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Best of IFA 2019: Our picks from Europe’s biggest tech show

Expert Reviews Staff
6 Sep 2019
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The greatest laptops, phones, wearables and entertainment systems on show in Berlin

IFA 2019 has left a sizeable heap of laptops, smartphones and sound systems in its wake. From foldable handsets to retro-futuristic speakers, there have been a few novel standouts from the crowd. Mainly, however, this year has been more about iterations and tweaks than revolutionary design.

That’s not to say we haven’t been impressed by some of the offerings in the Berlin technology extravaganza. Below is a collection of products that particularly caught our eye.

Razer Blade Stealth (2019)

Razer’s 2019 version of its Blade Stealth laptop combines the lightweight design of an ultrabook with some serious gaming chops, underpinned by the option of a powerful Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 discrete GPU.

As Edward Munn said in his hands-on review: “Razer has given its Blade Stealth laptops some true gaming configurations for 2019.”

Galaxy Book S

The first laptop to be powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx, the Galaxy Book S is an ultraportable beauty. Much like the Acer Swift 5 below, it’s a masterclass in lightweight design, weighing in at only 960g.

“I’m certain that performance still won’t match the same speeds of equivalent Intel-based machines, but when it comes to sheer portability, I really don’t think it gets any better than this,” wrote Nathan Spendelow in his hands-on review.

Acer Swift 5 (2019)

Acer unveiled a new laptop in the Swift range, pitched by the company as the lightest in its class. Weighing only 990g, it’s easy on the arms and comes with a handful of subtle design improvements on its predecessor.

“Acer’s new Swift 5 is certainly a step in the right direction,” wrote Nathan Spendelow in his hands-on review. “A proper backpack-friendly ultraportable with the credentials that any modern laptop deserves, the Swift 5 looks set to rocket to the top of our best laptops hierarchy when it launches later this year.

Nokia 7.2

Nokia has a tendency to cram as many devices as it can into these sort of events, and this year was no exception with five new handsets. The mid-range Nokia 7.2 stood out, however, combining top-end attributes with cutthroat affordability.

As Nathan Spendelow wrote in his hands-on review: “Regardless of how the phone performs, I still think Nokia has managed to successfully combine top-shelf features at a price that’s more befitting of lighter wallets. Hopefully, if this camera is as good as Nokia is boasting, then I truly believe that the 7.2 has all the hallmarks to do very well indeed."

Asus ROG Phone 2

Packing a Snapdragon 855 Plus CPU and up to 1TB storage, the Asus ROG Phone 2 is angled for serious mobile gamers. It has a rather... distinctive look to it, but the phone is sure to be a winner in the Android e-sports world.

“This phone is obviously not targeted at your typical consumer,” writes Tom Bruce in his hands-on review. “For the majority of smartphone users, the ROG Phone 2 may well look like a garish and overpriced monstrosity. For serious mobile gamers, however, it looks like the phone to own in 2019."

Samsung Galaxy Fold

It’s had a laboured start in life, but the Galaxy Fold is back in the public eye following rather disastrous claims of screen malfunctions. We went hands on with it at IFA, and found it to be an intriguing - if cumbersome - device.

“My time spent with the Galaxy Fold may have been brief, but it was certainly an interesting experience,” wrote Nathan Spendelow in his hands-on review. “The market is saturated with identikit devices at the moment, so it’s rather refreshing to try something completely different from the norm – even if I do think it’s a little bit silly at this early stage.”

Garmin Vivoactive 4/4S

The latest entry into Garmin’s Vivoactive line is a feature-packed, fitness-focused smartwatch with music playback and the option of a smaller ‘S’ variant for thinner wrists. At £239, it’s also great value for money.

As Edward Munn wrote in his hands-on review: “The Vivoactive 4 is better looking than its predecessor, packs in loads more features and, crucially, has a lower starting price. On paper, there’s nothing not to like.”

Philips new OLED+ TVs

Philips announced a duo of flagship TVs at IFA, available in 55in and 65in sizes, which both come with a new multi-speaker sound system, produced in conjunction with high-end audio firm Bowers & Wilkins. Consider the inclusion of Philips’ third-generation P5 image-quality engine, and you have two high-end living-room cinema setups.

As Jonathan Bray wrote: “Philips is also claiming great leaps forward in picture quality, and given how impressed we’ve been by the firm’s OLED TVs in the past, the new offerings have plenty of potential.”

Sonos Move

This is the first Sonos speaker to include a battery, making it the first that you can pick up and plonk in the garden without having to trail a mains cable back inside. The Sonos Move is by no means a small speaker, so trips in the backpack might be kept to a minimum, but it fills a crucial gap in the company’s output.

“In short, what Sonos has built here is the most complete smart speaker on the market and I can’t wait to get one in for a more extended listen,” wrote Jonathan Bray in his hands-on review.

Braun LE Speakers

It has been 28 years since Braun was in the audio market, but the German manufacturer is returning to its roots with a modern restyle of its classic, 1959 LE Speakers. The monochrome, box shaped design has had an update, and comes equipped with a range of modern features including digital signal processing and in-built Google Assistant.

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