(Pocket-lint) - IFA Berlin is one of the most significant spots on the calendar for product launches and it had a big change in 2020, shifting to an invite-only event on a smaller scale, backed with a strong virtual presence for many who tuned in.
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 big brands like Samsung, LG, Sony and Philips often showcase the latest consumer devices and appliances.
The show started in 1924 as a radio convention. Unlike many such shows, IFA is open to the public, meaning anyone can go and marvel at the latest and greatest technology. In 2021, it's expected that there will be a full return to the halls of Messe Berlin.
When will IFA 2021 take place?
- 3-7 September 2021
IFA has confirmed that the event will be held between 3-7 September 2021, seeing it return to Messe Berlin. Currently, it's planned to be a full real-world event, with the organisers saying in April 2021 that some parts of the exhibition were already at 80 per cent reserved.
It's expected that the press days will be held in the few days running up to these, so watch out for many announcements on 1-2 September 2021.
How will IFA 2021 be held?
The organisers have outlined plans to host a complete event. It will keep the focus on safety which was in place for the reduced version of IFA held in 2020:
"As always, keeping our visitors and exhibitors safe is our top priority. The global vaccination effort is gaining huge momentum, while tough lockdowns are finally beginning to pay off - which gives us confidence that we can invite the world to come to Berlin in September for IFA 2021," said Jens Heithecker, IFA executive director and executive vice president of Messe Berlin.
That will see the organisers in constant contact with public health officials, but there's no word on whether visitor numbers will limited or if any health certification will be required.
The show will have all the regular elements, but will also be introducing new showcases: Tech Up for Women will be by women for women in tech. Berlin Photo Week will put exhibition grounds around Berlin to support IFA.
The important launches of IFA 2020 (official and unofficial)
Here's what happened in 2020 - and it's likely we'll see similar brands launching at IFA 2021, or around the same timeframe.
Acer responded to the Intel news by announcing updated models on the new 11-gen Intel Core hardware. Those include the Swift 5 and Swift 3 laptops, both thin and light laptops promising you power on the move.
Asus announced the Zenfone 7 on 26 August, expanding its smartphone offering. On the laptop front, Asus was quick to move with the ZenBook, updating models for the latest 11-gen Intel Core hardware. There's the ZenBook Flip S, ZenBook S and ZenBook 14, ZenBook Flip 13 as well as other models all refreshed.
Garmin announced Catalyst, which is designed as a tracking and coaching device for race car drivers. Yes, it's a little niche, but it's very clever, providing loads of data to not only track performance, but to provide feedback to improve the driver's performance. It sticks inside your windscreen like a satnav device, but instead gives you racing data to help you get the most out of your day at the track.
Honor at IFA 2020
Honor announced a range of devices at IFA 2020. That included the Honor MagicBook Pro, a new 16-inch laptop. On the wearable front, the company launched the Honor Magic Watch GS Pro a new rugged outdoor sportwatch, as well as the cheaper Magic Watch ES, aimed at the fashion fitness market.
JBL and Harmon announced a wide range of devices, with JBL's portable speakers getting an update including USB-C charging, and a refresh across a range of headphones, including true wireless. On the Harman front, the Citation 200, a premium portable smart speaker will be available in October.
Intel has announced 11-gen Core processors for the next generation of devices. The new Tiger Lake hardware has already seen a number of announcements from partners like Acer and Asus, although the hardware is an evolution of the 10-gen and still sits on 10nm hardware. It promises better graphics performance from the Iris Xe GPU, while also supporting Thunderbolt 4, Wi-Fi 6 and PCIe 4. On top of that, the company revealed a new logo, while also introducing the Evo badge, which will be applied to those devices to ensure a particular level of hardware.
Lenovo went early on IFA week, announcing a wide range of devices on 31 August. Those include the Smart Clock Essential, which is a simplified version of the 2019 Smart Clock, here removing the touchscreen so you just get to talk to it and enjoy the clock face. It still supports Google Assistant, however, so will still do a number of voice tasks for you. Lenovo's Tab P11 Pro goes after the premium tablet market (pictured) with a high-resolution OLED display, Snapdragon 730G and 15 hours of life in its premium frame.
On the laptop front the new Legion Slim 7i aims to be the thinnest laptop with Nvidia RTX Max Q graphics. There's oodles of cooling to try and keep things under control once you start pushing it and option for a 4K 60Hz display or a 144Hz 1080p display. It's not cheap though, starting from €1399.
LG at IFA 2020
LG opened up a virtual IFA tour that you can enjoy. Amusingly, it's designed within the halls that IFA normally uses. We wonder if this was originally a planning design for the exhibition that never happened? LG has made a couple of announcements, including the very timely Puricare face mask, a new Cinebeam projector, the WashTower combined washer and dryer and a new InstaView refridgerator with a display in the front. It also has a UVnano system to destory bacteria. LG has also confirmed that its 2020 8K OLED TVs will support Nvidia's new 8K-capable RTX 30 GPUs.
Neato Robotics at IFA 2020
Neato announced the D8, D9 and D10 robot vacuum cleaners, featuring a HEPA filter and LiDAR guidance system.
Perhaps not strictly an IFA launch, but the announcement of Nvidia's new RTX 30 GPU has caused ripples amongst gamers. The new GPU will support 8K gaming at 60fps. A slew of PC manufacturers and hardware partners have announced new models off the back of the launch.
Panasonic has announced the Lumix S5, its latest full-frame 4K camera. The new camera addresses some of the criticisms of the Lumix S1, in that it's smaller, lighter and more affordable - which is a win in all segments. It's likely to be popular because of its advanced video shooting credentials. It's going to cost £1,799 (body only) and will be available from September.
Hue has expanded a number of bulb ranges, but the most interesting announcement is the new Hue Play gradient lightstrip. This is designed so that you can give your TV the Ambilight DIY treatment, connecting to the Sync Box so that the lightstrip will know what's showing on your TV. It will come in different sizes for different TVs and cost from £159/€179
Philips TV/TP Vision
Philips has announced a huge range of new products across TV and audio. There are new Fidelio L3 headphones promising ANC and 35 hours of music playback leading the charge while there's also true wireless headphones and other updates too. Philips has also added its Ambilight system to a range of speakers to meaning you can have colour syncing with your TV and spread it around the room. That also extends to the B95 and B97 soundbars which also offer Dolby Atmos. Philips has also added the OLED+935 to its offering, a new premium TV with Bowers & Wilkins speakers. Sizes start from 48-inches with a price of £1800. It will be available from September.
Qualcomm at IFA 2020
Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon was the speaker at the opening keynote for IFA 2020. We've already seen the announcement of the Snapdragon 732G, an uprated mid-range 4G platform, but there have been wider announcements. They include the promise of Snapdragon 400 devices that offer 5G, Qualcomm's new active noise-cancelling headphone hardware and Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2, which will power the next generation of 5G laptops, running on Qualcomm hardware rather than Intel.
Realme at IFA 2020
Realme attended IFA for the first time to push the brand's significance in Europe. It used the event to introduce a wide range of products it offers, while announcing a new smartphone at a separate event in India - the Realme 7 and 7 Pro.
Samsung cancelled its IFA appearance and instead hosted its own event called Life Unstoppable. Having already confirmed the details on the Galaxy Z Fold 2, the Samsung event introduced the new Galaxy A42 5G, a budget 5G phone, along with the Tab A7, a more affordable tablet. The Galaxy Fit 2 updates the company's fitness tracker along with the wireless charging pad called Trio, which will charge three devices at the same time. That's in addition to a range of updated appliances, and a new Q700T TV, which brings 8K QLED in at a cheaper price - some £1999.