BERLIN — It’s September, which means the gadgets are coming.
IFA Berlin 2014, which stands for Internationale Funkausstellung (and translates to the international radio exhibition), kicks off this week in Berlin and will usher in collections of new smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, giant TVs and home appliances. The trade show is one of the longest-running technology expos — with roots dating back to the 1920s — and it gets bigger each year.
While the Consumer Electronics Show (Las Vegas) and Mobile World Congress (Barcelona) are arguably the two biggest tech conferences of the year — front-loaded in the earlier months to set the stage for what will hit stores later — IFA is becoming an increasingly important launching ground for tech giants. It serves as an annual hub for Eastern and Western manufacturers to show off their goods to the world and is the only major show right before the holiday shopping season.
While we’ll see product launches from many of the big players (Samsung, Sony and so on), one company will be noticeably absent again: Apple. Instead, Apple has its own event planned for the following week in its hometown of Cupertino, Calif., where it’s expected to launch two new iPhones and possibly even an iWatch.
Although we don’t know for sure what to expect from IFA, there’s been enough leaks and rumors circulating to draw a few conclusions on what the biggest trends will be this year. And a few companies like LG have already primed the pump for their upcoming products with some early unveilings.
Here’s a look at what to expect:
“If you think there’s been a lot of talk about smartwatches already this year, the buzz is just getting started.”
The iWatch won’t make an appearance at the conference, but that doesn’t mean every other company will want to get wristband devices out and announced ahead of Apple.
LG already gave an early look at its circular smartwatch, theLG G Watch R, which runs Android Wear. The Samsung Gear S smartwatch was also pre-announced and comes with its own 3G connection and can be used even without a smartphone. It will also be the first time members of the press will get their hands on Samsung’s previously announced Galaxy Alpha smartphone — we’ll finally get more details on pricing and availability too.
As Apple and Google launch platforms for products that will work together in the home (i.e. a TV from one manufacturer can sync up with a refrigerator brand to tell you when you’re out of milk), manufacturers are readying appliances to be web-connected and smarter than ever. Although smart appliances have been around for a while, and the trend gathered momentum at the International CES 2014 in January, it’s poised to explode at IFA.
This includes everything from smart refrigerators and ovens to coffee makers, grills, toasters and even beauty products. Nest CEO Tony Faldell, the man behind the smart thermostat that first launched the smart home revolution, will be speaking at the event, and we’re expecting more news from the company, too. Energy-efficient products will also be a plenty, with new tech built into items like vacuum cleaners (even robotic ones) and dishwashers.
Bigger, smarter TVs
TVs will certainly share the spotlight at IFA and we’re expecting bigger, smarter and better from the category. TVs with ultra-high definition 4K will continue to trend (and possibly become more affordable), and big, stunning OLED (organic light-emitting diode) screens will also be prevalent — OLED screens are heralded to be the biggest display innovation since plasma and will be the future of TVS. And just like appliances, TVs will get even smarter at IFA, with the ability to learn your preferences and even be controlled via apps on your phone.
Smartphones will have a strong presence at the show this year, with the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 as the most hyped device expected to debut at the event. Samsung is holding an event in Berlin on Wednesday, Sept. 3, as well as simultaneous events in New York and Beijing. The company is known for bringing theatrics to its launch events, so we’ll wait and see what’s in store. The Galaxy Note 4 is expected to come with a stylus pen, and so will the LG G3 Stylus smartphone, which the company already pre-announced last week.
The variant of its flagship 5.5-inch G3 smartphone comes with a 13-megapixel camera, a 1.3GHz, quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage memory, a 3,000mAh battery, and it runs on Android 4.4.2 KitKat. We’re also expecting smartphones from Sony, Motorola and Nokia. Although Microsoft doesn’t typically make smartphone announcements at IFA, now that it owns Nokia’s phone division we’ll likely see new Lumia products: the Lumia 730, known as the selfie phone, and the Lumia 830.
Just like at CES, IFA has a whole floor of gadgets and we’ll inevitably see quirky accessories and devices along the way. 3D printing is another growing category that will get a lot of play this year, and we might even see a few notable announcements related to in-car tech too.