The Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin (translated as “International radio exhibition Berlin” but mostly known as IFA 2019) starts at the beginning of September. The consumer electronics trade show is one of the biggest in the world and usually hosts multiple smartphone announcements.
As we lead up to the crucial holiday season, nearly every major brand will use IFA 2019 as a launching pad not only for smartphones, but for tablets, laptops, headphones, and other electronic devices.
Last year, we saw the launch of the Sony Xperia XZ3, the Huawei Mate 20 Lite, the Honor Play, the BlackBerry Key2 LE, and many other interesting new phones. This year, we expect to see a few flagships, some mid-rangers, and who knows, maybe some big surprises.
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IFA 2019: Dates and important info
IFA 2019 formally starts September 6, 2019, and ends five days later on September 11. The event happens at the Messe Berlin convention center in Berlin, Germany.
IFA 2019 will start on September 6 and run until September 11.
Although IFA is open to the public starting September 6, many of the announcements are already happening. Below we take a look at some of the chief announcements so far (in no particular order).
IFA 2019: Everything announced so far
Huawei launches major new chip and more
Huawei is battling for its life, but you wouldn’t know that by watching today’s IFA launch event. The company called out competitors, announced major new products, and seemed more-or-less unfazed by the entire U.S. ban.
- Huawei Kirin 990: This is the chip that will enable key features on Huawei’s upcoming flagships, including the Mate 30 Pro. Built on the latest 7nm process, but using an older Cortex core design, Kirin 990 won’t bring a huge improvement in terms of CPU performance, but that’s not surprising – mobile CPUs are plenty fast already. The chip’s GPU is a different story – it’s much larger than on the previous generation, ensuring improved performance for gaming. The NPU has also been enhanced with a new small core that will kick in for everyday tasks like facial recognition. And, of course, 5G is on board – the Kirin 990 is the first flagship SoC to incorporate a 5G modem.
- Huawei P30 Pro refresh: The upcoming Mate 30 Pro won’t arrive to Western markets for quite a while, leaving the P30 Pro to hold up the fort for Huawei. To help with the task, the company made a big deal of refreshed looks, new camera features and upgraded software on the “new” P30 Pro. Two new dual-tone colors await consumers starting September 20. Plus, a public beta for Android 10-based EMUI is coming very soon.
- FreeBuds 3: Billed as the world’s first true wireless earphones to sport Bluetooth 5.1, the new FreeBuds 3 challenge Apple’s AirPods for that precious space in your ears. The buds incorporate Huawei’s homegrown Kirin A1 chip, which is supposed to ensure improved connectivity and stability, as well as ultra-low latency. Huawei also promises active noise cancellation, despite the open-fit design of the FreeBuds. Price TBA.
- Huawei talks Mate X: With the Samsung Galaxy Fold almost here, it’s not surprising that Huawei brought up the Mate X. While nothing was firmly stated, Huawei said it had originally planned to release the phone in August but wanted to make sure it was truly ready for prime time (we also have a feeling the whole ban business played a role in any delayed plans). As for when it might actually arrive? Huawei says it could happen as soon as next month but didn’t commit to any particular date. It also said that they may end up launching an upgraded Kirin 990 model a bit later.
Samsung is focused on the future: 5G and foldables
At IFA 2019 Samsung’s primary announcements focused on 5G, but it also announced final release details for the previously delayed Samsung Galaxy Fold.
- Samsung Galaxy A90 5G: While Samsung has already released 5G flagships, the A90 5G aims to make 5G flagships more affordable, with a price tag of less than $800. Despite the pricing, it still offers high-end specs like a Snapdragon 855, 6 to 8GB of RAM, and 128GB storage with microSD support. The new 5G flagship will launch in Europe next month, though no word if or when it’ll come to the US.
- Samsung Exynos 980 announced: The new Exynos 980 is a mid-range SoC based on an 8nm FinFET process and features a hexa-core design — two high-performance Cortex-A77 cores and four Cortex-A55 efficiency cores. These are paired with a Mali-G76 MP5 GPU. Even more significant is the integrated 5G modem which will allow Samsung to potentially bring 5G to mid-range devices in the future.
- Samsung Galaxy Fold is almost finally here: At IFA 2019 Samsung confirmed the Galaxy Fold will arrive in South Korea on September 6th and will then hit the US in the “coming weeks”. We also know it will cost $1,980 for the 4G version.
TCL releases its first internationally branded device, alongside several Alcatel devices
TCL traditionally has focused on its Alcatel and Blackberry brands but at IFA 2019 it unveiled a new mid-range device directly under the TCL brand. As expected, Alcatel also had several devices to show off.
- TCL makes its global debut with the Plex:The TCL Plex is the first internationally-available self-branded smartphone from the growing electronics empire. It is clearly a mid-range device with its Snapdragon 675 SoC, but offers a beautiful design and near-bezel free display, as well as extras like a triple cam setup.
- Alcatel 1V and Alcatel 5X: Priced around $87, the Alcatel 1V isn’t going to turn any heads but it’s a decent looking entry device for those wanting something basic, though we’d have preferred to see an Mediatek processor over the Unisoc SC9863A. For those with a bit more to spend, the Alcatel 3X will start around $164 and offers a Helio P23, 4 to 6GB of RAM, and a triple rear camera setup.
- Alcatel Smart Tab 7: The latest tablet from Alcatel features a seven-inch display with 1,024 x 600 resolution, a VGA rear camera, two speakers, the quad-core MediaTek MT8167D processor, 1.5GB of RAM, 16GB of expandable storage, a 2,580mAh battery, and Android 9 Pie. The tablet will be very affordable at around $87.
- Alcatel MoveTime: The TCL Movetime isn’t your typical smartwatch, instead it’s aimed at seniors with extra features like the ability to send SOS messages to preset numbers, as well as fonts and icons that are a bit larger. The watch will be priced around $150.
Sony announces the Xperia 5
During it’s press conference Sony focused nearly all its attention on its latest flagship phone, though it did announce a new pair of Bluetooth headphones (WH-1000XM3) as well. Sony may have a few other announcements outside of the press conference, but that’s all for now.
The Sony Xperia 5 is the company’s latest flagship: The new handset is a little smaller than the Xperia 1 offering a 6.1-inch FHD+ OLED HD display with a a 21:9 aspect ratio. Under the hood, you’ll find the Snapdragon 855, 6GB of RAM, and a 128GB storag with microSD support. The Sony Xperia 5 will arrive to Europe next month (no US plans were announced).
Asus ups its laptop game, also announces a new watch
At IFA 2019 Asus announced its European launch plans for the Asus Rog Phone 2, showed off several new laptops, and even debuted a new smartwatch.
- Asus ROG Phone 2 comes to Europe: The Asus Rog phone 2 has been available in the US for a little while now, but at IFA Asus announced the gaming phone is now available in Europe for €899 (~$990).
- Asus gives us a 300Hz laptop display: The Asus Zephyrus S GX701 is an e-sports player’s dream device with its 300Hz display. While this is the first laptop to feature the technology, Asus plans to bring the high refresh rate to more devices in the future.
- Asus puts a Quadro RTX 6000 in a laptop: Not content with just having the fastest display, Asus introduced the Studio One as “the world’s most graphically powerful laptop”, thanks to its Quadro RTX 6000 GPU. The rest of the specs are equally high end including a 4K UHD Display, an Intel i9 processor, and 32GB of RAM. Asus also announced the StudioBook Pro X, it’s latest Screenpad 2.0 device.
- Asus VivoWatch aims to bring ECG to the masses: Not to be confused with Garmin’s Vivo series, the Asus VivoWatch SP is the latest smartwatch from Asus. The new watch offers cutting edge features like built-in ECG and PPG sensors.
Nokia announces two epic looking mid-rangers
Nokia is here at IFA 2019 bringing consumers two new mid-range devices, as well as announcing three KaiOS-based feature phones
- Nokia debuts two new mid-range phones: The Nokia 6.2 and 7.2 are the latest mid-rangers from HMD Global. The phones are nearly identical, including the same 6.3-inch Full HD+ LCD display. Where they differ is in processor and other internals. The cheaper Nokia 6.2 has a Snapdragon 636, while the Nokia 7.2 has a Snapdragon 660.
Lenovo-owned Moto announces two new handsets
Moto is back with two new phones for IFA 2019, the Moto One Zoom (which oddly doesn’t have Android One software) and the Moto E6 Plus.
- Moto One Zoom brings high-end features to mid-range: Priced at just $449.99, the Moto One Zoom aims to make quad camera setups affordable. Aside from an impressive camera package and uniquely attractive design, the Zoom features mid-range specs including a Snapdragon 675, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. The phone goes on sale September 5 in the US, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and several other Latin American countries. There will also be a version with Alexa built in for the European market.
- Motorola Moto E6 Plus announced: The E6 Plus is basically just a bigger and badder version of the E6 that we saw earlier this year. Core specs include a 6.1-inch HD+ display, a 3000mAh battery, and a MediaTek Helio P22 with 2 or 4GB of RAM. The phone will run stock Android and will cost around 139 euros. There are no plans to bring the E6 Plus to North America at this time.
Lenovo unveils smaller version of its smart display, alongside new computers and tablets
Lenovo was among the first to release a smart display and at IFA it has followed up with a smaller 7-inch model. Aside from this, Lenovo also showed off new tablets and laptops.
- Lenovo Smart Display 7: Essentially this is just a smaller version of the original Smart Display, though Lenovo made a few tweaks such as putting the speaker setup below the display instead of to the side. The Lenovo Smart Display 7 will go on sale sometime in October 2019 for the price of $129.99.
- Lenovo debuts new Android Smart Tab series: The SmartTab series now has two new family members, the Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab and Lenovo Smart Tab M8. The former is more feature-packed at costs $249.99, while the latter is a bit cheaper at $119.99. Both tablets double as smart displays and support Google Assistant’s new Ambient Mode.
- New Yoga and Thinkbook Windows devices: The company introduced several new laptops, along with three new stand-alone monitors. This includes a number of new Yoga 2-in-1 convertible notebooks, new standard laptops, and more. There’s also several monitors. Honestly, there’s a ton, so check out the link!
Google announces a new Google Assistant feature
Google might not be showing off new products (it’s letting partners handle that) but it did announce a cool new Ambient mode feature.
- Ambient mode aims to make lockscreens better: The lock screen on tablets and phones are getting a solid upgrade in the form of Google Assistant’s new ambient mode. Ambient Mode turns on when you plug in or dock your smartphone or tablet. Just like a smart display, it will give you a quick synopsis of your upcoming notifications, the weather, the music you are playing, the time, etc. It will also let you control your smart home appliances.
LG announces its own dual-screen phone
Samsung’s Galaxy Fold is just finally almost here and the Huawei Mate X still doesn’t have a launch date, so that makes getting a foldable device kind of hard. LG wants to give you another option, LG G8X ThinQ. Okay so it’s not really a foldable, it’s a dual-screen phone.
- LG G8X ThinQ is not just another Axon M: At first glance this seems quite similar to 2017’s ZTE Axon M, but it adds a few unique touches that help its design stand apart. Chiefly you can remove the second screen. In fact, the second screen is really more of an accessory (which LG tried with the V50 5G), but LG is pushing it hard and will reportedly have a bundled version as well as an option that doesn’t include the screen. Under the hood this is pretty much your typical 2019 flagship. The phone features IP68 and MIL-STD-810G ratings for protection against drops and the elements, an in-display fingerprint scanner, 1.2W stereo speakers, a revamped version of LG’s Android skin, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of expandable storage, and a 4,000mAh battery.
There’s an army of smartwatches at IFA 2019
It seems like smartwatches are having a moment at IFA. We already talked about Asus announcing the Vivowatch and Alcatel releasing a watch aimed at the elderly, but let’s not forget about Garmin, Michael Kors, Puma, and others.
- Garmin unveils a truckload of watches: Garmin really wants you to get a new GPS watch, as evident by the plethora watches it has announced. Garmin updated its Vivomove line with advanced features like Garmin Pay and connected GPS, while the Garmin Venu, Vivoactive 4 series, and Legacy Hero series share many of the same features and design cues, but all three watches have a little something different for everyone.
- Puma enters in the Wear OS market with its aptly named Puma Watch: Puma is joining the smartwatch came with its own Wear OS device. It’s powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 3100 SoC, and has a built-in GPS, heart rate sensor, and NFC for Google Pay. The watch will be available in November for $275.
- Michal Kors announces three new watches: Michael Kors announced a trio of new Wear OS smartwatches: the Lexington 2, Bradshaw 2, and MKGO. Two of the watches will support the ability to make and receive calls right from the watch, thanks to the built-in speaker.
- Emporio Armani and Diesel join the fray: Even more stylish smartwatches are coming from fashion brands Emporio Armani and Diesel. Like the Michael Kors models, they incorporate a built-in speaker. The new wearables are powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 3100 chip.
- Amazfit GTS and Stratos 3: The GTS is basically an Apple Watch clone, though it still stands as a compelling option thanks to solid features like an optical heart rate sensor, GPS, and 12 different sports modes including running, swimming, skiing, and even mountaineering. The Stratos 3 is the beefier of the two models both inside and out. It also has a 5ATM water resistance rating, along with a 1.34-inch transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) display — the same type of display found on Garmin’s GPS watches.
Everything else announced so far
While the above are probably the biggest announcements so far, there’s plenty of new products launching at IFA. Below is a round-up of some other announcements worth checking out:
- JBL announces new speakers and soundbars: Known for headphones, loudspeakers, and other audio products, JBL today announced a slew of new speakers and soundbars. Chief among the releases are the JBL Pulse 4 and two new JBL Link speakers.
- Philips Hue goes old school: Philips Hue is introducing a Filament Collection that brings the old-school Edison-style light bulb aesthetic while still offering the same color-changing LED technology under the hood. The popular smart light company also unveiled a new version of its portable smart light and it’s first smart plug.
- Amazon is expanding the Fire TV lineup with 15 new devices: Amazon is betting big on Fire TV, dramatically expanding the line. This includes tons of smart TVs via partnerships, and first-party devices like the new Fire TV Cube.
- Light Phone 2 is now out: At IFA 2019 we had the opportunity to take a closer look at the new Light Phone 2, a phone designed for those that want as minimalistic of a mobile experience as possible.
- Acer releases new Chrome and Windows laptops: Acer made a slew of announcements at IFA 2019, including four new Chromebooks: the Acer Chromebook 315, the Chromebook 314, the Chromebook 311, and the Chromebook 311 Spin. Acer had other devices on deck, too, including Predator gaming rigs and Swift consumer-grade Windows machines.
- Razer announces Blade Stealth 13: Ahead of IFA 2019, Razer announced the refreshed Blade Stealth 13. Whereas the previous model was available with the Nvidia GeForce MX150, the new Blade Stealth 13 now features the beefier GTX 1650 with 4GB of GDDR5 VRAM. The updated Blade Stealth 13 will go on sale sometime this month in the U.S. and start at $1,499.99.
- Dell updates its XPS 13: One of the best laptops you can buy gets even better! The refreshed XPS 13 come with the 10th Gen Comet Lake U-series processors and improved WiFi performance. The refreshed series is available now, starting at $999. That said, the top-end model with a hexa-core Core-i7-10710U processor will arrive in October.
- Sharp Aquos R3 finally coming to Europe: Five months after launching in Japan, the Aquos R3 is on its way to Europe. The Sharp Aquos R3 will retail for 729 euros (~$805) when it goes on sale in November.
- Qualcomm is bringing 5G to its mid-range chips: Samsung isn’t the only chipmaker bringing integrated 5G modems to mid-range processors. Qualcomm announced that 5G connectivity will be coming to its 6-, 7-, and 8- series SoCs, starting with the 7-series as soon as the first half of 2020.
- Anker releases a ton of new accessories: While accessory news might not be as exciting as new phones and laptops, Anker had quite a few new goodies to show off. Highlights include the new PowerCore+ battery pack, new headphones (including a true wireless option), and a few extras like a new robotic vacuum, a speaker, and some refreshed cables.