Every August, the consumer technology industry heads to Berlin, Germany for one of the year's largest tech events — IFA.
What is IFA?
Running since 1924, IFA (which is short for the Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin) is Europe's biggest tech show and is home to new product announcements from a huge range of companies.
The likes of Samsung and Sony will be in attendance, each dominating the vast halls of the Messe Berlin convention center with stands covered in art installations made from 4K (or even 8K) televisions. Elsewhere, almost every tech firm you can think of will be showing off new products — and as well as the usual smartphones, speakers and TVs, IFA will serve up a huge range of smart home tech, too.
In fact, 2018's show will see the return of a dedicated smart home area in hall 6.2, where 70 companies spread across 3,000 square meters will show off their latest products to make your home smarter, more connected and more intelligent.
Smart home exhibitors in this space for 2018 include Eve Systems, Honeywell, Huawei, Intel, Netatmo, Ring, Tado, Yale and Z-Wave. Smart home tech will also feature elsewhere and on the stands of companies like LG, Samsung, Sony, Harman, and Philips.
For 2018, IFA will hold two press days on 29 and 30 August, then opens its doors to the public on August 31 until September 5.
What to expect from IFA 2018
Acer will be one of the first companies to take the stage at IFA this year, holding its press conference at 10:30am local time (4:30am EST / 1:30am PDT) on August 29. Little is known for now, but we suspect the company will use the event to announce new high-end gaming computers under its Predator brand, powered by the latest 8th-generation Intel processors.
IFA will give ASUS a chance to show off its ROG gaming smartphone. The device was first revealed at Computex in June, but with few details and no release date. Hopefully IFA is where this information will be firmed up ahead of it going on sale.
Bang & Olufsen
High-end audio company Bang & Olufsen is holding a press conference at 10am local time on August 29, where we expect to see new audio products from the company's BeoPlay range. A smart speaker is high on our wish list, naturally, and earlier this year the company hinted that voice-controlled devices could be just around the corner.
Wearables and fitness trackers are popular at IFA, and leaked images published this week suggest a new device from Fitbit could be one of the stars. Obtained by Android Authority, the images are said to be of the upcoming Charge 3 fitness tracker, complete with a new touchscreen and waterproofing. As with other Fitbits, there is also a heart rate monitor and fitness tracking via a companion smartphone app.
The Fossil Group
Fossil hasn't made any formal announcement for IFA yet, but will almost certainly have plenty to show off once the doors open. Initially caught off-guard by the Apple Watch, The Fossil Group has worked hard to get itself into the smartwatch and hybrid watch race.
Its brands include Michael Kors, Skagen, Kate Spade, Marc Jacobs and Fossil itself, so you can expect to see new models from some or all of these labels at IFA.
Huawei subsidiary Honor is holding its IFA press conference at 2pm local time on August 30, and a new flagship is expected to be revealed. Invitations to the event say the new device will be "crazy fast" and "crazy smart", but that's all we know for now.
Huawei is not holding a press event at IFA this year, but is instead hosting a keynote on August 31 in association with the show itself. It is likely that Huawei will use this stage time to announce its latest Kirin mobile processor, but not much else. We expect to see Huawei leave the IFA limelight for Honor this time around.
Just as it did at CES in January, we are expecting to see LG go all-in with its ThinQ brand of smart home devices. Confirmed for the LG stand is the new Styler ThinQ and Styler Mirrored Glass Door clothes steamers, but we expect to see more at the company's press conference, which takes place at 10am local time on August 30.
While it's easy to poke fun at mundane household appliances being given artificial intelligence, LG and Samsung have pursued the niche for several years now, and by tapping into the popularity of voice assistants, their tactics are starting to make sense. We suspect IFA 2018 will see the LG ThinQ and Samsung SmartThings systems each make more sense than ever before, driven by the Google Assistant and Samsung's Bixby. (Check out The GearBrain, our smart home compatibility checker to see the other compatible products that work with Samsung SmartThings.)
Lenovo used IFA 2017 to show off its Explorer virtual reality headset, so we're hoping to see an update on this for 2018. The company is also likely to have its Mirage Solo headset on display, but an update for the device - which only launched earlier this year - seems unlikely for now.
Elsewhere on the Lenovo stand, the rumormill claims we'll see a new high-end Yoga convertible laptop, complete with 4K display with support for the company's Active Pen stylus. Although not detachable, the device is likely to be similar to the pricey Microsoft Surface Book 2.
The Philips press conference takes place at 12:15pm local time on August 30. You can expect to see new Ultra HD gaming monitors and OLED televisions, but smart home fans should keep their eyes peeled for the company's new range of mirrors, floor-standing lamps, and outdoor lighting.
Samsung's invitation to its IFA press conferenceSamsung
One of the biggest events of IFA this year will be Samsung's one-hour press conference, starts at 10:45am local time on August 30. The invitation includes images of a television, a smart fridge, a washing machine, and the company's new Note 9 smartphone.
We hope to see Samsung expand on the plans it briefly outlined for SmartThings at the Note 9 event earlier this month. With LG pushing ahead with its ThinQ smart home range, we hope to see Samsung counter effectively with SmartThings, as the company has a few loose ends to tie together before it can claim to offer a complete smart home solution.
Sony is yet to jump into the smart home arena in the same way Samsung and LG have - not to mention Amazon, Google, Philips, Sonos and many others. So, while Sony has an IFA press conference scheduled for 1pm local time on August 30, we expect the emphasis to be on smartphones. In particular, 91Mobiles believes Sony will reveal a new mid-range handset called the Xperia XA3.
Other than that, we hope to see Sony show off some new high-end televisions and home audio equipment, but for now any such announcements are still firmly under wraps.
Finally, the Yale Smart Living branch of lock giant ASSA ABLOY will hold a press event at 11am local time on August 30. The company says it will be showing off "new networked security products" which expand the existing Smart Living range of smart door locks.
Yale, celebrating its 175th birthday this year, will also use IFA to reveal "numerous" new products across categories like indoor and outdoor security cameras, and a smart home alarm system.