braun name has been licensed by Pure Audio, a British-based maker of Bluetooth audio gear. It’s planning to use IFA to roll out a new LE Line series of speakers with high-end HiFi and the company’s famous Ramsian design. If it looks like the original and is as smart as Pure’s line of DiscovR speakers, it may be top of everyone’s shopping lists.
Our friends over at Pocket-lint believe that we’ll see a new Fitbit device launching at the show. The Versa 2 will come with built-in Alexa and has been penciled in to launch this September anyway. It would make a decent amount of sense if the company took the new watch to IFA.
Garmin, meanwhile, is a company that never likes to turn up to IFA empty handed, and WinFuture believes we’ll see six new watches at the show. That’ll mostly involve updates to the Vivomove and Vivoactive lines of hybrid timepieces that won’t ugly up your wrist.
The most interesting potential product is the Garmin Venu, the company’s latest attempt at a fitness-forward smartwatch. According to the leaks, the watch has a 43-millimeter wide dial that will include coaching features, much like Fitbit’s comparable devices.
Similarly, Fossil will probably rock up at IFA with a semi truck full of new products now it has launched its fifth-generation watch platform. Because Fossil owns or licenses many brands for its watch divisions, you can expect to see the same hardware in plenty of bodies. Droid-Life expects the Wear OS gear to ship in cases from Michael Kors, Emporio Armani and Diesel, as well as under its own name, of course.
We’re not expecting much to come out of Intel because it’s done plenty of announcing this year already. What might drop are chip refreshes for some of its more portable machines, same as the last few years.
That would dovetail neatly with Lenovo’s teasers for a range of Chromebooks due to be announced at the show. The highest-end model in the C340-series, as reported by 9to5Google, will come with Core i3 or Pentium chip and could be ripe for a refresh.
Similarly, Lenovo always uses IFA to update its Yoga Book line, last year showing off the Yoga Book C930 with that e-ink keyboard. Perhaps, in line with what the company has been promising, we’ll see its next experimental Yoga machine with two full-touchscreens.
We’ve not heard much from Acer or ASUS about their plans, but both could show off refreshes of at least some of their models. ASUS always likes to throw in new chips to its ZenBooks at IFA, and that’s unlikely to change this year.
While those might be the major themes at IFA, there will be hundreds more exciting products that we don’t know anything about just yet. So for all of the cool stuff coming out of Berlin, follow along with our event hub right here!