IFA 2020: What’s happening to Europe’s biggest tech expo this year?
IFA Berlin is one of the most significant spots on the calendar for product launches but it’s having to change in 2020.
IFA, or Internationale Funkausstellung, is Europe’s biggest tech show. Held in Berlin over the first few days of September, it’s the place where LG, Samsung Philips and Sony launch their European TV ranges. We also see a lot of audio products launched at the show as well as smart home gear. There’s also a lot of kitchen tech, too.
The Berlin government has already announced (April 2020) a ban on all events with more than 5,000 participants until 24 October 2020. That means the decision to go ahead with the show in 2020 has been taken out of the organisers’ hands.
The show started in 1924 as a radio convention and in 2021 it’ll be back in the huge Messe Berlin complex. Unlike many such shows, IFA is open to the public, meaning anyone can go and marvel at the latest and greatest technology.
So how will IFA 2020 be held?
The organizers of IFA, gfu and Messe Berlin, says that it “anticipated this development [that it wouldn’t be able to physically hold the show] and for several weeks now have been discussing a range of alternative concepts.”
Yes, you read that right – “alternative concepts”. In reality, this means that the event is going to be virtual, probably with a day or two of round-robin press conferences online.
There may also be an element where companies can easily arrange virtual meetings with other companies, journalists and analysts.
However, the trend of the last couple of years is that companies have been organising their own events in favour of shows – it’s unclear whether there will be an appetite from large tech organisations to pay to be part of something they could just as easily organise themselves virtually on a different day with their own selection of attendees.
We’ll bring you more when we know more.
What happened at last year’s IFA
Acer at IFA 2019
Acer used IFA 2019 to make a range of announcements. There’s updates to a number of laptop lines with the Acer Swift 5 now getting discrete graphics options to give it more gaming power. For the more serious gamer there is the Predator Triton 300, offering serious specs in a portable gaming laptop while keeping the price in check.
Acer has also run out a range of Chromebook updates, providing plenty of options no matter what your notebook demands are.
Amazon at IFA 2019
Amazon used IFA 2019 to double-down on Fire TV, launching a huge range of devices as it looks to dominate the biggest screen in your home. There’s an updated Fire TV Cube – now coming to the UK as well as the US – while there’s also a push to offer more televisions running on FireOS. The big news here is a partnership with JVC that’s going to offer a 4K HDR smart TV in the UK from £349 – and in other European markets too.
There’s also a Fire TV soundbar from Anker, integrating Amazon’s TV service directly, making it incredibly easy to boost your TV’s sound and add connected smarts at the same time. Fire TV looks to be Amazon’s big new push.
Asus at IFA 2019
Asus used its press conference to announce a range of products to Europe, some of which we previously saw at Computex. New, however, was the VivoWatch SP, a new wearable that will not only track your exercise but your vital statistics like blood pressure too. Joining the updates list is the ROG Zephyrus S with 300Hz display, plenty of high-end laptops for content creators and confirmation that the ROG Phone 2 will cost you €899 in Europe.
Fossil at IFA 2019
Fossil has a full showcase of devices at IFA 2019. We’ve seen had the Fossil Gen 5 smartwatch and now it’s the turn of brands that sit on the Fossil platform. New to the collection is a Puma smartwatch, offering sports tracking with GPS, heart rate, mobile payments and a whole lot more. Elsewhere there’s a whole new collection of Kors watches for those looking for a bit of smart bling.
Garmin at IFA 2019
Garmin has gone big at IFA 2019, updating a number of models to make it even more appealing to jump into the Garmin life. Leading the charge is the Garmin Venu, which looks like Garmin’s rival to the Apple Watch. That’s thanks to an AMOLED display, which should give luscious visuals alongside a wide range of health and fitness tracking features and connected functions. The features look very much the same as the new Vivoactive 4, which looks like the same watch but with a regular display.
Then there is a little more excitement for Marvel fans, with the launch of the Legacy Hero watches with Captain America and Captain Marvel options. Underneath it’s a Garmin watch, but it’s a little less sporty and a little more superhero.
Huawei at IFA 2019
Huawei took to the stage to deliver the opening keynote at IFA 2019, taking the opportunity to launch a couple of new colours for the flagship Huawei P30 Pro model. It also announced new FreeBuds 3, its own take on Apple’s AirPods, but with fast charging and active noise cancellation.
The big new announcement, however, was for the Kirin 990. This next-gen chipset will be in the Huawei Mate 30 launching later in the month and there will also be a version with an integrated 5G modem. It promises to be the most powerful AI chip around – and we’ll soon be seeing it in a real device.
There was no mention of the company’s current struggles with the US.
JBL at IFA 2019
JBL, part of Harman, launched a number of fun speakers at IFA 2019. The most eye-catching is the JBL Pulse 4, not only offering 360-degree sound, but also 360-degree lights. It’s the complete party in one neat package – and its waterproof too. Where’s the keg?
JBL also added Google Assistant to the Link, launched a new portable smart speaker.
Lenovo at IFA 2019
Lenovo announced lots at IFA, updating a wide range of Yoga devices – with the Yoga C940 packing multimedia power into a flexible design. The company also launched a new smart display, the Lenovo Smart Display 7, which looks like a Google Assistant-powered rival the Amazon Echo Show, a great addition to any smart home.
Lenovo also launched new tablets, the Smart Tab M8 and the Yoga Smart Tab. These Android tablets take advantage of Google Assistant’s new Ambient Mode, which basically lets them behave like a smart display when not in use.
LG at IFA 2019
LG announces everything before anyone arrives in Berlin, but it still seems to be a fairly quiet show for LG. But that hasn’t stopped the company putting out an updated version of its Dual Screen phone. No, this isn’t a folding phone, it’s an accessory with a display in it, with some clever software to let the phone use both displays. We first saw it on the LG V50, but now it’s on the LG G8X Dual Screen, with an updated version of the G8 powering things.
Motorola at IFA 2019
Motorola made two announcements at IFA. The first was the Moto One Zoom. This is a mid-range phone, running on Android One, with a quad camera system on the back. It offers zoom, wide-angle and depth sensing, looking to deliver a premium experience at a fraction of the price. It also has a massive battery.
The second device from Moto was in the affordable end with the Moto E6 Plus. This gives you a big display, dual camera, but all at a low price.
Nokia at IFA 2019
HMD Global – who own Nokia – has appeared at IFA for the first time. Ok, they’ve been in Berlin at the same time before, but the official first HMD Global press conference has taken place. It was a packed conference too. The big announcements were really the Nokia 7.2 and Nokia 6.2, a pair of mid-range updates, with bringing a triple camera to an affordable handset.
But the attention is likely to be taken by the new Nokia 2720 Flip – this is a feature phone, but running KaiOS, it has some Google services, including Google Assistant – meaning you can talk to this non-smartphone. there’s also the Nokia 800 Tough, as the company looks to cement its leadership in feature phones globally.
Philips at IFA 2019
Philips has made a number of announcements including new OLED TVs, which support just about everything: Dolby Vision, HDR10+, Dolby Atmos, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa – and have Ambilight as well. These are premium models with premium prices, but will be on sale right away. There’s also a new model coming to the UK – the Philips 754 OLED.
There’s also new Hue bulbs. Ok, so technically it’s no longer Philips (it’s Signify), but there’s a new Hue plug, Hue button and Hue filament bulbs, allowing a greater range of smart home options.
Philips has also expanded its headphones offering with new noise-cancelling options.
Razer at IFA 2019
Razer has announced the Blade Stealth 13 and Blade 15 at IFA 2019, bringing more power to the party. The Blade Stealth 13 is pitched as the world’s first gaming Ultrabook – as it’s thin, light and very portable, but still has loads of power. The new Razer Blade 15 makes the entry-level more affordable for those who want a gaming notebook without spending big bucks.
Samsung at IFA 2019
Samsung has used IFA 2019 to announce that its dynamic HDR10+ service will also work with 8K going forward. We’ve also had confirmation that the delayed Samsung Galaxy Fold will be available from 18 September in the UK – and Samsung has updated it to correct some of the design problems from its first reveal.
Samsung has also announced a smartphone chip with integrated 5G, which will pave the way for cheaper 5G phones in the future. It’s also been reiterated that there’s a 55-inch 8K QLED TV option, hitting that sweet spot foe UK homes – and it’s already on sale for £2999.
Sennheiser at IFA 2019
Sennheiser has updated its popular Momentum headphones, adding Tile tracking to make sure that you never lose them. This is part of a big push from Tile to integrate its tech into more Bluetooth devices natively. Active noise cancellation makes these an attractive set of headphones for travellers.
Sonos at IFA 2019
Sonos has made some important announcements at IFA, with the Sonos Move – a portable Bluetooth speaker, yes really, with support for Alexa and Google Assistant. Sonos is no longer limited by wires.
Less smart is the Sonos One SL – basically an update to the Sonos Play:1, so it’s a small speaker with no voice control. A bold move in these connected times – but a chance to update the small Sonos speaker for those who don’t want voice.
At the far end of the scale, Sonos Port is an update to Connect that will link your disconnected audio equipment into your Sonos system.
Sony at IFA 2019
Sony has launched a new flagship smartphone at IFA 2019 – the Sony Xperia 5. It’s basically the Xperia 1 Compact, with triple camera, 21:9 display and lots of power – but in a smaller 6.1 inch size.
Sony also updated its X1000 headphones, but this time it was the WI models, the in-ear noise-cancelling neckband style.
When is IFA 2019?
IFA 2019 is held in Berlin from 6-11 September. These are the dates that the show is open to the public at Messe Berlin.
However, the press days – when information about new products is released – fall on the days before, with Wednesday 4 and Thursday 5 September the big days that announcements are expected. In some cases, manufacturers release information in the weeks before the show, before revealing those new products to the public.