6 things we can’t wait to see at IFA 2016
It’s one of the gadget world’s annual migrations: the late summer surge to Berlin for IFA.
Known as the Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin to its mates, Europe’s premier consumer tech show has taken over the German capital for a few days each year since 1924 (with a few years’ gap 1939-1950, for reasons that you can probably work out on your own). It’s been the stage for many huge product launches in the world of TV, audio, home cinema, photography, computing and smartphones – and 2016’s show looks to be no exception.
But you want specifics, don’t you? So, without further ado, here are the things we’re most looking forward to seeing (apart from a frosty stein of local lager) when we arrive in Berlin on 2 September.
Sony’s greatest Xperia yet?
Sony Xperia X Performance
Sony typically unveils new cameras, televisions and mobile gear at IFA each year and this time we’re fairly certain something particularly noteworthy is coming in the latter category: a new flagship Xperia smartphone.
XperiaBlog unearthed benchmark details of a new Sony handset type codenamed F833X, with specs that sit very close to those of the current Xperia X Performance: Snapdragon 820 processor, 3GB of RAM, 5.1in 1080p screen, 32GB of internal storage, 23MP rear-facing camera and 13MP front-facing camera.
While these are hardly bleeding edge tech specs, there’s likely to be something else, feature-wise, to differentiate this phone from the Xperia X Performance: something special on the build quality or camera front, perhaps? Then again, given that the X Performance never got a full UK launch, perhaps this is just Sony's way of making amends. Could this be an Xperia X2? Or something else? We’ll know more soon.
Fitbit Charge 2
A leaked image of the Fitbit Charge 2
There are already a fair few Fitbits to choose from, but the beloved sports tracker range looks likely to grow at IFA 2016, thanks to the introduction of the Fitbit Charge 2.
The current Charge is a simple wristband activity tracker that records activity and sleep, but according to Techno Buffalo, its successor looks set to raise the stakes with a larger display and new PurePulse heart rate tracking (there is no heart rate monitor in the current Charge, but there is one in the Charge HR). That capacious display means it can function almost as a smartwatch by displaying notifications from a paired smartphone. That's very useful, especially if you're not in the market for a full-fat smartwatch, but aren't averse to wearing a fitness tracker.
It appears that Fitbit is looking for the Charge 2 to hit the market in November 2016, which makes IFA (at which the company has a stand) the ideal time to unveil it. Stay tuned, fitness freaks.
4K Blu-ray going mainstream
Panasonic 4K Blu-ray player
With games consoles adding compatibility, 4K video can finally be called mainstream (maybe your gran has even heard of it, yeah?). And yet the range of dedicated Ultra HD Blu-ray players – arguably the highest quality 4K source one can currently own – is disappointingly tiny. You've got the Panasonic UMP-DB900, the Samsung UBD-K8500 and... er, that's pretty much your lot.
We’re sure to see a shedload of new 4K tellies and projectors being shown off at IFA 2016, so why not a few more 4K-compatible Blu-ray players? Sony, Samsung, LG, Panasonic and Philips could all potentially launch new disc-spinners with both Ultra HD and HDR skills, and then there are the specialist home cinema manufacturers like Onkyo and Denon, who may have some truly high-end 4K gear up their sleeves.
Samsung Gear S3 smartwatch
Having just launched the fantastic Galaxy Note 7, you might think Samsung would be keen to take a break from announcing new products. But it seems very unlikely that the Korean company will let IFA pass without unveiling something newsworthy, because it’s holding its own conference on the morning of 1 September – and we reckon we know what’s coming.
It’s a new smartwatch. The Gear S3, no less – the hints in Samsung’s invitations (clock hands, a watch face and the words “talk about 3”) leave little doubt in our minds. We mean, duh, c'mon. It's going to be a bloomin' smartwatch, isn't it?
But what do we know about the Gear S3? Not much, really – the pre-launch rumour mill has been very quiet where it’s concerned, so we’ve heard little more than “it’ll run Tizen” – but we’re eager to see what Samsung, currently on a golden run when it comes to mobile tech products, can pull of the bag with its third major smartwatch. Hopefully it's a major step up from the Gear S2, which struggled to impress beyond its nifty bezel.
Mo' Moto Mods and a bendy tablet from Lenovo
Lenovo/Motorola has been pretty brash in the run-up to IFA, releasing the above video that promises nothing less than a deluge of groundbreaking products that will engulf show attendees in pure unadulterated innovation.
One thing that’s explicitly mentioned is a new range of Moto Mod magnetic add-ons for Motorola phones, which should be interesting. So far we’ve seen power pack, projector, protective shell and speaker Moto Mods for the Moto Z, so there’s definitely scope for more – we've got our fingers and toes crossed for a camera.
The video also tells us to expect the unveiling of “a new chapter” in tablets, and shows clips of Lenovo’s bendy concept slates. Could, perhaps, an actual retail product with a flexible screen be next?
LG to Flex once more?
LG G Flex 2
Speaking of bendy gadgets, while LG’s IFA presence is often centred around the company’s impressive television range, this year there are suggestions that we may see the third generation of the company’s G Flex bendable phone (let’s call it the “G Flex 3”).
PhonesSpot says IFA 2016 will see the announcement of a G Flex 3 with a Snapdragon 820 CPU, a 5.5in QHD display, a16MP/8MP dual rear-facing camera, an 8MP front-facing camera, 4GB of RAM and 32/64GB of expandable internal memory. It’ll reportedly also have a modular design, like the LG G5, and retain the self-healing plastic body, which can shrug off minor scratches, of the previous G Flex phones.
Spec-wise, that all sounds plausible enough, but we’re not entirely convinced. The thing that seems off is the fact that LG is launching a phone (the V20) in San Francisco on 6 September, less than a week after IFA begins. Would the company debut two very similarly specced devices separately, yet so close together? It seems unlikely, quite frankly, but we’ve got our fingers crossed anyway: we want a new banana phone!