The IFA consumer electronics trade show in Berlin is always a wonderful display of what technology can do for you today. From smartphones and gigantic TVs to air purifiers and intelligent stoves, IFA has it all — and it always pains me that I just don’t have time to examine every nook and cranny of its labyrinthine halls.
This year was a bit unusual, with Samsung re-launching an improved version of its first-ever foldable phone, Huawei keeping mum on the subject of phones, and iPhone fever threatening to take over all the buzz (IFA is typically removed from Apple’s iPhone event by at least a week or two; in 2019, Apple will show its new phones a day after IFA closes).
Still, there was enough interesting tech here to make me forget iPhones are coming. Here’s an overview of some of the coolest gadgets I’ve seen.
(New and improved) Samsung Galaxy Fold
It’s not exactly new — the phone was originally scheduled to be launched in April — but the Galaxy Fold has been thoroughly updated to make it less prone to, well, breaking. IFA was the first time Samsung actually let a wider audience touch and play with the device, and we also got a launch date — Sept. 18 in Europe, and “coming weeks” in the U.S.
It’s too early to say whether the Fold will usher a new smartphone era or remain a niche product. But despite all the uncertainty and the extremely high price tag of $1,980, it’s still one of the most desirable gadgets of the year.
LG G8X ThinQ
LG’s smartphone division has been struggling since forever, but over the years, I’ve found LG’s smartphones to be great, with only one major flaw — weak battery life. And though it will require testing the company’s new flagship, the LG G8X ThinQ, might finally fare better in that department, as it comes with a 4,000mAh battery. The rest of the specs are in line with today’s flagships, too.
As for the phone’s clunky, secondary screen, I’m not convinced I’ll ever need or use it. But at least it’s detachable, and if the price for the package is right, I’m not going to complain (too much).
Motorola One Zoom
The third phone on this list is Motorola’s stylish mid-ranger with a powerful, quad rear camera array, the Motorola One Zoom. Yes, its specs aren’t top notch, but the $450 price is right, and I really dig what Motorola has done with the design.
LG OLED 8K
LG’s 88-inch, 8K OLED isn’t new: It was announced way back in January, during CES 2019. But now you can finally buy it (for $42,000, if you must ask), and LG brought it to IFA to refresh our memory of just how good it is. And it is great: Amazingly crispy image, stunning dynamic range and a barely-there bezel. True, there’s still not enough 8K content to justify buying it, but it is, right now, one of the best TVs in existence.
Huawei FreeBuds 3
Huawei’s FreeBuds 3 are an obviously knock-off of Apple’s AirPods, down to the connectivity-enhancing chip they have, the Kirin A1. But in typical Huawei style, the company has added a ton of tech to these, including active noise cancellation, making them (theoretically) more advanced than most competitors, including the AirPods.
Garmin was busy at this year’s IFA. Just days before the show, the company announced a new series of its flagship sports watches, the Garmin Fenix 6. And at the show, the company launched a new line of devices called the Venu. These are also sports watches, but they do lean on the lifestyle side. Highlights include an AMOLED display — a first for Garmin — and a 5-day battery life.
Sony’s 40th Anniversary Walkman
OK, Sony’s new NW-A100TPS Walkman, launched to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the original Walkman, is a bit of a gimmick: The cassette tape is fake, a mere video on the device’s 3.6-inch display. But you didn’t really expect Sony to launch a cassette player anyways, did you? Instead, it’s your standard digital audio player with a 26 hour battery, 16GB of storage and wireless music streaming support. It’s not exactly cheap at 440 euros ($490), but I guess that’s the price of being retro-cool.
What, you didn’t know that Adidas made headphones? Well, technically, it’s another company called Zound, known for its collaborations with brands like Marshall, that makes them. But these workout-friendly cans are a surprisingly refreshing mix of cool design (the knitted ear cups and the rubber part of the headband can be removed and washed) and decent sound. At $169, the price isn’t too high, either.