Oompah bands, bavarian bierkellers, techno and technology. Yep, it's that time of year again: IFA 2019, Europe's largest tech-filled tradeshow, is gearing up for its annual Berlin showcase.
Outside of CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, it's one of the most important dates in the tech calendar, with brands like Samsung, LG, Sony and many, many more all competing for attention as they show their latest and greatest technological wares.
From phones to TVs, speakers to computers, IFA 2019 will cover the full gamut of consumer technology.
So what should you expect from IFA 2019? Which manufacturers will be bringing the big guns, and will there be any surprises in store for us? Let the TechRadar editors talk you through one of the biggest tech shows of the year.
What you need to know
- What is IFA? Held annually in Berlin, IFA is Europe's largest consumer tech conference, showcasing the upcoming launches from some of the world's biggest electronics brands. Its origins date back to 1924, when it began as a radio convention.
- When is IFA 2019? IFA 2019 will be held over September 6 to 11, 2019. However, press get early access to the site, and some launches are revealed prior to the show too, so expect to see news coming out of IFA a week or so earlier than that, ramping up from September 4.
- Which brands are exhibiting? If it's a consumer-tech focused company, you can bet your bottom dollar they'll be there, from Acer to ZTE and everyone in between. Some companies may host separate events away from the main Messe conference center in Berlin, but almost all will have a presence. The only big name missing will be Apple, which always chooses to skip IFA and CES.
Latest IFA 2019 news and rumors
Hundreds, if not thousands, of exhibitors will be lining the halls of Berlin's Messe conference center for IFA 2019. It's an all-encompassing show, where you'll have drone designers rubbing shoulders with microwave makers.
Navigating the show and all its news can be a nightmare. So, in the run up to the flood of announcements set to soak the newswires, here's a run down of what we're expecting to see from all the major players.
Computing company Acer always puts on a show during IFA, and for 2019 it's even hosting a keynote session where we're expecting a large chunk of its upcoming line-up to be revealed.
IFA tends to be the place where Acer's Predator gaming lineup receives updates, and is often where Acer debuts concept products, such as the Predator 21X gaming laptop or the Acer Predator Thronos gaming chair. Expect to see a strong showing from the company.
With its Ryzen 3000 CPUs riding high, and its Navi rDNA graphics architecture expected to power the Xbox Project Scarlett and PS5 consoles, AMD has its hands full at the moment. Though it usually has a presence at IFA, we're not expecting any big announcements from the company this time around.
BlackBerry! Yep, remember those handsets? They've not gone completely the way of the dodo just yet. There was activity around the BlackBerry brand with a new handset (now made by TCL) arriving in 2018 in the form of the BlackBerry Key2 LE.
But with no sign of the Key3 in 2019 so far, and the brands' overall fortunes showing no sign of recovery any time soon, we'd say it's pretty unlikely we'll see a handset bearing the BB name at IFA this year.
We expect to see plenty of new products from Dell at IFA 2019. Dell could surprise us with another XPS product reveal or use this opportunity to catch its other product lines up to speed with current computing trends.
Dell and Alienware truly have been wild cards at IFA in years past – if there's one area it might steal the headlines, it'd be on its gaming hardware, so keep an eye on the Alienware gear coming out of the show.
Wearables continue to have a strong showing at IFA, and Fossil often announces new watches at the show. Could the Fossil Sport 2 make an appearance? If not, expect other brands like Michael Kors or Diesel to fill in that watch-shaped gap around your wrist.
As with Fossil, Garmin likes to hit IFA with a range of sports-focussed wearables. But it's in a slightly different position this year, coming into the show hot on the heels of a busy period of announcements. Expect to see variants of Garmin's existing lines, rather than anything brand spanking new.
The Houston-based computer maker generally doesn't make a big splash at IFA, preferring the halls of Computex or CES. We might see one or two new products launch at the show, but not much more than that. Stranger things have happened.
With its first range of OLED TVs finally hitting store shelves, Hisense will be doubling down on the technology at IFA 2019 we'd imagine. It's current top-tier OLED TV has a high asking price, but lacks some of the more premium features that its competition offers.
Though the brand tends to lean towards the affordable and budget end of the market, we're hoping to see at least one grandstanding set that aims towards more luxurious features at a more attainable price point.
Here's one that could turn out to be a bit of a surprise. Honor announced the Honor Magic 2 at IFA in 2018, but did further promo around the already-announced Honor Play at the show, too. The Honor 9X, 9X Pro and Honor Band 5 have just launched in China, so IFA could IFA perhaps be their European debut? Regardless, as the company sits under the Huawei umbrella, expect the parent brand to do most of the talking.
Last year, Huawei saved its big-hitting Mate 20 / 20 Pro launch for after IFA, but it did however introduce the range with the Mate 20 Lite in Berlin. We could see something similar here, with a mid-range handset launched, maybe with the Mate 30 name. You're unlikely to see a flagship launch though, with the company now favoring its own solo shows.
The company also has been dabbling with smart speaker tech, its AI Cube being both audio device and 4G router. Could a 5G update be on the cards?
We could also see Huawei unleash a new MateBook at the tech event. Its laptops, like the Huawei MateBook 14 are some of our favorite laptops, so we're looking forward to maybe seeing some more computing products from the company.
Intel will be showing at IFA 2019. With the competition against AMD tougher than its been for quite some time, we're expecting them to go relatively big at IFA. We think Intel might have some 10th-generation Comet Lake processors to show off, as well as Project Athena laptops.
The company behind Yoga laptops and Motorola phones has a major nighttime event planned for IFA 2019 called "Tech Life," which will play host to a number of product unveilings. It's likely that more of Lenovo's flagship products for 2019 could be unveiled here, including new Yoga and ThinkPad devices.
Keep in mind that Lenovo increasingly steps into the smart home arena too. We were very impressed earlier this year with the Lenovo Smart Clock, for instance. Don't be surprised if it adds more to its smart home line up as a result.
TV and home cinema tech will be the main attractions of LG's IFA showcase, no doubt, as the company (being the only actual manufacturer of the technology) continues to sign the praises of its OLED TV tech.
It also tends to have mid-range handsets at the show. In 2018 is was the LG G7 One and LG G7 Fit – building off the flagship line at lower price points. In terms of audio, we'd be hoping to see further fruits from its partnership with UK experts Meridian Audio.
But LG is a giant of the industry, and has its hand in essentially every technological consumer space imaginable, from freezers to laptops, monitors to robotics. Last year its CLOi bots were future-gazing highlights of the show.
The phone branch of Lenovo has become a bastion of hope for those looking for high-end smartphone features on a tighter budget. Usually Moto has a phone or two to show at IFA – in 2018 we got the Motorola One, a respectable mid-range handset, for instance. Though it's unlikely to have a new flagship in Berlin, more mid-rangers are certainly on the cards if past exhibitions are anything to go by.
With the European (read: better) arm of Philips TV division unable to show at CES, we're expecting big, big things from the brand at IFA 2019. It's the manufacturer's time to shine, and we'd expect a snazzy new OLED Ambilight flagship to launch at the show.
In addition, Philips is once again ramping up its audio offering, dusting off its long-neglected Fidelio range. It was once a mighty player in headphones – could it come back to reclaim its position?
IFA used to be a huge phone show for Samsung – quite literally, as it's where it first revealed its then-massive Note smartphone range. But with no new launches at 2018's show, and the company unlikely to have anything major in terms of phones, tablets or wearables following its Galaxy Unpacked event on August 7 (where we expect to see Note 10, Watch Active 2 and maybe even the Galaxy Tab S6), expect a quieter mobile offering from the brand at IFA 2019.
Don't totally rule it out though, as it always has a press conference and a big presence at the show – expect it instead to focus on its blindingly-bright QLED TV sets.
As with LG, Samsung has a hand in many consumer-tech brackets. So if you're on the market for a washing machine or new connected fridgefreezer, wait until you've seen what the company's IFA 2019 press conference has to offer.
IFA tends to be a big show for Sony, where it has historically launched smartphones. Previous years introduced the Xperia Z3, so don't rule out the appearance of the Xperia 2 (leading on from the 21:9 ratio Xperia 1 launched earlier in 2019). There's also a chance we'll see mid-range devices too.
In 2018 it also used the show to launch the odd FES Watch U wearable. There's a chance we may see more wearables this year, or at least some intriguing concept designs.
Sony will of course also have plenty of Android TV-powered OLED sets on display. But what are we really the most excited about? We're holding out hope for a follow up to the world-beating noise cancelling headphones, the Sony WH-1000XM3 cans, which were revealed at last year's show.
The shadow of the PS5 will be looming over the event but, alas – we will eat our laptops if the company chose IFA as its new console launchpad.
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