IFA is here – a huge show on the tech calendar that’s already offering up an array of shiny new wearables for us to get our hands on.
Essential reading: Best sports watches with music playback
So what have we seen from the big-name wearable brands at this year’s show? Here’s our rundown of the major IFA 2019 wearable tech announcements.
Asus has already made a splash at this year’s show by announcing the VivoWatch SP, a smartwatch with a seriously impressive range of health monitoring features.
The VivoWatch SP boasts not only a PPG heart rate monitor and an ECG tracker, but also the ability to check your blood pressure. This makes it a powerhouse on the health tracking front, and it’s paired with a new, far sleeker design from Asus.
Previous watches from the company had featured more workmanlike or even medical-looking designs, so it’s great to see a more fashionable model hit the market. Most impressively of all, it will apparently have a 14-day battery life. The watch is due out in Q4 2019, though we don’t have any pricing details just yet.
Garmin has gone big at this year’s show, unveiling a swathe of new watches and updates to existing models.
The headline news is probably the new Vivoactive 4, which ramps up the health features of the Vivoactive line, adding animated workout guidance and a Pulse Ox sensor. We’ve also seen an entirely new design in the form of the Venu, which we’ve managed to get time to test, alongside a shiny dual-display model, the Vivomove Luxe, part of its new Vivomove 3 line.
If that wasn’t enough, Marvel’s entered the fray by partnering with Garmin to make two special edition smartwatches themed around Captains America and Marvel respectively, its Legacy Hero series.
Garmin had already unveiled the Garmin Fenix 6 ahead of the show, but hasn’t rested on its laurels – and we’re looking forward to testing as many of these new models as possible in the weeks to come.
Wear OS watches are set to make a splash at IFA 2019, based on what we’ve seen so far. Michael Kors has joined in on the fun by announcing three new smartwatches at the show.
These comprise of the Michael Kors Access MKGO, Kors Access Bradshaw 2 and the Lexington 2. The latter two are updates to existing models, bringing new processors and features plus increased storage and RAM.
The MKGO is a newer beast, though, with an extremely thin profile and sporty look, powered by a new Snapdragon 3100 processor – but this is paired with less storage and RAM than the other two MK watches.
As we said, Wear OS is in vogue at IFA 2019, and Puma is getting in on the action, too. It’s paired up with Fossil to create its first ever smartwatch, and it’s unsurprisingly a sporty looking number.
The Puma Smartwatch is designed as a sports watch first, with fitness tracking powered by Google Fit and silicon straps, plus an AMOLED display. You’ll be able to take it swimming as well as track workouts with built-in GPS and heart rate monitoring.
It also gets the Snapdragon 3100, though only 4GB of storage and 512MB of RAM, meaning it’s not got as much memory to play with as other new Wear OS models. We’ll be trying to get hands-on as soon as we can.
The Fossil Group recently introduced its first Gen 5 Wear smartwatches packing Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 3100 Wear chipset and a speaker for the first time.
But it’s not resting on its laurels – a host of smartwatches have been announced by the group at IFA so far. This includes the above range from Michael Kors, as well as a new watch from Emporio Armani, which we’ve gone hands-on with already. There’s also a new Axial Smartwatch from Diesel, and you can read our thoughts on it here. Fossil is really taking hold of some parts of the smartwatch market. They’ve also made the above Puma watch, doubling down on partnerships all over the place.
Fossil has also indicated that new hybrid smartwatches should be landing later this year, so we’ll be keeping an eye out right to the end of the show to see if this comes to anything in Berlin.
Huami, maker of the Amazfit range of smartwatches and fitness trackers, is at this year’s IFA and hosting a press conference later this week.
The Chinese tech outfit has been busy in 2019 unveiling a host of new wearables including the Amazfit Verge 2, the next generation Amazfit Bip and, more recently, the Amazfit GTS, which looks a lot like an Apple Watch.
These new affordable, feature-packed devices have yet to make it out to Europe. So Huami’s presence at this year’s show could indicate that it’s decided it’s time to launch those new Amazfit wearables further afield. Back in June the company revealed it would be unveiling 10 new devices over the coming months, so it looks like we’ll see something new from Huami too.
Casio is fresh from announcing its new Pro Trek Smart model, which finally adds heart rate monitoring to the bundle of features the outdoor Wear OS smartwatch boasts.
While the smartwatch retains a lot of the features seen on its predecessor, Casio is making some changes in the software department. The big news is the improved Activity app, which now offers profiles for running and trail running to take advantage of that added HR sensor.
With the announcement so close to IFA, we’re hoping it’s here in Berlin for us to get a closer look at.
Fitbit doesn’t tend to make major announcements at IFA, and just ahead of this year’s show it broke the big news of its latest smartwatch, the Fitbit Versa 2.
We’ve had some hands-on time with the Versa 2, and found it a straightforward update to the original Versa. The design has changed in very slight ways, smoothing the watch’s corners a tad, and sleep tracking has been brought into the fold in a big way. The other major change is the addition of Alexa as a built-in assistant on the watch.
Fitbit also announced its new Aria Air smart scale and Fitbit Premium subscription service, but still has an exhibitor space at IFA this year, so we’re expecting it to have brought the Versa 2 along ahead of its launch on 15 September.
IFA isn’t just about smartwatches, of course, and there’s a wide range of VR and AR technology and experiences to get our teeth into at the show.
Chief among these is the latest in HTC’s Vive line, the Vive Cosmos, which was announced back at CES in January. We’ve been slowly getting more details since then, and the headset is still expected to launch very soon.
Hopefully we can get a closer look at just what HTC’s standalone headset is truly capable of on the IFA showroom floor.
The Chinese tech giant’s focus at the moment seems very much fixed on its newly-announced HarmonyOS, a new operating system that will eventually power the full range of its devices.
Huawei indicated that smartwatches would be some of the first devices to run on the Android alternative, and a fresh leak of the Huawei Watch GT 2 is fuelling speculation that it could be the first to use the new OS. Having already moved away from Google’s Wear OS with its Watch GT range, IFA could well be the place to see a Huawei Watch or Watch GT with that new HarmonyOS under the hood.
Another rumour claims that IFA could also be the time and place for the Chinese company to detail the AR glasses it’s been working on, meaning we could be in for quite a show from Huawei.
Having already unveiled the Galaxy Watch Active 2, it’s probably safe to assume that Samsung has got its big smartwatch announcements out early before the IFA news rush.
We’re intrigued to get a closer look at the new Active and maybe get to see what the Galaxy Watch Active 2 Under Armour Edition has to offer in comparison.
Chinese company TCL is the parent of brands including Blackberry and Alcatel, so it’s far from a stranger to IFA.
The company has confirmed that it’s bringing plenty of new tech to the show, including a really intriguing device codenamed “Project Archery”, a wearable display. TCL says that the gadget will give the feel of a 100-inch viewing experience in a sunglasses-sized profile.
This sounds like some sort of smartglasses setup, but without any further details we’ll have to wait for the show to start to know for sure. We’ll be keeping an ear to the ground, though, regarding this interesting prospect.