IFA Berlin 2013: Huge Phones, Smart Watches and 4K
Although CES and Mobile World Congress, which take place in January and February, are the first big consumer electronics events of the year, it’s Berlin’s IFA that gives us the first important announcements after the summer doldrums.
As such, IFA (which stands for Internationale Funkausstellung, if you’re curious) has gained in importance in recent years, with nearly all tech giants (sans Apple, which shuns these types of conferences anyway) having some kind of big product launch, usually accompanied by several smaller ones.
Samsung and Sony Go Big
Last year, it was a Samsung and Sony show. Samsung has announced Galaxy Note II, as well as a Windows-based tablet and the first Windows Phone 8 smartphone. Sony has given us a trio of new smartphones as well as several tablets and Ultrabook laptops.
This year won’t be much different. Ahead of IFA, which officially takes place Sept. 6 – 11, both Samsung and Sony will have special events. The keyword this year is “smart watch.”
That’s right, Samsung has officially confirmed it would be showing off its smart watch, dubbed Galaxy Gear, on September 4. It will not have a flexible screen, Samsung said, but it will be a stylish companion for your Android smartphone (although the watch isn’t Android-based). The bigger and better Galaxy Note 3 will also be there, and we bet we’ll see Samsung’s curved OLED TV and a few 4K TVs scattered around Messe Berlin, where all the IFA action happens.
Sony has already announced its Android-powered SmartWatch 2 (yes, there was a first one as well, launched in 2012). It becomes available in September, which makes IFA the perfect place to remind the world of its existence. But Sony’s biggest launch at IFA will likely be the Xperia Z1, a waterproof smartphone which was sort of revealed in a teaser video (below) a few days ago. We don’t know much about the device except for its water resistance, but rumors say it’ll have a new, 20-megapixel camera sensor.
TVs, Hybrids and Very Big Smartphones
Lenovo and LG have also sent out invites for events on Sept. 5. LG told us it would be showing a smorgasbord of audio video products, such as the Sound Plate, a minimalistic, 35mm high speaker that you can place underneath a TV to save space, or the NB4530A soundbar, also a nimble companion to your TV.
Lenovo promises “multi-mode” product technology, meaning form factor borders will be further blurred, though at this point we don’t know exactly how.
Of course, we also expect to see a number of other Ultrabooks and tablet hybrid PCs, both from companies such as Toshiba and from smaller-name manufacturers.
Finally, HTC will show off its One Max, a 5.9-inch Android 4.3 phablet which is rumored to have a Snapdragon 800 processor, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage.
Absentees and the Shadow of the iPhone
Chinese giants such as ZTE and Huawei, which had huge announcements at this year’s MWC in Barcelona, are mostly staying quiet at IFA this year. Nokia hasn’t announced anything, either, and that probably means Microsoft will stay out of the spotlight as well.
Finally, as mentioned in the introduction, Apple will not be at IFA 2013. However, the Cupertino giant is rumored to be showing the next iPhone (5S, most likely) on Sept. 10, as IFA winds down. A big iPhone-related leak could overshadow IFA announcements from the companies mentioned above, so we’ll be keeping a close eye on those as well.
Even without the iPhone rumors, an exciting week is ahead of us. We’ll know a lot more about an new category of devices (smart watches), we’ll see pixel counts in TVs pushed to insane new levels, and we’ll get a bunch of new Android tablets/phablets to play with. Tune in and join the fun on Sept. 4!