IFA 2017: WHAT TO EXPECT THIS SEPTEMBER
IFA is just around the corner. Europe's largest consumer electronics trade show is back for another year to showcase the latest and greatest tech from the biggest manufacturers. The event will be happening in just a few months, so read on to find out what will be happening at this year's show.
What is IFA?
IFA presents the newest devices and latest innovations from around the world; taking place in Berlin, Germany. The IFA dates have been set for 2017 between September 1-6 at the Messe ExpoCenter (though it opens for the press a little earlier). This massive venue saw around 240,000 visitors and 1,800 exhibitors during six days of presentations last year, and we expect the same this year.
IFA is one of the oldest industrial exhibitions in the world, starting in 1924 and going through to 1939. Following the end of WWII, it picked up where it had left off in 1950. IFA stands for ‘Internationale Funkausstellung’ which is German for ‘International Radio Exhibition’. In the past, it was a biennial event but starting in 2005 became an annual event.
In 2003, IFA was the largest consumer electronics fair in the world with 273,800 visitors to more than 1,000 exhibitors. There was over $2.8 billion in placed orders for products. It also has an average of 6,800 accredited journalists from 78 countries – and AndroidPIT will be there in force.
When is IFA 2017 and how do I get in?
IFA 2017 is happening from September 1-6 at the Berlin ExpoCenter. Once tickets go on sale, you will be able to pick up one-day IFA tickets to the exhibition for around the same price as last year: 17 EUR (about $20). Other options including packages with Berlin public transportation should also be available. Also worthy of note, according to ECI News, some IFA visitors will get a special souvenir this year: a 3D-printed mini model of themselves.
Trends to expect at IFA 2017
This year’s pre-IFA Global Press Conference, which happened from April 20-23 in Lisbon, gave us a clear idea of what trends and announcements we could expect from the trade show. Dr. Christian Göke, CEO of Messe Berlin where IFA is taking place, said that “We believe it’s time to define consumer electronics in a new way,” and that the boundaries between the digital and physical worlds are blurring. The “consumerisation” of devices reflects this and, according to Göke, it’s making room for “healthcare and wellness, automotive, mobile devices, Internet of Things and the smart home, to new fields like drones, virtual, augmented and mixed reality.”
As such, we can expect to see innovative tech products at IFA in a wide range of categories, which are now becoming more interconnected thanks to voice controlled AI assistants. These assistants and their ecosystems are competing against each other to connect all aspects of your life, from your smartphone to your smart home, and even your connected car. At this year’s IFA, Microsoft may have something exciting to present on that topic: the fruits of its just-announced collaborations with Intel, HP and Harmon Kardon. Here are a few of the categories that will dominate this year’s IFA:
- Wireless connected speakers, headphones and hi-fi devices capable of playing lossless audio
- AR and VR hardware, including headsets and 360 cameras for professionals and ones that attach to smartphones
- Competition between voice controlled AI assistants and their connected ecosystems
- New smart wearables that can monitor vital functions and movement with three sensors attached across the body
IFA 2017 predictions
Samsung at IFA
Galaxy Note 8
It’s rumored that the Galaxy Note 8 will be revealed at IFA 2017 and the Executive Director of IFA, Jens Heithecker, is a big fan of the idea. He said that “Samsung will have the biggest presentation” at the conference, and that from his perspective, “IFA would be the better place” to unveil the new Note, since journalists will already be gathered there, as opposed doing it in another city in August. A recent news from Sammobile corroborates this, despite other news suggesting otherwise.
Samsung’s first quarter results say that to stay competitive in the second half of this year, the company will launch a new flagship smartphone, in addition to launching new products in the mid to low-end segment. That’s more evidence pointing to a reveal of the Note 8 around the time of IFA 2017, and also a hint that we may get to see some fresh affordable devices there as well.
There have been some unsubstantiated rumors that Samsung could reveal the foldable Galaxy X smartphone, but this is very, very unlikely. The Principal Engineer of Samsung Display, Kim Tae-woong said in April that the bezel-less display is a success right now and there is no need to rush a technology that won’t be ready for commercial launch until 2019. That basically confirms we won’t be seeing a Galaxy X prototype at IFA this September.
Bixby may also be front and center at IFA 2017. The AI assistant which comes with the new Samsung Galaxy S8 doesn’t have it’s central feature sorted out yet, and IFA might be a good chance to set it right. Voice control, which is currently only available in South Korea, may make its worldwide launch at the conference. We’re excited to see what it can do, and which languages it will be capable of supporting, as only a handful have been revealed so far.
Samsung Gear S4 (or Gear S3 Pro)
Sammobile has recently suggested that the Gear S4 may not be launched at IFA this year because Tizen 3.0 has only just started being developed. However, as Samsung always has some significant presence at IFA, we’d expect either the Note 8 or the Gear S4 to be launched at the event. Let’s see which they choose.
At last year’s IFA, Samsung presented its flagship wearable, the Gear S3 smartwatch, which successfully combined the fitness features of the Gear Fit2 with the practicality of the Gear S2’s functionality, and made it iOS compatible. Android Wear 2.0 has since been released, and even so, Samsung’s Tizen OS is now narrowly beating Android Wear for the first time since 2015, at 19 and 18 percent market share respectively, according to a Q1 2017 report from Strategy Analytics. The same report shows Apple is still currently dominating the smartwatch OS market worldwide with 57 percent market share, but Samsung could announce the Samsung Gear S4 at IFA 2017 and get a bigger piece of the pie before the Apple Watch 3 comes around in late 2017 or early 2018.
An AR headset or the Gear VR 3, but not a new Gear 360
Samsung Electronics VP Dr. Sung-Hoon Hong said at the Virtual Reality Summit late last year that the South Korean company is planning to release an AR (augmented reality) headset sometime after the second iteration of the Gear VR, which came out alongside the Note 7 in August of 2016. We could get a preview of this mixed reality headset, said to be similar to Microsoft HoloLens and Magic Leap, at IFA 2017 – or maybe even a Samsung Gear VR 3. Samsung’s revamped Gear 360 was just launched alongside the Galaxy S8 in April 2017, so we almost definitely won’t be seeing a new one at IFA 2017.
Huawei at IFA
At last year’s IFA, Huawei presented two new smartphones, the Nova and Nova Plus, in addition to the 8.1-inch MediaPad M3tablet with Harmon / Kardon stereo speakers. Given that it launched two mid-range smartphones at IFA last year, and it already came out with the P10 flagship in February, it’s not likely that we’ll see a high-end smartphone from Huawei at IFA 2017 – but we may see some lower-end phones or a tablet this time around.
Sony at IFA
At IFA 2016, Sony revealed the Xperia X Compact and Xperia XZ. At MWC 2017, it revealed the Xperia XZs and XZ Premium, along with the super mid-range Xperia XA1 and XA1 Ultra. So, what does the company have up its sleeve for IFA 2017? Well, it didn’t launch a new flagship tablet in 2016 or at MWC, so we could see a new tablet as a follow up to the Z4 – although, since the Z series was discontinued in favor of the X series in February, it won’t be called the Xperia Z6. There’s also a rumor that Sony will reveal the Xperia XZ1, XZ1 Compact and X1 at IFA 2017.
Will Sony break from its smartphone design philosophy and go bezel-less? Japan Display Inc. (JDI) will be producing a “Full Active” LCD display with slim bezels on all four sides, and there’s a rumor on Weibo that Sony will be using it in an upcoming smartphone to be revealed at IFA. It’s unlikely that the rumor is true, however, since the rumored 6-inch display would have an 18:9 aspect ratio instead of the 16:9 ratio. Sony is more likely to rely on 16:9 as a video and gaming format to prevent black bars, or letterboxing, and keep to its iconic design. Since delivering a great entertainment experience is a key priority for Sony, it doesn’t seem feasible to trade that for the bezel-less design fad.
HTC at IFA
HTC has six to seven smartphones planned for 2017, of which three are accounted for already: the HTC U Play, HTC U Ultra and the HTC U11. Given that the flagship and mid-range have been covered already this year, we may see some more affordable offerings from HTC at IFA 2017. At last year’s IFA the company introduced the mid-range HTC One A9s, which looked very similar to the iPhone 6S. Perhaps we’ll get another stylish addition to the lineup, or even a Vive-branded smartphone. There are even rumors of a mini version of the HTC U11 flagship called the HTC U11 Life (codenamed Ocean Life).
Lenovo at IFA
At last year’s IFA, Lenovo presented the modular Moto Z Play and the unique Yoga Book tablet. And during MWC 2017, the Taiwanese company presented the Moto G5 and G5 Plus and set a fresh course for this mid-range series to become state-of-the-art. At IFA 2017, we may see the Moto E4 and E4 Plus, a couple of rumored budget phones with 5,000 mAh batteries. Plus, the Moto X2 Force, which was recently introduced in the US along with a 360 degree camera mod, may be a highlight. Apart from smartphones, we may see notebooks, PCs, servers and more from the Lenovo Yoga and ThinkPad brands. We also expect some mixed reality tech and voice assistant speakers.
Asus at IFA
At IFA 2016, Asus presented its new Zenfone 3 series, which included the Zenfone 3, Zenfone 3 Laser, and the premium Zenfone 3 Deluxe with 6 GB RAM. At IFA 2017, we could see the new Asus ZenWatch 4, as the circular, overpriced ZenWatch 3 was presented at last year’s event. Asus is able to accomplish a lot in a handset, regardless of price point, so we’re excited to find out what it will present at IFA 2017.
LG at IFA
LG usually releases the new versions of its V series in the second half of each year, and there’s no better way to catch the eye of the masses around the world than to debut a smartphone at IFA. According to the latest rumor from ETNews, that’s exactly what LG plans to do. The big reveal is set to happen a day before the event begins on September 1. The V30 will be launched first in South Korea for around $699. For all the specs and rumors on this device, check out our article on the LG V30.
So what do you want to see this year at IFA? Let us know in the comments below.