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IFA: Day 2: Smartphones and Smart Robots

by Ken Hyers | Aug 31, 2017

Day 2 of the big IFA tradeshow in Germany, on Thursday, 31th August, 2017, turned up three notable new products that we saw from LG, Sony, CAT and Miele.

As our Emerging Device Strategies practice noted, there's a lot to see at IFA.

LG V30 Smartphone – 1st smartphone to support 600 MHz LTE

On Thursday August 31, the day before IFA 2017 officially starts, LG introduced its latest flagship, the V30. The new smartphone is the first to support 600 MHz LTE, which T-Mobile has been rolling out across the USA over the last few months.

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The LG V30 is a large phablet with a 6-inch Quad HD OLED display in an 18:9 aspect ratio, with vanishingly small bezels that emphasize the large screen. It doesn’t skimp on other specs as well, sporting a super-fast Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, up to 128GB onboard storage and expandable microSD, 4GB of RAM and a dual 16MP and 13M wide-angle pair of rear cameras and a 5MP front camera. The device runs the latest version of Android (7.1.2 Nougat), has a 3300mAh battery and is water/dust resistant with an IP68 rating. From a features standpoint, it is not lacking in any way.

LG’s challenge will be to capture marketshare during a busy upcoming holiday season when its launch is sandwiched between that of Samsung’s newest Galaxy Note 8 and three new iPhones from Apple, including the much anticipated 10th anniversary model. In the USA, arguably LG’s most important market, the Korean vendor has been challenged to capture customers’ attention and has remained a perennial #3 in the market. This makes its support of T-Mobile’s newest network band important. T-Mobile is the USA’s fastest growing mobile network operator and its rapid rollout of 600 MHz LTE couldn’t be better for LG, guaranteeing that the V30 will get heavy promotion from the UnCarrier. While that support won’t see LG topple the iPhone, it does hold out the promise that LG will see stronger sales in the Q4’17 holiday shopping season, and regain consumers’ attention as a premium smartphone brand.

Sony Xperia XA1 Plus – Sony goes mid-range

Sony has focused heavily on the premium side of the smartphone market for the last few years, leaving the mid- and entry-tiers for others. For IFA 2017 Sony returns to the mid-tier with its Xperia XA1 Plus, a smartphone that packs a large 3430mAh battery, a huge 23-megapixel single rear camera and a full HD 5.5 inch display. While the device doesn’t measure up to Sony’s premium devices like its range-topping XZ Premium, it offers real value to consumers that want a solid smartphone that is guaranteed to last them through the day.

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However, Sony’s challenge isn’t to make great smartphones – it’s always been a leader in high-quality high-spec devices – but to get the phones into consumers’ hands. To grow its brand and drive sales volumes Sony MUST improve its distribution, meaning it has to re-enter mobile operators’ portfolios. Nowhere is this more important than in the USA, arguable the world’s most influential smartphone market, and in the Big 5 markets of Europe (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK). The Xperia XA1 Plus looks to be a great real-world smartphone for the mass market, but if customers never see it, all of Sony’s great work on the device will be for naught.

CAT S31 & S41 – Cat is Back with New Rugged Smartphones

Ultra-rugged smartphone maker Cat has come out with two new super-tough smartphones. The CAT S31 and S41 are affordable smartphones for those working in exacting environments. Both are successors to past models and both are rated IP68 (water proof and dust proof) and also MIL SPEC 810G meaning they can survive drops, shocks and extreme temperature changes that would kill lesser smartphones.

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Both devices run Android Nougat, with the S41 having a 5000 mAh battery and the S31 a 4000 mAh one. Both also incorporate FLIR thermal sensors that can visually measure temperature, a boon to contractors. Both devices are more affordable than the CAT S60, the company’s range-topping ultra-rugged smartphone. With the S31 and S41, CAT now offers six very tough smartphones designed for a variety of environments.

Robots – The Miele Scout RX2 is a Robot You Control

IFA isn’t just about smartphones, tablets and wearables. As Europe’s largest consumer electronics show, it is the place for consumers to see the latest and most advanced devices, including household robots. From German appliance manufacturer Miele, IFA offered the chance to unveil its new Scout RX2 robot vacuum cleaner. The robot is more advanced than other robotic home cleaners, with twin cameras that give it 3D vision. Being  able to see in stereo gives the robot depth perception, allowing it to navigate and avoid bumping into objects as it cleans the floors. It also comes with infrared sensors that promise to allow it to dodge being stepped on and to return to course if it’s knocked from its path while avoiding rolling over drops (i.e. running off the stairs).

Miele Scout RX2

The Miele Scout RX2 can also connect to a smartphone app, allowing users to quickly map where it will clean. And for those wanting to take a more “hands on” approach, the app lets users steer the robot vacuum manually.
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