IFA 2014: all the latest news
IFA 2014 is under way and we’re already into the second day. We’ve got six team members on the ground in Berlin to bring you the latest news as well as hands ons with all the hottest new gear.
IFA is, of course, the spiritual home of the Samsung Galaxy Note, traditionally sees the launch of awesome new TVs and AV gear from the biggest brands and has been the birthplace of more best-selling mobile devices than a pair of conjoined octopus twins could shake sticks at.
The first day saw the launch of two new Galaxy Note smartphones from Samsung and a trio of new Sony Xperia Z3 Android devices as well as other products from Toshiba, Acer and Asus.
While today it’s the turn of LG, HTC, Nokia and Philips among others to hog the limelight. So keep checking back for all the latest gadgets from Berlin – you’ll see them here first!
Acer at IFA 2014:
Acer Liquid Z500
Acer has announced a low cost smartphone at IFA 2014, with the Liquid Z500 very much focused on the music-loving youth market. Boasting what Acer is calling "CD quality" audio and "powerful and advanced" front facing speakers – which do, in fairness, bring DTS Studio Sound.
Acer Aspire R 13 and R 14
Acer has used the IFA 2014 expo in Berlin to unveil a pair of convertible Windows 8.1 laptops toting more positions than a Yoga manual. First up, the Aspire Aspire R 13 features a 13.3-inch, Gorilla Glass 3-equipped display that rests on what Acer calls an Ezel Aero Hinge, which allows it to rotate 180 degrees and into six different positions.
Acer Iconia Tab 8 W
Acer has added a new Windows 8.1 tablet to its line-up, the Iconia Tab 8 W, which complements rather than replaces the Iconia W4. The device has surfaced at IFA 2014 and, like many of its competitors, uses Intel’s Reference platform. It comes with familiar components: a quad-core Intel Atom BayTrail-based Z3735G processor clocked at 1.33GHz, an 8-inch IPS display with a 1,280 x 800 pixel resolution, two speakers, microSD, microHDMI and microUSB ports plus a 9.75mm profile and weight of 370g.
Read: Acer Iconia Tab 8W
Amazon at IFA 2014:
Amazon Fire TV
Amazon’s streaming box launched in the US earlier this year, and Amazon has doubled down to get the device outside of America. At IFA 2014, Amazon VP of Product Marketing Peter Larson announced that the device is available to buy in the UK and Germany from today, with shipping to begin next month. In the UK, Fire TV will support a range of services including Netflix, YouTube, Demand 5, Sky News, Twitch, Spotify and a bunch more, though BBC iPlayer and Now TV are MIA right now. Of course, Amazon Instant Video and Amazon Prime Instant Video are also on board.
Asus at IFA 2014:
Asus has announced the ZenWatch, with its Android Wear offering boasting a stitched leather strap and 2.5D curved glass. The smartwatch arena is becoming increasingly competitive, but Asus is hoping that its design cues can make it a popular option. The watch will support the Asus ZenUI Wellness app with its 9-axis sensor and pair with any Android phone from 4.3 up.
Asus EeeBook X205
Asus has unveiled a new ultra affordable laptop, the EeeBook X205, at IFA 2014, resurrecting the once popular Eee brand that was synonymous with the netbook era. Available in Europe later this year for €199 (about £165, $260, AU$280), it promises to solve some of the issues that ultimately led to the doom of the netbook.
Hands on: Asus EeeBook X205 review
The slimmest ever Ultrabook
Asus has unveiled the Zenbook UX305 at IFA 2014, which it claims is the "world’s slimmest 13.3-inch QHD+ laptop", measuring a svelte 12.3mm at its thickest point. That’s a whisker (or two) thinner than Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Air (17mm), before you ask. It features a similar tapered wedge design to previous Zenbook models, and Asus hasn’t held back on the bling, fitting it with "diamond-cut metallic highlights". It weighs 1.2kg and houses Intel’s new Core M processor with a 128GB or 256GB SSD for storage.
Read: Asus ZenBook UX305
HTC at IFA 2014:
HTC Desire 820
After striking a nice mid-range note with the Desire 816, HTC is back with a follow-up, the Desire 820. Announced here at IFA, there’s some carry over from the Desire 816, including the 5.5-inch screen and plastic body, but the Desire 820 features a little flare of its own. Immediately noticeable is the color scheme. Instead of a solo color all the way around, the 820 sports a two-toned motif comprised of a main base and a trim around the camera, buttons and flash. Also stepping up its game is the front-facing camera. Whereas the Desire 816 had a 5MP front sensor, the 820 jumps up to 8MP snapper. It should deliver high-quality selfies, if that’s your thing.
Lenovo at IFA 2014:
Lenovo Y70 Touch and Erazer X315
Joining in on the PC gaming craze that grows more mainstream every day, Lenovo announced two new devices that are ready to push pixels. Following in the footsteps of the company’s seemingly successful "Y" line of gaming laptops is its first 17-inch gaming laptop, the Lenovo Y70 Touch.
Nokia at IFA 2014:
Nokia Lumia 830
Microsoft has just announced the Lumia 830 in Berlin, which puts a 10MP PureView camera onto a phone that Microsoft is calling "the first affordable flagship". And it’s no surprise that Microsoft has dedicated a large part of its press conference to that snapper, making direct swipes at Apple’s and Samsung’s own phone camera offerings.
Nokia Lumia 730
Microsoft is another one guilty of encouraging the selfie trend, having just announced the Lumia 735 and 730 Dual-SIM which puts all its focus on the front-facing camera. Speaking at IFA 2014, Chris Weber, CVP, Mobile Devices Sales at Microsoft, made a point of the poor quality of Ellen DeGeneres’s famous Oscar selfie – apparently the world deserves better. The Lumia 730 and 735 put a 5MP camera on the front with a 24mm focal length, and come with a Lumia Selfie app, which does everything you’d expect. It’ll also be available to download to other Lumia devices.
Panasonic at IFA 2014:
Panasonic X492 4K TV
Panasonic has unveiled its latest high end television, with the 85-inch X492 series boasting 4K resolution and all of the features the Japanese giant can throw at it. With 4K beginning to edge its way into the public consciousness, the UHD screens are out in force at IFA, and Panasonic is keen to show it has lost none of its quality in the television world. The Viera 4K UHD model has the requisite 3,840 x 2,160 resolution as well as Panasonic’s 200Hz Back Light Scanning and 4K intelligent frame creation tech to make things sharp and smooth.
Panasonic AX902 4K TV
Panasonic has also unveiled its AX902 4K Ultra HD LED LCD TV, with this particular offering ready to adjust itself to suit your living room. An interesting feature is the television’s ability to analyse the lighting conditions in its environment and link its video signal processing to ambient light levels in order to, in Panasonic’s words: ‘deliver picture quality which is a perfect match for your living room’.
Philips at IFA 2014:
Philips Curved 4K TVs
Philips has just unleashed a trio of 4K televisions at IFA 2014, with its first ever curved TV taking the headline slot. The Philips 8900 comes in at 55 inches and features a 3-sided Ambilight design for moody viewing, with the promise of the upmost sharpness and 3D support. Meanwhile the TV’s LED backlight will adjust to the ambient room light to make sure you’ve always got a vibrant view. And as it’s powered by Android (4.2.2 Jelly Bean), you’ll have access to plenty of apps on the Google Play Store, while 4 HDMI ports should mean wire-switching is kept to a minimum. Philips tells us this one will be available in Europe in Q3, so it shouldn’t be too long to wait.
Hands on: Philips 55PUS8909C Curved 4k TV review
Philips Spotify Connect speakers
Philips has launched two new wireless speakers to let you start a multi-room audio set for under £100, significantly undercutting the entry-level Sonos price of the £170 Sonos Play:1. The price of multi-room audio continues to tumble. The Philips SW700M and SW750M are two lounge-friendly wireless speakers that cost 99 Euro and 149 Euro respectively, offering some of the cheapest ways to ditch the cables in your audio setup.
Philips Fidelio NC1
Watch out Bose, the Philips Fidelio NC1 have just been announced and offer active noise cancellation with the pedigree of one of the most lauded new headphones series of the last decade. Two and a half years ago, Philips launched the first Fidelio headphones, the Fidelio L1, intended as cans with no-compromise sound quality. At IFA 2014, Philips unveiled the first ANC pair in the Fidelio range.
Philips Fidelio B5 soundbar
Last year, Philips revealed the Fidelio E5, a system designed to make surround sound in the living room more affordable and less complex. At IFA 2014, Philips is continuing its trend of ‘Surround on demand’ with an update to its soundbar, transforming it into the Fidelio B5. As before, the B5 is made unique by its two wireless detachable speakers, which you can place behind you for the surround sound experience. But now the soundbar and its two speakers can also be used as independent Bluetooth speakers as well.
Samsung at IFA 2014:
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Samsung has just launched the much-anticipated Galaxy Note 4, and while it might not attract as many initial "oohs" and "aahs" as the Galaxy Note Edge, this is another solid effort from the South Korean company with plenty to get excited about. Leaving the big design alterations to its edgey sibling, the Note 4 arrives with the same 5.7-inch screen that was attached to the Note 3. But Samsung has boosted the viewing quality with a Quad HD Super AMOLED (2,560 x 1,440 resolution) display, which will adapt to different lighting conditions. And it’s just as well, because the camera has also jumped up from 13MP to 16MP and now lets in 60% more light for improved images, so you should have some decent snaps to make use of that rich display.
Hands on: Samsung Galaxy Note 4 review
Samsung Galaxy Note Edge
Samsung has announced an impressively unique smartphone at IFA 2014, the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge, which takes advantage of the Korean company’s impressive bendable OLED technology. Taking the same 5.7-inch display found on the Samsung Galaxy Note, the new Galaxy Note Edge drapes one inch of the screen over the left-hand side of the handset. Not only does this give the Galaxy Note Edge a strikingly attractive look, but Samsung is promising that the side part of the screen could have game-changing implications for how we interact with our smartphones.
Hands on: Samsung Galaxy Note Edge review
Samsung Gear S
There’s no doubting Samsung’s intent to conquer the wearable market. In a very short time, the manufacturer has released more smartwatches than can safely fit on one wrist. This scattershot approach to the market is no bad thing. It seems that Samsung is using its throwing its R&D weight around, testing all shapes and sizes to see which fit best with the general public. And that is where the Samsung Gear S comes in. The Samsung Gear S is Samsung’s effort at making a smartwatch that isn’t a companion device to your mobile phone but one that stands alone.
Hands on: Samsung Gear S review
Samsung Gear VR
The Samsung Gear VR has been officially announced, and as expected it’s a virtual reality headset accessory that uses the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 as its display. As one of this year’s more out-there announcements, the Gear VR is a virtual reality headset onto which you attach your phone. The Samsung Gear VR is designed for use with the Galaxy Note 4. The phone clips onto the front of the Gear VR headset, providing the display that would otherwise add substantially to the cost of the thing.
Hands on: Samsung Gear VR review
Sony at IFA 2014
Sony Xperia Z3
The Sony Xperia Z3 has been officially unveiled at IFA 2014, and it sees the Japanese firm launch its fourth flagship smartphone in less than two years. Eyebrows were raised when Sony announced the Xperia Z1 in the same year as the Xperia Z, and then quickly followed it with the Xperia Z2 five months later, but it remains determined to hit the two key product cycles in a year. The Sony Xperia Z3 is more iteration than innovation, with Sony fine tuning the Z2 from earlier this year to create a leaner, meaner handset. Sony’s Omnibalance design persists on the Xperia Z3, but it’s been slimmed down and rounded to a rather attractive 7.3mm (Xperia Z2 is 8.2mm) frame. The Xperia Z3 isn’t quite as wide or tall as its predecessor either, with the handset measuring 146 x 72mm. It still sports a 5.2-inch full HD display which means it’s the bezels that have been reduced in size.
Hands on: Sony Xperia Z3 review
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
The Sony Xperia Z3 Compact is the natural successor to the impressive Xperia Z1 Compact, which managed to squeeze flagship specs into a smaller frame. And there’s good news, as Sony has repeated the trick with the Xperia Z3 Compact. Launching alongside the headlining Sony Xperia Z3 at IFA 2014, there’s no question which handset the Z3 Compact is inheriting a lot of its values from. You’ll find the same 2.5GHz quad-core processor, Adreno 330 GPU and new wide angled 20.7MP camera inside the Compact as the Xperia Z3. There always has to be some compromises and the main one here is the display which has been reduced from a 5.2-inch full HD offering to a more manageable 4.6-inch 720p screen on the Xperia Z3 Compact.
Hands on: Sony Xperia Z3 Compact review
Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
If the Xperia Z2 Tablet is proving a bit too sizeable for those hands, Sony’s just delivered a solution to that problem in the form of the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact. Sony’s sized-down slate is out to strike at the iPad mini, rocking an 8-inch full HD display and weighing a respectable 270 grams. In that small frame you’ll find a 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor, 3GB of RAM, LTE support, Android 4.4 KitKat, and up to 16GB of internal memory with an option to boost it to 128GB via microSD. On the back is an 8.1 MP camera if tablet photography is your thing, offering video recording at 1080p. Meanwhile you’ll have a 2.2 MP snapper on the front, which also gives 1080p for video chat.
Hands on: Sony Xperia Tablet Compact review
Toshiba at IFA 2014:
Toshiba Chromebook 2
The 13-inch Chrome OS laptop scores an all-new design that’s sharper, thinner, lighter and more angular than the original Toshiba Chromebook. Better yet, the new Chromebook 2 comes with an FHD option – that is, a 13.3-inch 1,920 x 1,080 IPS panel – for $329 (about £199, AU$354). (Yes, there is still a 1,366 x 768 model for $249, or around £151/AU$268.) And this time around, Toshiba roped in audio partner Skullcandy to specially tune this Chromebook’s speakers for deeper bass and more precision vocals.
Toshiba Encore Mini tablet
As part of its big IFA 2014 reveal, Toshiba has announced a little Windows 8.1 tablet, the low-cost Toshiba Encore Mini. While there’s currently no price information available, we bet – or hope – that the Toshiba Encore Mini is heading for a bargain-price future. It’s a 7-inch Windows tablet with a rather low-res 1,024 x 600 pixel display. That’s lower in resolution than most of the Android tablets you can get for £100-120 today, such as the Asus MeMO Pad HD 7. Aside from a low-end screen, the Toshiba Encore Mini offers an Intel Atom Z3745 SoC processor and 1GB RAM. That’s the same processor used by the Acer Iconia Tab 8.
Toshiba U Series 4K TV
Toshiba is showing off its next generation Ultra HD 4K TV at IFA 2014, with the U series aiming to convince us that it’s time to upgrade from our tired old Full HD television. Although Tosh is at pains to point out this is only a prototype, the company will launch the U series in 2015.
Toshiba Satellite Radius 11
Toshiba has announced two new 11.6-inch Satellite devices, the convertible Radius 11 and the CL10-B, both pitched at the more cost friendly end of the market. The Radius 11 can be shifted into multiple form factors including laptop mode (duh) tablet mode, audience mode, presentation mode and tabletop mode.We reckon you’ll use at least two of those, but the option is always nice.
IFA 2014: what we’re expecting to see
Every September, the luminaries of the tech world (minus Apple) gather in an exhibition hall in Berlin to launch their must-have products. IFA 2013 saw hundreds of companies launching what seemed like a million new laptops, but what does it have in store for us this year?
This feature will be constantly updated so check back to see if your favourite gadget rumour will become a reality Berlin this September.
Galaxy Note 4: return of the Phantom Phablet
The previous Notes have been launched at past editions of IFA, and Samsung has all but revealed to the press that the Note 4 will arrive at IFA. An invite came to TechRadar and other outlets stating: ‘Ready? Note the date!’ Not the most subtle of hints.
What’s slightly less certain is what the Note 4 will offer over the Note 3. Screen size is one of the important questions: the original Note launched with a 5.3-inch screen, and the Note 2 and 3 have rocked 5.5 inches and 5.7 inches respectively.
Although it’s entirely possible that the Note 4 will continue this trend and push things up to 5.9 inches and beyond (after all, Sony’s Xperia Z Ultra is a whopping 6.4 inches), but rumours like a leaked Antutu benchmark point to a 5.7-inch 2,560 x 1,440 display.
It’s also a safe bet to assume that the Note 4 will see an improved processor – probably following Samsung’s tradition of an Exynos-powered 8-core behemoth for the European market, and a Qualcomm Snapdragon (most likely the 805) for North America. RAM and graphics will probably get upgrades as well, to keep a more pixel-dense display humming along.
Word has also been spreading of a curved display – not curved like the slightly bonkers Galaxy Round, but tapering off towards the edges to make the bezel disappear. This is off the back of a patent filed by Samsung last year, but it makes sense, given Samsung’s history with curved phones and curved TVs, and its willingness to burn R&D money hand-over-fist to make the next big breakthrough.
Software-wise, you can expect the Note 4 to launch with a version of Android 4.4, with Samsung’s custom TouchWiz UI running on top. Even though the new version of Google’s operating system, Android L, will launch around the same time, it’s doubtful Samsung will be able to get the OS up and running in time for an early-September launch.
Another phone that may feature from Samsung is the Galaxy Mega 2. If it arrives this will essentially be a big handset with middling specs. The screen could be as large as 6 inches (if rumours are anything to go by) and while it will be an upgrade to the Mega, it won’t pack the premium specs of the Note 4.
Sony Completes the Trilogy
Another big smartphone we can look forward to with sweaty gadget-paws is the coming of the Sony Xperia Z3, the rumoured follow-up to the Z1 and Z2. Early leaks point to small spec bumps being the order of the day here, with an upgrade to a Snapdragon Qualcomm 801 processor, 1080p display (good news, since the display has historically been one of the failings of the Z line) and an upgrade to Android 4.4.
Design-wise, you can expect the Z3 to retain the Omnibalance design (which basically boils down to lots of right angles) of its predecessor, along with the waterproofing that’s proving increasingly common on flagship smartphones.
Launching alongside the Z3 will supposedly be its 4.5-inch sidekick, the Z3 Compact. Sony impressed with the Z1 Compact, a premium Android phone with a relatively small screen, and it looks like the same winning formula might be applied to the Z3 Compact, with whisperings of a 2.5GHz processor, 2GB of RAM and a 20-megapixel camera. If that turns out to be the case, small-handed Android lovers could be in luck.
Tablet-wise, IFA hasn’t always been the most exciting show. New (or upgraded) models from the usual suspects – Samsung, Asus, HP and Archos – will most likely be on display, but there won’t be anything quite as exciting as a new iPad.
Let them eat smartwatches
Wearables, on the other hand, are normally a Really Big Thing at IFA. Samsung debuted the Galaxy Gear, its somewhat-maligned debut smartwatch album, at IFA 2013, and fitness trackers and smartwatches will almost certainly be everywhere at this year’s show.
Samsung, LG and Motorola have already announced their Android Wear smartwatches, but there’s a chance that we’ll see watch launches from Sony, HTC, or any of the hundreds of keen startups that want a piece of the wrist action.
There’s also a good chance that we’ll see a new Tizen-powered smartwatch from Samsung. Although the South Korean giant has made a good stab at an Android Wear-powered smartwatch in the Gear Live, Samsung’s never been one for hedging its bets, so there’s a chance we’ll see an updated Galaxy Gear smartwatch (or three) at IFA.
The latest rumours suggest that we may well see a circular Samsung Gear smartwatch in Berlin, alongside the SIM-packing Gear Solo.
Another company that has heavily hinted that we will see a smartwatch on its stalls is Asus. An invite to TechRadar under the heading: ‘Time has transformed and we have changed’ pretty much guarantees we will be seeing some Android Wear from the company soon.
Then there’s Microsoft. While we haven’t had any hints that there is a smartwatch launching at IFA 2014, it will be launching a smartphone – the sequel to the Nokia Lumia 1020, possibly the Nokia Lumia 1030.
Don’t forget the laptops
It’s easy to forget when everyone’s harping on about tablets, wearables and the death of the PC, but laptops are still big business. Asus has traditionally used IFA to launch a handful of new Ultrabooks.
It’s been on the innovation warpath recently, launching a Windows laptop with a 4K display in June, and it has a long tradition of slightly wacky products like the Transformer Pad laptop-tablet hybrid, so expect to see something unusual alongside Ultrabook upgrades in September.
Lenovo also has a history of debuting new hybrid laptop/tablets at IFA, with the review-topping Yoga 2 being unveiled last year. Given the success, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a Yoga 3 finding its way into Berlin.
Where IFA 2013 was the year of the 4K TV, you can expect this year’s TV gimmick to be curved screens. Samsung, LG and Sony have had prototype and high-end curved TVs or show for a good year now so it’s a fair bet that IFA will see those technologies tricking down to lower-end sets, or into the ranges of slightly less premium TV brands.
There’s also a chance that Panasonic – which has been resolutely ignoring the OLED and curved TV trends – will finally debut a curved model. It’s worth remembering, however, that big TV innovations and launches traditionally happen at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, in January, so you might have to wait until then if you want more eyeball-bending electronics.
- Apple won’t be at IFA, but you can still read our predictions for its future