IFA 2017’s biggest announcements

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IFA 2017’s biggest announcements

The September time frame positions the Berlin show perfectly as a launch pad for holiday products. As such, some of tech’s biggest names, including Samsung, Sony, LG and Lenovo, use it to debut some of their biggest products of the year. It’s also proven a solid showcase for some of the wackier startups that have historically had a tough time getting noticed at larger shows. CES.

The event is also a great bellwether for some of the industry’s biggest names, nearly half a year ahead of CES. The show officially kicked off on Friday, but companies have been launching products for most of the week, and the trends have started to emerge. Unsurprisingly, smart assistants are everywhere, as more third-parties push to integrate Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Fitness-focused wearables, wireless earbuds and new smartphone camera tech have also made a splash at the event.

What follows is a list of the best that this year’s IFA has to offer.

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LG V30

A couple of years back, Samsung gave the Galaxy Note its own standalone press conference, leaving the title of IFA’s biggest launch wide open for the taking. This year, LG seems to have run away with the show. The company’s new flagship proves that it’s still capable of making a compelling phone, even without leaning too heavily on gimmicks. The phone’s got a beautiful quad HD OLED display and some extremely compelling camera features.

2/8

Moto X4

Of course, gimmicks aren’t always bad. The whole modular thing worked out pretty well for Motorola with the Moto Z, and now the company’s back with a new mid-range that offers up some compelling features. The phone is Motorola’s first to ship with Alexa on board, something the company promised to start doing back at MWC in February. Even more interesting is the addition of a Bluetooth feature that lets the Moto X4 stream to multiple devices (speakers, headphones) from different manufactures all at once, making it a sort of low-end take on Sonos.

3/8

Samsung Gear Sport

Samsung went hard on the wearable front this time out. The company refreshed its Gear Fit band and IconX wireless earbuds. More interesting is the addition of the Gear Sport. The watch ports most of the features introduced on last year’s Gear S3 into a smaller, much more manageable form factor. It’s still not small by any means, but it’s much more manageable. It’s also got a bunch of new fitness-focused features on-board and is even more water resistant than its predecessor.

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Bang & Olufsen Play E8

There are a bunch of Bluetooth earbuds debuting this week at IFA, but the B&O Beoplay E8 are probably the most compelling. The pricey buds feature a sleek design as is B&O’s MO and are tuned to the system the company uses with the rest of its headphone line. The four-hour battery life also outdoes a number of competitors.

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5/8

Sony Xperia XZ1

Camera tricks? Sony’s  got ‘em. In spades. The latest flagship offering from the Sony line packs in even more photo features, ranging from the useful to the downright silly. Among other things, the device can shoot in super-slow motion, take hi-res selfies and even double as a 3D scanner. Oh, and the XZ1 will also be one of the first devices to ship with Android Oreo right out of the box. As far as its availability here in the States, the phone will be available unlocked, as Sony is still having trouble getting carriers on board.

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Garmin Vivoactive 3 

Garmin tends not to get as much credit as other high-profile wearable manufacturers, but the company has pulled off a pretty impressive pivot from standalone GPS consoles to some of the most popular smartwatches on the market. The new Vivoactive 3 adds GPS, heart-rate monitoring and an impressive seven days of battery life. It also features Garmin Pay, a new proprietary mobile payment solution, because there aren’t enough of those already.

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Olympus E-M10 Mark III

High-end camera makers have been feeling the squeeze from ever-improving smartphone cameras over the past several years, but they’re hoping that an increasing interest in photography will spur some to make the jump to something more real. The E-M10 Mark III is the new low-end of Olympus’s excellent line of mirrorless cameras. It features all sorts of new modes for beginners and even added filters to help Instagramify high-end shooting.

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So Many Smart Speakers

Sony, Harman, JBL — it’s hard to settle on just one. These HomePod competitors are probably the biggest trend of the show, delivering Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant in much higher-end sound systems than their respective companies’ proprietary hub. These devices are likely just the first in a wave of third-party products set to help Amazon and Google expand their grip on the smart home.

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