Internationale Funkausstellung, or IFA, is Europe’s largest trade show for consumer electronics that takes place from Aug. 31 to Sept. 5 in Berlin. And it’s going to be a little different this year.
IFA is not really about phones — it never was. The big phone show is Mobile World Congress in February, and there are tons of brand-specific events throughout the year. But a few major phone makers, including Samsung, LG, and Huawei, often launch big-name phones at IFA, stealing the headlines from the TVs, computers, wearables and tons of other gadgets unveiled there.
Not this year. Samsung already launched its Galaxy Note 9; Huawei will likely launch a new Mate smartphone in October, and word on the street is LG won’t launch a phone at the show, either.
And all of that is A-OK. IFA phone launches always seemed a bit forced anyway — as if the manufacturers don’t really like the late August/early September time slot and have to grumpily adjust their schedule to make those launches happen on time. Let’s face it: New iPhones are probably just weeks away, and no phone maker wants to be eclipsed by that. I’m not surprised we’ve finally reached the point where basically all major manufacturers have removed their phone launches to either a month ahead or a month after IFA.
But the most interesting news coming from IFA was never phones, anyway. It was huge TVs with insane resolutions, extra-capacitous memory cards, insane gaming computers, and, most of all, totally bonkers gadgets such as this swan-adorned TV.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got nothing against phones, especially if they’re of the innovative variety, like the Asus ROG phone (which we hope to get a glimpse of at IFA this year). But IFA is just too much fun (legions of air purifiers and washing machines aside) to be eclipsed by a couple of phone launches.
No phones, lots of fun
So what can we expect this year? Well, Asus, Acer, Dell, Toshiba, Bang & Olufsen and Beyerdynamic all have events at this year’s show, and that means tons of TVs, monitors, laptops, desktop PCs, speakers, and headphones. LG and Samsung will also have a presence at IFA, and I don’t doubt the two Korean giants will try to outshine one another with ginormous TVs as they do nearly ever year. Panasonic also typically has a huge, exciting booth, and Philips will likely have something to show as well.
Fitbit announced its new Charge 3 fitness tracker just days ago, ruining the surprise, but other wearables makers, including Casio, will have a presence at the show, so we might see a cool new smartwatch (or three) at the show as well.
Finally, though we can’t go into specifics, through the grapevine we heard there will be new robots, self-driving tech, and cool AR/VR stuff at the show as well. And let’s not forget that every year, some unknown Chinese manufacturer brings a totally crazy gadget that ends up being a star.
Of course, IFA won’t be completely absent of phones this year: Huawei’s sub-brand Honor will likely launch a new phone, and Sony and HTC might (key word is might) have something to show as well.
Still, with no flagship phone from a major brand (last year there was just one, the LG V30), this year’s IFA will be a bit different than usual. And if fun and crazy gadgets take the center stage instead of (often boring) phones, well, I wouldn’t mind that at all.