In recent years, the IFA technology show has had its share of highs and lows. Some editions of the show have debuted truly incredible tech, and some have been simply underwhelming. The 2020 show, however, will be undoubtedly different than any previous version of the event.
The annual tech show is still scheduled for September 3-5 in Berlin, and will once again showcase a variety of consumer technology products, from smartphones and kitchen appliances, to televisions and audio equipment, to smart home gadgets and wearables But with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the event has shifted to a trade show format. It will be closed to the public and allow only a limited number of attendees to ensure social distancing. It will take place almost entirely onstage, as opposed to the traditional large grouping of booths.
Among the limited information we have is confirmation that Qualcomm President Christiano Amon will be a keynote speaker. The event’s website has a list of major press conferences scheduled for the event, some of which we’ve listed below:
Thursday, September 3
- 2:15 a.m. PT: LG press conference
- 4:15 a.m. PT: TCL in-person conference
- 5:15 a.m. PT: Huawei conference
Friday, September 4
- 1:45 a.m. PT: Hyundai in-person press conference
- 2:25 a.m. PT: Honor in-person press conference
- 6:25 p.m. PT: Ecovacs in-person press conference
In terms of actual products and technology, we’d love to be able to tell you exactly what to look out for ahead of this event. But the truth is, the uncertainty that has plagued the rest of everyday life has extended to our ability to make a forecast for IFA 2020. The only thing we knew for sure is show organizers will try to hold as safe an event as possible; everything else is an unknown variable, primarily because we’re in completely new territory here.
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We do know a few things not to expect, as it turns out. Samsung is skipping the show altogether, LG seems to be focusing on appliances, and both TCL and Vizio have already unveiled big products earlier in the summer. Barring something unforeseen, it’s unlikely that we’ll see any blockbuster moves in the home theater realm.
It’ll be a far cry from years’ past, like when the Philips OLED+ 984 that made waves in 2019, or the Sennheiser Ambeo, Sony WH-1000XM3, and Samsung Q900R broke out onto the scene in 2018. Sony already unveiled the successor to its 1000XM3 headphones this year, the even better WH-1000XM4. So we can’t even look forward to more larger-than-life Sony headphones.
There is an upside to the perceived lack of star power at this year’s show. Without big brands dominating, the door will be wide open for smaller companies and products to steal the spotlight. Maybe some new headphones or earbuds will steal the thunder that Sony’s new cans would have otherwise generated, and maybe some new smart home or mobile tech will be able to create the kind excitement usually reserved for these more powerful brands.
We wish we could give you a little bit better than maybe, but with the current state of the world, it would be unwise to make any prediction that’s more concrete than that. When fire tornadoes and murder hornets are making headlines in this day and age, there’s no telling what’s going to happen even a few days from now.
We’re hopeful for products that could advance the conversation in their respective fields, like the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless did for true wireless earbuds in 2018 or the Asus ProArt StudioBook Pro X did in 2019. We’re also hopeful for products that go beyond the mainstream, like the community-controlled underwater drone that turned heads a few years back.
IFA acts as the launching pad for the holiday season for laptops. Companies like Lenovo, Asus, and Acer often use it to make sweeping updates to their laptop lines, even if just to move up to the latest-and-greatest components.
Intel usually has a new line of mobile processors timed to this event, last year’s being the 10th-gen Ice Lake chips. Laptop manufacturers are often eager to implement these latest processors to get out product updates in time for holiday shoppers.
This year, we’re anticipating the launch of 11th-gen Tiger Lake, the company’s follow-up to Ice Lake. With the success of AMD’s Ryzen 4000 chips, the stakes are high for these new 10nm Intel processors. Tiger Lake will debut Intel’s new Xe graphics architecture, which promise up to two times the graphics performance as Ice Lake. Tiger Lake will be our first glimpse of Xe, which will eventually make its way to discrete graphics cards.
IFA is also an important show for accessories. External monitors, mice, and keyboards can get announced at IFA, with a particular focus on monitors. Last year saw the announcement of the impressive Asus ProArt display, which was one of the first mini-LED monitors to be announced.
There have been plenty of quirky smart home products that have been introduced at the show in the past, so you can expect more of the same. There’s also been a huge emphasis on smart appliances, both big and small. LG and Samsung are no strangers to being the more active participants in the space, with the latter having announced a new WashTower combo for tight spaces.
Other smart home stalwarts, like Amazon and Google, haven’t typically been active with product announcements and releases. Google, for example, made announcements related to some new updates to its smart displays — like the arrival of Netflix and Zoom conferencing, and how some hotels are employing Nest Hubs to act as a concierge service.
Many other notable smart home brands made notable announcements ahead of IFA 2020. Some Roombas will soon be able to leverage iRobot’s new Genius Home Intelligence platform, which offers tighter automations with other smart home gadgets — while also giving some of its Roombas the smarts to know where to clean up after you make a mess. Robot vacuum maker Trifo may not have a presence on the ground this time, but it’s expected to unveil some new and interesting models.
Lenovo has also been known to announce products for the show, and you can certainly bet that it’ll do the same this year. From hybrid tablets with a focus on smart home to smart displays, we anticipate that Lenovo wwon’t disappoint.
Beyond the usual suspects, pet-related products and small appliances are also expected to be in full force given the show’s history.