IFA, Europe’s annual leading trade show for consumer electronics and home appliances taking place in Messe Berlin, surprised us this year as well, showing the upcoming trends on the market.
The Internet of Things (also known as IoT), was actually “the thing” of this year’s show with big players presenting innovative solutions for smart homes, as well as their latest flagship smartphones, TVs and smartwatches which impressed the crowds.
Among a great number of announcements, we distinguished the ones that stood out for us:
SmartThings (Internet of Things)
Having acquired the homonymous company a couple of months ago, Samsung presented the new platform for smart homes called SmartThings. The platform allows you to remotely monitor what’s happening in your home and informs you about possible break-ins or any other problems that may rise in the household e.g. a water leak.
By installing different types of sensors with a relatively low cost, SmartThings' hub collects information and sends any relevant updates to your smartphone or tablet, regardless to its software (iOS/Android).
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+
In the Korean’s company exhibition room we had the chance to take a close look at the two newest smartphones, the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+. Even though the Galaxy Note 5 is not yet (officially) available in Europe, it was presented in Berlin as the company’s most glamorous model of the series with the best manufacturing quality.
The Galaxy S6 Edge+ which has already arrived in the shelves of many stores, is the larger version of the Galaxy S6 Edge with a 5.7 inches screen and stands out thanks to its curved design. The rest of the device’s technical specifications are top level as well, such as the 16megapixels camera with the optical image stabilization function.
Huawei Ascend Mate S and Huawei G8
Huawei, also, presented two new models running the Android 5.1 Lollipop, proving that the Chinese company is rightly among the leading smartphones manufacturers in the world. The Huawei Mate S packs a 5.5-inch Full-HD display, 8-core processor and 3GB RAM, and is also the company’s first waterproof device.
Equally impressive is the Force Touch technology and its implementation, although it is supported only in the luxury version of the device. Force Touch allows the device to recognize different levels of finger pressure on the screen and at the same time activating different functions depending on the app. For example, if the user applies pressure on a specific point on an image, then the photo app focuses on this point, and the more the pressure, the greater the focus is.
Another feature that impressed us is the ability of Force Touch to transform the Mate S into a weighing device, which accurately measures the weight of an object when it is placed on the device’s screen, as long as it does not surpass the total of 400 grams.
Prices for the Mate S will be starting from around £476, but if you find it a bit pricey for your tastes, then Huawei recommends the Huawei G8 priced at £291, a mid-range smartphone equipped with a 13MP camera, Snapdragon 615 SoC, 3GB RAM and 32GB of internal storage.
Sony Xperia Z5 Series
Not one, but three new top smartphones were presented by Sony this year in Berlin, including the world's first 4K display smartphone. Specifically, the Sony Xperia Z5 brings the familiar design of Sony models with a few but significant changes, which make the Xperia Z5 one of the most beautiful smartphones on the market.
Sony’s “small wonder” smartphone, the Sony Z3 Compact, gets a successor. The Sony Xperia Z5 Compact incorporates all of the top features we meet on the flagship series, now in a smaller and more convenient size thanks to its 4.6 inch display.
The 4K resolution is no longer a privilege of TVs and PC monitors, since Sony is the first company which integrates this type of screen on a smartphone, namely on the Xperia Z5 Premium, which sets new standards in screen resolution for mobile devices.
All of the above three models share almost the same features: an 8-core processor, 3GB RAM (2GB for the Xperia Z5 Compact), 32GB of build-in storage and fingerprint sensors.
Another common feature in Sony’s aforementioned smartphones is the 23MP camera, which incorporates the Intelligent Active Mode and SteadyShot technologies, offering 4K resolution video recording. Sony sets the bar high and states that this is “the best camera you can find on an Android smartphone”.
The show held many surprises for smartwatches lovers, with remarkable new launches such as the 2nd generation Moto 360 by Motorola and Samsung’s Gear S2.
The Moto 360, one of the most beautiful smartwatches of 2014, now comes revamped in two different screen versions (42 mm and 46 mm) with the crown placed on a higher point. Featuring an 8-core processor, 4GB of storage and 512MB RAM, the 2nd generation of the Moto 360 is expected to have longer battery life thanks to its 400mAh battery.
As in Motorola’s proposal, Samsung also prefers round design and officially presented the Gear S2, the main competitor of the Apple Watch. Samsung’s new smartwatch stands out for its beautiful design and the rotating bezel, which is easy to use without covering the screen.
As expected, the leading TV manufacturers had many to showcase this year at IFA 2015, with the Ultra HD (4K) HDR resolution television in the spotlight and the 3D devices being absent!
LG Electronics continues to invest in OLED technology, utilizing the HDR (High Dynamic Range) technology to take image quality to the next level by delivering impressive contrast ratio, perfect black and vivid colors. Namely the LG EF9500 and LG EG9600 are the first TVs in the series that support the above “deadly” combination, with 55-inch and 65-inch screens respectively and a price range of £3,225 to £4,514.
Samsung had a significant presence, also. in this product category presenting the JS7000 series offering 55, 60 and 65-inch models. These TVs support Ultra HD resolution and are based on the Tizen OS platform developed by Samsung itself.
Philips’s 65-inch Ambilight TV was surely one of the pleasant surprises, which integrates 10 LED pico-projectors on the back of the screen, that extend the image on the space behind the TV, delivering impressive results while playing music or video.
Finally, Panasonic presented its own OLED TV, the CZ950, competing with LG’s devices. According to Philips, the CZ950 delivers the most accurate color performance thanks to its HDR technology and covers 90% of the DCI’s professional color standard range for an even more realistic movie experience.
And surprises don’t stop there…
Star Wars BB-8 Droid
While we wait until The Force Awakens (the new Star Wars Movie hits cinema theaters on December), we can play with the new BB-8 Droid, the remote-controlled robot with the special “Force”.
The renowned manufacturer Sphero, brings the new Droid from the Star Wars movie directly in our living room. Although it comes in a smaller scale than the actual one, it handles beautifully through the dedicated smartphone application. Having its own personality, the BB-8 Droid can project virtual holograms, bringing us even closer to the Star Wars Universe.
Acer CloudBook Aspire One
Acer presented its new low cost Windows 10 laptops which can become an ideal tool for pupils and students. In particular, the company presented 11-inch and 14-inch models with HD resolution screens, 2GB RAM, 16GB or 32GB internal storage and 7 hours battery life.
Every year IFA gives us an inside look at the upcoming trends in the consumer electronics market. Whether we like it or not, IFA is a foretaste of things to come and technologies which most probably will become part of our everyday life in the future.