Welcome to our comprehensive guide to the IFA technology trade show, which kicks off in Berlin on 4 September and is where new phones from Samsung, Sony and others will be unveiled for the first time.
Mobile Choice will be in Berlin to bring you all the latest news and our hands-on first impressions of the new smartphones, tablets and wearables expected to be on show - but for now this guide will outline everything we expect to see at the show.
Samsung is holding a media event in Berlin on 3 September, a day before all other IFA press conferences get under way. It is widely expected to announce the Galaxy Note 4, a large-screen Android smartphone with a stylus. Samsung has revealed the last three Notes at its IFA events, so there’s no reason to think it won’t repeat that and unveil the Note 4 at this event too.
The Note 4 is tipped to have a 5.9-inch screen with a QHD resolution of 2560 x 1440 - the same as the LG G3 and double that of much of the competition. We’re also expecting to see a fast quad-core processor, three gigs of RAM, a fingerprint scanner for improved security, and a heart rate monitor for health and fitness tracking with the S Health app. We’re also hoping Samsung will upgrade the S Pen and include some new features.
Alongside the Note 4 we will finally get our hands on the super slim Galaxy Alpha. A smartphone with a 4.7-inch screen and premium metal design, the Galaxy Alpha is Samsung’s answer to the iPhone 6, which is due to be announced in mid-September.
The Galaxy Alpha looks great in the promotional shots we’ve seen so far, but a 720p screen resolution and lack of a microSD card slot for expandable storage mean the handset is something of a mixed bag.
Alongside the Note 4, Samsung is being tipped to reveal a virtual reality headset which uses the phone’s screen to beam a submersive, 3D image right into your eyes and just like the Oculus Rift. Mobile gaming could benefit massively here - even if wearing such a gadget might make us all look ridiculous.
Finally, a new Gear smartwatch is on the cards and this time it will have its own SIM card slot - this means there will be no need to connect to a smartphone via Bluetooth to make and receive calls.
Sony has been churning out new flagships almost quicker than we can write about them. The Xperia Z1 arrived at IFA last year, before the Xperia Z2 showed its face at Mobile World Congress in February, and now the rumour mill suggests a Z3 could break cover at IFA this year, alongside a new Compact version.
We haven’t yet seen a Z2 Compact, but with leaks of the new Z3 and a smaller version, we now wonder if Sony will skip ahead and go right for the Compact Z3, or a different name entirely. So far little looks to have changed with the Z3 over the Z2. Sony is sticking with the same ‘Omnibalance’ design as before and all specs look very similar to the Z2 - from the screen and resolution, to its processor, storage and 20.7-megapixel camera. We just hope Sony has fixed the Z2’s overheating issues when shooting 4K video and using the camera on a hot day.
What’s more interesting is talk of a Z3 Compact. Despite gaining huge praise from the technology press and consumers alike, Sony hasn’t yet revealed a successor to the Z1 Compact - but now a Z3 Compact could be on the horizon.
The most recent leaks suggest the Z3 Compact will have a 4.6-inch display with a full-HD resolution of 1920 x 1080; that would make it almost exactly the same size as the rumoured iPhone 6, due in September. Inside there’s thought to be a quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor, 3GB of RAM and the same 20.7-megapixel camera as the Z1 Compact (and new Z3). All in all, this looks like it could be a hell of a phone.
Finally, a third generation of its SmartWatch wearable could arrive at IFA - and the big questions here will be: will it have a round or square face, and will it run Google’s Android Wear, or Sony’s own operating system? We’ll find out on 3 September.
At IFA we expect to get our hands on the LG G3 Beat, a smaller version of the flagship, and also the G3 Stylus, which was outed by an advert for the Beat at the end of August. Spotted at the end of the advert - and made official this week - the G3 Stylus has the same 5.5-inch screen size as the G3, but its resolution is significantly lower. Add this to a less powerful processor, less RAM and less storage, and we don’t expect to see it take on the Galaxy Note 4 for the title of best phablet.
LG is also expected to pull the covers off a new version of the G Watch smartwatch - and this time it’ll have a round screen, just like the hugely anticipated Motorola Moto 360. We first heard LG would offer both round and square smartwatches back in March, so it’s no surprise to learn of the second model’s imminent arrival.
Motorola is, bizarrely, holding a media event in Chicago and London on 4 September where it is widely expected to announce new versions of the Moto G and Moto X, as well as provide more details (maybe even a price and release date) on the Moto 360 smartwatch.
The company will also be showing off new products at IFA itself, and has invited journalists to briefings in Berlin to discuss the new handsets.
An update to the Moto X, dubbed the X+1 is expected to have a 5.2-inch full-HD display, quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM and a 12-megapixel camera, if the rumour mill is to be believed. The customisable design of the first Moto X might finally make its European debut, having been a US exclusive since launch - but we won’t hold our breath until we see it, as Motorola’s future looks a little less certain since it parted ways with Google.
Arguably more exciting is the prospect of finally seeing the Moto 360 smartwatch, with its round screen and Android Wear operating system. We’ll hopefully get our hands on it, as Mobile Choice will be attending Motorola’s London event, as well as attending IFA.
Having now taking over Nokia’s phone-making business and assumed full control of the Lumia smartphone range, Microsoft will use iFA to announce a new high-end flagship phone to replace the Lumia 1020. At least that’s what we’re inclined to believe, having been invited to look at a new Lumia handset at IFA.
The invitation shows the round black camera of the Lumia 1020, so a replacement to that 41-megapixel behemoth could well be on the cards. We’ll find out on 4 September.
Asus will be announcing a smartwatch at IFA on 3 September - so much is apparent, thanks to a teaser image posted by the company’s Twitter account and showing three sketches of a smartwatch. The screen is square but with edges which are more rounded than on the LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live - but otherwise details are pretty sparse.
Finally, Huawei has published a teaser image of its own, but unlike the fairly obvious content in Asus’, this one has us scratching our heads.
We can safely say (geddit?) that the first image is to do with security; the second looks like a car gear stick, although we imagine the numbers going up to eight means Huawei has an octa-core phone in the works; 83/100 could suggest a phone with a screen taking up 83% of its body (and thus have tiny bezels). Meanwhile, the final images is of some cats...there are six of them so maybe this refers to the CAT 6 4G technology?
We’ll find out next week...