IFA 2018 preview: the smartphones and gadgets we're most excited to see

UPDATED: What to expect from Huawei, Samsung, Sony, Honor, Philips, and more

Every year, as summer comes to a close and autumn approaches, we welcome Berlin's IFA tech show and all of the wondrous gadgets it reveals to us. And that's true again this year.

From 31 August to 5 September, we're sure to see a slew of enticing new gadgets, from smartphones and tablets to wearable tech and all sorts of odd inventions. Last year, we got the LG V30, Fitbit Ionic, Lenovo Explorer headset, and plenty, plenty more.

What's coming this year? The rumours are starting to spill out, and so far we're expecting big announcements from the likes of Sony, Samsung, LG, Huawei, and more. Here's everything we've heard so far.

Samsung: Bixby home speaker, more

Amazon kicked off the A.I.-driven home speaker trend, and now Google and Apple have followed suit. Who's next? It's Samsung, naturally.

Bixby hasn't exactly been the most popular A.I. companion around, but with a big 2.0 version update coming later this year, rumours suggest that Samsung will unleash its own Bixby-powered home speaker – ideal for Galaxy smartphone owners who are familiar with Samsung's own creation.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Samsung is working on a pricey US$300 Bixby home speaker, which will have a "bowl-shaped" design with legs on the bottom and lights up top, along with a "sound shifting" ability that can focus playback in the direction of whoever's speaking to the device.

The report suggests a launch in the coming weeks, although it could debut at the Galaxy Note 9 Unpacked event on 9 August instead. Samsung had previously confirmed a second-half 2018 launch for a home speaker. The Wall Street Journal report pegs the speaker's codename as "Lux," while a trademark listing for "Magbee" could also be tied to it.

The Galaxy Tab S4 was just revealed, so it won't be news at IFA if it shows up there, but we might see the leaked Samsung Galaxy Watch there - unless it debuts alongside the Note 9, as well.

Sony: Xperia XZ3, XA3?

Sony just released its Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact earlier this year, and we liked both – but they've been somewhat lost in the flagship fray in recent months. Will the company make its next big move in a matter of weeks?

Possibly! It seems too soon, but the rumour mill suggests that an Xperia XZ3 will debut at IFA 2018, with unofficial renders based on factory leaks suggesting an even sleeker, curvier design. If the XZ2 flamed out with prospective buyers, then Sony might be itching to move onto the next thing right away.

The latest leaks suggest a slightly slimmer build, dual cameras, and more RAM than the XZ2. It doesn't sound like a massive upgrade, but maybe the myriad tweaks will make it more appealing overall.

Meanwhile, a certification listing also suggests that a mid-range Xperia XA3 is also on the near horizon. The Xperia XA2 was also quite nice and debuted back at the start of the year, but again, it could be a sign that Sony is shortening its release windows to stay ahead of the curve. We'll find out either way in just a few weeks.

LG: The V40 ThinQ?

The biggest reveal of IFA 2017 was the LG V30 (shown), and it sounds like LG may try to top that announcement by bringing the V40 ThinQ to this year's expo.

LG already released the LG V35 ThinQ in the States a couple months back, but the V40 ThinQ is rumoured to feature five total cameras: three on the back, like the chart-topping Huawei P20 Pro, along with a pair on the front to enable iPhone X-like 3D facial scanning.

Otherwise, we'd expect another pricey, high-end flagship with a focus on audio playback and visual creation. LG already confirmed that a V40 ThinQ is in the works, according to ETNews in mid-July, but they've suggested an October launch for the handset.

Might we see a sneak peak at IFA ahead of an October release, or will LG skip the event and wait 'til later this autumn?

What Hi-Fi also suggests that we might see LG's new SK10Y Atmos soundbar, and possibly further OLED TV models as well after debuting the strong OLED55C8PLA and OLED65E8PLA so far this year.

Huawei: The Mate 20?

We were big fans of last autumn's Huawei Mate 10 Pro, although this spring's P20 Pro really blew past it in terms of style and overall appeal. So what's next for the Mate line?

Unsurprisingly, leaks suggest the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro, although it's unclear whether it will debut at IFA 2018 or soon after. The Mate 10 Pro popped up shortly after the event last year, but maybe Huawei will take the opportunity to be part of IFA's buzz this time around.

The latest leaks point to a sleeker, notch-less build and huge screens - 6.3in on the Mate 20 and possibly 6.9in on the Mate 20 Pro. A P20 Pro-like triple-camera setup is expected for the Mate 20 Pro, as well, but probably not the standard model.

Rumours also suggest an in-display fingerprint sensor, like the one on the pricey Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS. The Mate 20 line is also where we expect to see the debut of Huawei's new Kirin 980 chip, which reportedly brings 20% more power and 40% better efficiency. We should also see big batteries on the devices, and possibly Android 9.0 P, if a firmware leak proves legitimate.

Nokia: The Nokia 9?

New Nokia brand owner HMD Global has gone wild with Nokia handset releases this year, but the next one could be the best of them all. Rumour has it that a Nokia 9 smartphone is in the works, and it'll be a full-bodied flagship that's even higher-end than the Nokia 8 Sirocco.

Pocket Lint cites rumours that the Nokia 9 will feature a penta-lens back camera setup – that's five cameras, topping the measly three seen on the Huawei P20 Pro. Granted, there have been versions of this rumour in the past for the Nokia 8 and a Nokia 10, neither of which panned out, so don't hold your breath. Other reports point to a triple-camera setup along the lines of the P20 Pro, and that seems like a much more resonable suggestion.

Elsewhere, reports claim a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chip, 6GB RAM, and possibly an in-display fingerprint sensor. The above speculative render comes from NokiaPowerUser, which says it's based on a source's "information and his own imagination." In other words, it's not real... but it could be close, if the information part of it is correct.

Looks and sounds pricey, but it would be nice to see a top-end Nokia flagship again. Will it debut at IFA?

Honor: Something 'Crazy'

Honor will also showcase something at IFA 2018, although we don't know exactly what just yet. According to Pocket-Lint, press invites promise a device that is "crazy fun" and "crazy smart."

Honor has just launched a couple of phones in China, as the site points out, so it could be the gaming-centric Honor Play or maybe the productivity-minded Honor Note 10. Maybe both, if the Play is "crazy fun" and the Note 10 is the "crazy smart" one? It makes sense.

The company currently has two phones on our list of the world's best smartphones right now, the Honor 9 Lite (shown) and Honor View 10, so we're obviously excited about anything they're planning to show us at IFA.

Panasonic: More TVs?

Panasonic has unleashed a large wave of televisions so far this year – which we helpfully detailed back in February – and What Hi-Fi expects to see more along those lines at IFA 2018. We concur. They believe that we might also see the upcoming DP-UB9000 4K Blu-ray player.

As the site points out, 2018 marks Panasonic's 100th year of existence, so they might take the opportunity to do something big at IFA following a birthday exhibition at CES in January.

Philips: TVs with B&W

Back in June, Philips and audio specialists Bowers & Wilkins announced a "new multi-year exclusive agreement" to put B&W speakers on Philips' televisions, although that's all we heard about it at the time.

However, they teased that we would get a "first glimpse of the potential of the new partnership will be unveiled at the IFA show in Berlin later this year." That's this show! B&W tech could be just the thing to help Philips' televisions truly stand out amongst the crowded pack in the coming years.

(Philips 50PUS6272 shown)