What to expect at IFA 2017

Smartwatches, smartphones, smart speakers, just everything with smart in the name.

IFA is one of the world's most prestigious technology shows, and a sober European counterpart to the glitz of Las Vegas' CES. It's where plenty of big names show off the wares they hope you'll buy in the run-up to the holidays, including new phones and TVs. The show also hosts a multitude of kitchen appliances, because we all need to keep an eye out for the latest in blender, washing machine and freezer technology. The show kicks off in Berlin in a few days' time, and before we fly out to Germany, here's what we're expecting to see pop up.


For years, IFA was where Samsung would unveil the newest version of the Galaxy Note to an increasingly-adoring crowd. But the Korean company now prefers to hold a separate event a few days before IFA kicks off. As a consequence, smartphones from LG and Sony have a better chance of stealing the hearts and minds of the folks at the show.

LG's strategy of telling you everything about its phone before it's actually been announced means that the V30 is already pretty familiar. We know, for instance, that the device will unlock at the sight of your face or the sound of your voice. The almost bezel-free smartphone should have good photography chops, with the company boasting that the camera has the lowest f-stop seen on a phone.

Sony, similarly, hasn't been able to keep much of a lid on its plans for the show, and it looks like it has two new devices ready for launch. The Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact are, big surprise, a flagship and its scaled-down sibling that will reportedly pack high-end specs. It's believed that both handsets won't come cheap, with British prices for both handsets pegged at £599 ($766) and £499 ($638), respectively.

Motorola, meanwhile, will launch the long-awaited X4 -- a device we heard about in a leak dating back as far as May. Distributors inadvertently published images of the new device, as well as a spec-sheet revealing what's tucked inside. The 5.2-inch device is packing a 2.2GHz octa-core processor with a choice of 3GB or 4GB RAM and a 3,000mAh battery.

In more surprising news, BlackBerry has posted a video saying that it's going to do ... something at the show. The fact that the company very specifically mentions the KEYOne means that it's probably not going to be new hardware. GSMArena believes that it could be an unveiling of a global release for an all-black version of the phone that initially launched in India. Anything more than that is going to be a very pleasant surprise, for sure.


It's likely that IFA 2017 isn't going to be the best show for wearables, at least not compared to how many debuted in 2016. The rumors about new devices have dropped off considerably, and we wouldn't be surprised if things continued to slow down.

Samsung will probably dominate the headlines with a pair of devices for the wrist that we're expecting to launch at the show. The first is the Gear Fit 2 Pro, an improvement on the original Gear Fit 2 that will be able to play Spotify music offline and track your swimming.

The bigger news, however, will be the fourth entry in the Gear S line, the Gear Sport, that was found in documents submitted to the FCC. Details are justifiably scarce apart from the fact that the device will have an optical heart rate monitor, Bluetooth and WiFi. But, it's a Gear smartwatch with the word Sport in the name, so you can pretty much guess the rest.

Garmin, a regular fixture at the show, is likely to have an incremental update to its line of fitness-focused watches. Given that the company normally plays to its strengths, expect sleeker, smoother and generally better running watches and activity trackers. Wareable believes that we can expect an update to the Vivoactive with a snazzier design.

We're also expecting plenty more hybrid smartwatches with analog faces complementing features such as activity tracking and mobile payments. Although given that many of the more prominent watch brands announced the bulk of their wares at Baselworld, IFA will likely showcase the stragglers.

Sound, Vision and Everything Else

There are plenty of other companies that we expect to unveil products at the show but have yet to hear much through the rumor mill. Because these companies usually wait for IFA opens its doors for the big unveil, it's quite reasonable to expect the situation to remain in place. Bang & Olufsen, for instance, are likely to wheel out a speaker or new headphones for its lower-end Beoplay line.

Similarly, you can expect to see a bevy of new televisions that are both bigger and better than whatever was announced last year. Samsung, Sony and LG will all want to show off their new TVs with 4K and 8K resolutions, HDR and everything else. In addition, if you're still clinging to physical formats, expect plenty of Blu-ray players that'll show off the bleeding edge of what discs can do. Because IFA is also an appliance show, you can expect to see plenty of cool smart-home tech, especially from Philips. The Hue-maker is probably feeling the pinch from so many upstart competitors in the smart lighting space. But there's a reason that the company has remained king of the hill for so long, with innovative and cool products that you want to put in your living room.

Philips hue personal wireless lights, manufactured by Royal Philips NV, sit illuminated during the company's annual general meeting in Amsterdam, Netherlands, on Thursday, May 1, 2014. Philips is focusing on higher-margin areas such as lighting products that save energy, and health and wellness offerings, to move away from its consumer-electronics past amid competition from Asian rivals such as Samsung Electronics Co. and Sony Corp. Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

On the personal-computing front, very little has filtered through the channels about new devices for the show. But we can at least hope for some refreshed tablets and laptops as we head into the holiday season. Not to mention keep our hearts open for news of new VR and MR headsets from companies looking to lure more than just the early adopter to their platform.

Of course, all of this is idle speculation until the companies' respective CEOs stand on stage and announce their products to the world.