Wearables dominate a busy week of Android-related announcements in Berlin.
IFA is an annual consumer electronics show held in Berlin, Germany, which often serves as a launch event for mobile products heading into the holiday buying season and the beginning of the following year. It's one of the major events of any given year for mobile tech, right up there with the Barcelona-based Mobile World Congress.
In previous years, IFA was dominated by the Samsung Galaxy Note line, which has since relocated to early August. And so he past couple of shows have played host to a more diverse set of news in tablets, smartwatches, mid-range phones, accessories and more.
This year's event officially runs from Sept. 2-7, with the official media days leading up to it — so look for our coverage to really kick off from Aug. 31. The main venue is the enormous Messe Berlin complex in the west of the city, with other press conferences and gatherings throughout Berlin.
IFA 2016 looks like being as busy as ever for Android-powered gadgets. Let's take a look at some of the broad trends we're expecting to see.
Nougat and Android Wear 2.0
The LG V20 may be the first phone shipping with the new Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box this September, but that doesn't mean some sneaky phone makers won't be able to stick pre-release Nougat code on phones or tablets ahead of the V20 reveal. (Though that said, LG seems pretty confident in actually making it to market ahead of rivals.) In particular, look for Huawei to show off its new EMUI 5 interface, likely based on Android 7.0.
Expect three new Android Wear smartwatches.
The next major Android Wear release will be a major highlight for Android fans, with the likely arrival of at least three new Android watches running the new, revamped, circle-friendly OS. Recent FCC leaks have all but confirmed the existence of a circular ASUS ZenWatch 3. Lenovo has a press conference scheduled where we could well see a third-generation Moto 360. And a year on from the Huawei Watch, the Chinese firm might also have a successor waiting in the wings.
Expect all these watches to be slimmer than their predecessors, thanks to the more efficient Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor announced back in February.
Samsung Gear S3
Samsung will unveil the successor to the Gear S2 on Aug. 31 at an event at Berlin's Tempodrom concert venue. That's the same place it took the wraps off the S2 a year ago. (And before that, it was the place we got our first look at new Galaxy Notes.)
The current crop of rumors point to another circular design with a rotating bezel (no surprises there), as well as standard and "Classic" variants. On the software side, expect new fitness functions to augment Samsung's growing S Health ecosystem.
A big show for Huawei
Huawei has raised its profile in Western markets considerably since the start of 2015, and this year the quality of its products has improved dramatically, particularly in terms of software. In addition to a second-gen Huawei Watch, we'd expect the Chinese firm to use IFA to show off its new EMUI 5 interface, which promises a completely overhauled design, stock Android-style notifications and an end to many of the software quirks that've plagued EMUI 4 and 4.1.
That's thanks to the work of Huawei's new design center, and its aim to offer software experiences better tailored to Western audiences.
As well as a second-gen Huawei watch, expect revamped software from the Chinese firm.
So what about products themselves? At the very least we'd expect a new phone to show off this new software, perhaps a new member of the Huawei Mate family -- a Mate S2 or Mate 9. We've seen two larger Huawei designs doing the rounds lately -- one Nexus 6P-like slab, with a camera "visor" up top, and another with a more traditional camera bump housing two lenses. It's unclear which might break cover at IFA, however one executive at the Chinese firm has apparently poured cold water on suggestions that the Mate 9 will be ready in time for IFA. (That being said, it's unclear where a smaller Mate S2 might fit alongside the P9 Plus.)
In either case, expect software improvements to take center stage, backed up by an improved (likely Leica-branded) camera setup, building on the solid showing of the P9.
A new Sony phone of some description
Sony just can't help releasing phones every six months. Even with the Xperia X and X Performance being just a few months old, there's a decent chance we'll see some sort of upgraded model at IFA. The first leaked shots of the new Xperia model, known by the model number F833x pointed to a larger model with improved camera hardware (including laser autofocus and dual-LED flash.) However more recent reports suggest it'll be an upgraded Xperia X Performance variant in roughly the same 5-inch form factor.
Sony too is among the potential partners with new Android Wear 2.0 hardware, though we have no specific info on any plans for new Sony smartwatches at this year's IFA show.
IFA as a whole is about much more than a handful of phones and watches, and we'll surely see weird and wonderful new things from brands both familiar and unfamiliar. Particularly, expect Germany's Telekom (T-Mobile) and Vodafone networks to show off their new ranges from a variety of manufacturers.
There's a chance we could get a look at some of the first Chromebooks to run Android apps out of the box. And with Android now powering diverse and varied types of gadgets, there's a chance Google's OS could show up in unexpected places.
What we're not expecting
- Those new HTC-built Nexus phones. Don't expect anything until later in September, after the LG V20 — the first phone with Nougat out of the box — has done its thing.
- The LG V20 itself. Although the next big thing from LG will technically debut during IFA, it won't be announced publicly in Berlin. Instead, look for our coverage of the V20's San Francisco launch event.
What are you most looking forward to from IFA 2016? Shout out in the comments!