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What to expect at this year's IFA

Engadget Engadget 29/08/2016 Nicole Lee
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IFA, one of the world's largest consumer electronics trade shows, starts this week in Berlin. It's not quite as big as CES, but it can be a good insight into what lies ahead in the holiday shopping season. IFA is often the place where companies announce washing machines and kitchen appliances, but there's usually plenty of phones, wearables, PCs and TVs too. Here's what we expect to see at IFA this year:

Smartphones and tablets

Samsung used to make IFA the home for its annual Note announcements, but that changed last year. 2016 marks the second year in a row the company opted to launch the newest Note, as well as the latest Gear VR, at their own Unpacked event. That doesn't mean Samsung won't have anything to show at IFA, but it likely won't have any phones on the docket.

Still, IFA won't be completely bereft of mobile news. Sony has made a habit of revising its Xperia lineup at IFA and we expect to see more of that this time around. We've heard tales of an Xperia X Compact, which appears to be a smaller version of the Xperia X Performance. Leaked specs have pointed to a 13-megapixel rear camera, 4GB of RAM, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor as well as 32GB of internal storage. Seeing as it's a "Compact" model, we also expect a 4.7 inch display with full HD resolution.

Moving on to other mobile events, Huawei's September 1st event invitation entices us to "Defy Expectations" with what looks like the curved edge of either a phone or a tablet. Though ASUS announced the ZenFone 3 series at Computex, it could unveil a mid-tier offering at IFA. ZTE, which already showed off the Axon 7 and the Zmax Pro earlier this year, could have more to say about Project CSX, its unique crowdsourced handset. Nubia, a ZTE sub-brand, is also holding an event of its very own, which likely means we'll see one or two new phones there as well.

Plus, just because Samsung has already shown its hand as far as phones go, doesn't mean that we won't spy any new tablets. Rumors point to a possible Galaxy Tab S3, the successor to last year's Galaxy Tab S2. There could also be a new tablet from Lenovo with a "new kind of intuitive keyboard," if this brief peek at Lenovo's IFA 2016 event is to be believed.

Wearables and other accessories

Much more than just phones and tablets, IFA is becoming a bit of a wearables show. Samsung already made a not-too-subtle hint that its first event in Berlin will focus on the Gear S3. The invitation has a watch face design on it as well as the words "Talk About 3" and "Gear." There are also rumors that there'll be three versions of the S3: The Classic, the Explorer and the Frontier. The latter two will supposedly focus on fitness, with various sensors like an altimeter and a barometer.

We could see other companies refresh their Android Wear offerings too. Huawei hasn't updated its premium Watch wearable since last year and ASUS' ZenWatch 2 could use a refresh as well. On the simpler side of the wearable spectrum, Fitbit has already announced the sequels to the Flex and the Charge, which we'll see at IFA this week. It'll also be interesting to see if Nokia-owned Withings will have anything to show -- an update to the Activite is a long-time coming after all.

We could see other companies update their Android Wear offerings too. Huawei hasn't updated its premium Watch wearable since last year and ASUS' ZenWatch 2 could use a refresh as well. On the simpler side of the wearable spectrum, Fitbit has already announced the sequels to the Flex and the Charge, which we'll see at IFA this week. It'll also be interesting to see if Nokia-owned Withings will have anything to show -- an update to the Activite is a long-time coming.

Aside from the Xperia phone, Sony will probably also give us a closer look at the Xperia Eye, a lifelogging camera you wear around your neck, plus the Xperia Ear, a Bluetooth headset that looks a lot like Moto's Hint.

Everything else

Aside from the usual phones and wearables, we'll also likely see a bevy of new 4K and 8K televisions from the likes of Samsung, Sony and LG. New laptops are also on the horizon; Acer's press conference invitation shows what looks like a profile of an extremely thin notebook and Lenovo might surprise us with yet another Yoga laptop or two. As with so many trade shows this year, we also expect to see the odd robot or drone on the show floor.

Last but not least, we have to mention virtual reality. 2016 is said to be the year VR goes mainstream, and we could see more evidence of that at IFA. We've already seen a sneak peek at what looks like an ASUS VR headset and Huawei has promised that it would be making a Gear VR competitor too.

As always, there will probably be products at IFA that we don't expect as well. We'll be liveblogging the Samsung mobile event on August 31st at 12pm ET so stay tuned for that and keep your eyes glued to the site for more news out of Berlin.

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