Image: James Cridland
Next week we’ll see a wealth of new Android devices announced in Germany in the run up to IFA 2012. For the uninitiated, IFA is an annual consumer electronics show held in Berlin, which often serves as a launching platform for smartphone and tablet manufacturers -- think of it as a mini-Mobile World Congress. Last year’s IFA hosted the launch of the original Samsung Galaxy Note and Galaxy Tab 7.7, as well as the Xperia Arc S from Sony and two new Windows phones from HTC. This year’s event officially runs from Aug. 31 to Sep. 5, but many of larger announcements will be made in the couple of days before IFA officially kicks off.
IFA 2012’s most significant Android announcements are expected to come from Samsung, which is preparing to take the wraps off its Galaxy Note 2. But we’re also anticipating new smartphones and tablets from Sony and others.
Android Central will be on the ground in Berlin from early next week, but in the meantime, we’ve cooked up a definitive guide to exactly what we’re expecting to see at this year’s IFA. Read on to learn more.
The leading Android manufacturer will unveil its second-generation Galaxy Note to the world at an event on the evening (Berlin time) of Wednesday, Aug. 29. That’s as much as the company has confirmed, and a dearth of reliable leaked info has left us scratching our heads about the true nature of the Galaxy Note 2.
The handful of reliable leaked reports suggest a 5.5-inch, 16:9 orientation screen, a Exynos 4 Quad CPU -- same as the Galaxy S3, but likely clocked higher at around 1.6GHz, and either Android 4.0 or 4.1. Samsung’s pressure-sensitive S Pen will of course make a return, though any software or hardware enhancements that may have been made remain a mystery.
Could Samsung also release the Galaxy Note 2 at IFA, as it did with the Note 10.1 in New York City? It’s been rumored, but we wouldn’t hold our breath. Check Android Central around noon EDT on Aug. 29 for full coverage of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 2 launch.
Samsung’s also holding its official IFA press conference the next on the following day, Aug. 30. This is where we’re expecting to see all of the company’s non-Galaxy Note announcements. Possibilities include a third-generation Galaxy Tab (remember that rumored “retina” Tab that was reportedly in development), as well as some new Android smartphones for the mid-to-low-end. That’s an educated guess on our part, though -- Samsung’s gotten much better at keeping secrets over the past year, which should result in a few surprises at this year’s IFA.
We're also due to get the Jelly Bean update for the international Galaxy S3, as we exclusively revealed on Tuesday. This should occur shortly after the Aug. 29 Unpacked event for unlocked models sold in various countries including the UK. Naturally, it’ll be another month or so at the earliest until it’s certified by the U.S. carriers and pushed out stateside. Check our preview (and hands-on video) of Jelly Bean on the Galaxy S3 for more details of what to expect.
We’re expecting at least three new smartphones and a tablet from Sony this year, and unlike Samsung, we know almost everything there is to know about these new devices. All of these devices should be shown off for the first time at the company’s Aug. 29 press conference.
The big new device will be the Sony Xperia TX, the artist formerly known as Hayabusa and LT29i. Sporting a slim, sleek, Xperia Arc-like design, a Snapdragon S4 CPU, 720p HD Reality Display, 13MP camera and Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, the Xperia TX looks to be a solid Sony contender for the second half of 2012. The reported presence of a pentaband HSPA+ radio might suggest that the TX could be launched SIM-free in the U.S. The other possibility, however unlikely, is a T-Mobile USA launch.
Next up will be the Sony Xperia Tablet, or Xperia Tablet S, whichever ends up being the final name for Sony’s Tegra 3-powered Tablet S successor. In addition to the aforementioned quad-core CPU, the Xperia Tablet is expected to run either Ice Cream Sandwich or Jelly Bean in a slimmed-down aluminum chassis. The outer casing has reportedly been redesigned, resulting in a smaller “wedge,” and a lighter overall weight and a more premium look and feel. Leaked product slides also show a smart keyboard cover as a possible accessory, and a fully-loaded suite of content from PlayStation and the Sony Entertainment Network.
Other Sony announcements are likely to focus on the Xperia SL (which has actually already appeared on the manufacturer’s website) and the Xperia T. The former is a souped-up Xperia S, with its CPU boosted up to 1.7GHz, while the latter is a smaller, chunkier version of the Xperia TX with a few features pared back. The Xperia T’s camera, for example, comes in at 8MP rather than 13. Representing the entry-level will be the Xperia J.
Motorola will be at IFA, but we’re unsue whether we’ll get any big new products from them. Moto and Verizon have a joint press conference scheduled for Sep. 5 in New York City (that’ll be the Droid RAZR HD, by the way), and with IFA coming just days before that, we’re not sure if the U.S.-centric manufacturer will want to unveil the international RAZR HD ahead of the VZW version. Maybe, maybe not -- we’ll wait and see.
LG will also be in attendance, but won’t be showcasing any new smartphones. It’s possible that the international Optimus Vu might sneak its way into the LG booth, though. Technically, that’s not a new phone, but it’ll likely differ significantly from the Korean version we reviewed earlier this month. The change in CPU (from Snapdragon S3 to Tegra 3) should make the international model a much quicker performer, though at the cost of LTE compatibility.
HTC will be on the show floor, but with no big press conference planned, we shouldn’t expect any major announcements. The lone possibility, we think, might be the Endeavor C2 (aka HTC One X+). This is rumored to be a minor refresh of the One X, with a slightly speedier Tegra 3 CPU, more color options and bundled Beats earphones. Rumors suggest an early October release, so it’s possible this device might quietly slip out at IFA.
Huawei has been ominously quiet at the high end, and the Chinese manufacturer still hasn’t delivered the powerful (though phonetically hilarious) Ascend D Quad, the quad-core beast announced at Mobile World Congress in February. Same goes for the MediaPad 10FHD, the 1080p ICS tablet that was shown alongside it. Maybe we’ll see both, in more complete forms, next week.
Panasonic should be around. Maybe they’ll let us play with the Eluga Power again.
Those are our best guesses, but there’s only one way to find out what’s really coming at this year’s IFA show -- check out Android Central’s exhaustive IFA coverage, starting Wednesday, Aug. 29!