Looking for a new TV, a pair of headphones, or a speaker? You’ve come to the right place because the annual European tech show, IFA, is taking place in Berlin this week and the announcements are coming in thick and fast.
Here are all the cool tech launches you need to know from IFA 2019.
All eyes were on Huawei’s Richard Yu, CEO of the Chinese tech company’s consumer division, delivering the opening keynote at this year’s conference. The focus was on the company’s new Kirin 990 chip which will power its next range of 5G phones, the Kirin A1 chip which will feature in the company’s new wearable devices, as well as an updated version of the P30 Pro which will ship with Android 10.
Yu took the opportunity to highlight the power of Huawei’s mobile AI. In the past two years, Huawei phone owners have accessed the devices’ AI capabilities over 1.6 trillion times. “We are leading the mobile AI in the world,” said Yu.
Amazon wants us to talk more whilst simultaneously watching more TV which doesn't seem great news for our attention spans. The e-commerce giant used its IFA conference to bring more of its Fire TV products to the UK and Europe. First up is the Fire TV Cube, which doubles as a smart speaker and Fire TV input. You don’t need an Alexa remote to access the voice centres thanks to the Local Voice Control which means you can pause, fast forward, rewind and find shows using only your voice.
According to Amazon, US Fire TV Cube customers use the device up to eight times more than other Amazon device customers. The new version, which will be available in the UK for the first time, is the fastest Fire TV Amazon has made, offering 4K ultra HD content, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos sound so it looks and sounds amazing. Available to pre-order now for £109.99, the product will ship on October 19.
It’s also releasing a new Fire TV Edition device thanks to a partnership with JVC – Amazon's first actual TV in the UK. With 4K HDR, and Dolby Vision, the TV benefits from all the Alexa tech you’re used to in the smart speakers, so you can control smart home products using the TV and use voice to start a show or TV. Available in three sizes, 40”, 49” and 55”, prices start from £349.99, and it is available to pre-order now from Amazon and Currys PC World. Shipping will begin on October 21.
Let the music talk
Music was a big element of the IFA announcements this year. Sonos announced its first-ever portable speaker, named Sonos Move. At 3kg, it’s substantial but it’s sure to be one of the most exciting Bluetooth speakers around. Sonos has improved its auto-tune software so it occurs automatically on the device, meaning that you will get the best sound whether you’re outside in the park or at home.
If it’s headphones you’re after, Sennheiser revealed its next-generation Momentum headphones. With improved cushioning on the band, a larger driver inside, a voice assistant button and Tile bluetooth tracking, these headphones look great and are extremely functional too.
Return of the Fold
Samsung used its IFA conference to announce the return of the Galaxy Fold. The top and bottom of the device have new protective caps that act as a protective layer and to enforce its durability. The screen protector on the display is reinforced by the metal outline so no one will be removing that anytime soon.
As well, Samsung says it has minimised the gap between the hinge and the body when the device is shut.
Some parts of the software have been updated too: there’s a split-screen or full-screen keyboard, you can choose which you prefer in the settings, and you can switch the navigation bar to be on the left, centre or right-hand side, depending on which is more comfortable.
The new Galaxy Fold goes on sale today in Korea, and is coming to the UK on September 18 and will cost £1,900 outright.
It isn’t IFA without a fitness wearable announcement or two. Puma is launching its first smartwatch, thanks to a partnership with Fossil Group, focused at athletes. Featuring Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 3100 chipset and running on Google’s Wear OS, the watch uses Google Fit to track things like heart rate, workouts, runs and swims (it’s water-resistant too) in order to build an overall picture of the wearer’s fitness. The smartwatch also features Google Assistant and NFC payments.
The new Puma smartwatch will cost £269 and will be released at some point in November.
Puma isn’t the only sports brand getting into tech. Adidas is launching two new Sport headphones. There’s the RPT-01 wireless headphones, made out of sweat and water-resistant materials, washable ear cushions and an action button for different shortcuts. In addition, it is also bringing out a pair of overhead headphones, designed for running, designed to be sweat and water-resistant and features passive transparency in order to be able to hear the right amount of external sound when you’re working out outside.
Smart home backlash
The tech industry is still riding high on the integration of voice AI into dumb products, Amazon said 100 million Alexa integrated devices have been sold for instance, but a hint of the backlash against this constant listening was on show at IFA. Sennheiser released a new version of its Sonos One speaker – exactly the same as its current Sonos One but there is no microphone on the speaker.
The company says this is about choice, so the consumer can choose to have a speaker in a place where they don’t want a voice AI listening. Given the recent news around third-party contractors listening to recordings from the likes of Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Apple’s Siri, it’s a smart move for Sonos to provide a device which allows consumers to take back control of their privacy.