ZTE’s new flagship Axon 9 Pro features a notch, of course

ZTE can’t resist its notch envy. The company introduced its newest flagship phone — the Axon 9 Pro — at IFA in Berlin today, and, of course, it features a notch along with a bezel at the bottom of the display. It also features vertically aligned dual, rear-facing cameras, a la the iPhone X. The phone looks like a 2018 flagship. Here’s the spec rundown:

  • Snapdragon 845 processor
  • 6.21-inch AMOLED display with 18.7:9 aspect ratio
  • 4,000mAh battery
  • 12-megapixel and 20-megapixel camera sensors in back and 20-megapixel camera sensor in front
  • 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage
  • Android 8.1 Oreo OS
  • USB-C connector

This device is more of an update to the Axon 7 from 2016 as opposed to last year’s Axon M, which folded in half. It’s unclear if ZTE plans to return to the Axon M, or if that was just a random one-off experiment. This phone won’t be coming to the States, but it’ll cost €649 when it goes on sale in September in Europe.

As an aside, ZTE also announced its plans for 5G devices and how it plans to design the phones to account for antenna placement, additional power consumption, and new hardware. Right now, this doesn’t really mean anything for us other than to expect a 5G device from ZTE in the future, possibly in the second half of 2019, according to the company.

The LG G7 One is an Android One flagship without the LG software

LG has announced the G7 One, its first Android One phone. It’s a high-end device by the standards of Google’s stock Android program, running on a Snapdragon 835 processor with a 6.1-inch 1440p notched “super bright” display and Boombox speaker taken from the G7 ThinQ, plus the headphone jack with quad DAC found in all the company’s recent flagships.

The G7 One doesn’t have a dual camera setup, however — just one 16-megapixel f/1.6 shooter on the back and an 8-megapixel f/1.9 selfie camera on the front. It’s also limited to 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, though it does have a microSD card slot. The battery is 3,000mAh. It’s unclear whether the haptics are good.

LG says the G7 One will be offered at an “exceptional price,” but we don’t know what that means yet; we’ve reached out for more info. An LG phone with solid specs and no LG software is a pretty intriguing proposition, however — the G7 ThinQ has actually won some fans among Verge staff, myself and Dan included, but the company’s OS skins have never been its strong point.

LG is also announcing the G7 Fit, a similar but presumably cheaper device with a Snapdragon 821 processor, a slower camera, and LG’s own software atop Android 8.1 Oreo. LG says it’s “designed to bridge the gap between mid-range and flagship models.”

These phones will be shown off at IFA 2018 in Berlin this week — we’ll be on the ground and will check them out in person, so stay tuned for more.

IFA 2018: what to expect from the big tech expo in Berlin

Aside from CES, IFA is probably the biggest tech show in the world, and tons of companies — from Samsung to Sony to Huawei to Dell to Lenovo — will be heading to Berlin to show off their latest gear, gadgets, and gizmos.

The Verge will be on the ground, bringing you all the latest news as it happens. Here’s what to expect:

Samsung

The Galaxy Note 9 and Galaxy Watch may have already launched, but that doesn’t mean Samsung won’t announce any news at IFA. The company is already rumored to show off an 8K QLED TV at the show, and we’ll hopefully get a better look at the recently announced Bixby speaker.

In recent years, Samsung has used IFA to launch fitness wearables and wireless earbuds, so we could see another round of updated devices in those categories again. But really, Samsung doesn’t need to do much, and it probably won’t. IFA is an opportunity to focus on some of its lower-profile gadgets. But if anyone is going to surprise the show with a completely unexpected gadget, it’ll probably be Samsung.

BlackBerry

Yes, BlackBerry is still alive and kicking in 2018, albeit largely under the corporate auspices of TCL, which has made most “BlackBerry” phones in the past couple years.

BlackBerry is reportedly showing up with a cheaper version of the Key2, called the Key2 LE. The new model is supposed to cut back on the processor, battery, and RAM (from a Snapdragon 660 to a 636, 6GB of RAM to 4GB, and a 3,500mAh battery to 3,000mAh) with a lower price to match.

Will that garner much love at the show? Probably not. The Key2 was already a disappointment, so a worse version of it can’t be anything too special unless BlackBerry dramatically cuts the price. Even then, it’ll be facing a field of high-spec budget phones that’ll appeal more to many shoppers. BlackBerry and TCL are still hoping the keyboard will be enough of a draw. But after a decade of smartphones and on-screen typing, it hasn’t yet proved to be enough.


Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Sony

Sony’s XZ2 line of smartphones was announced just six months ago, but word has it that the company is already planning to replace them with an updated line called the XZ3. An initial leak shows the main phone looking nearly identical, so the update may be more of a spec bump than a brand-new series of devices.

This rapid turnaround isn’t new for Sony, which has spent the last few years launching lightly tweaked versions of its phones every six months with little success to show for it. Will the XZ3 be enough to get Sony out of its smartphone rut? Probably not, but that hasn’t stopped the company before.

On the more optimistic side of things, there’s the rest of Sony’s expensive music players, strange robots, and other oddities that could make an appearance, too.

Dell

Dell’s time at IFA usually means new laptops, and this year probably won’t be an exception. Expect the usual bump in specs for Dell’s fall PC lineup. It might not be the most exciting update, but it’s likely welcome to anyone looking to buy a computer this fall.

This year marks Dell’s big return to IFA after a more subdued few years, coinciding with the company’s upcoming return to the public market. Dell will likely use the time to show the world — and, more specifically, investors — that it can offer a strong and compelling lineup across its portfolio, and maybe even innovate in new categories that the company has yet to enter, like Microsoft’s still-nascent Windows 10 on ARM platform.


Image: Motorola

Lenovo / Motorola

Expect some minor updates to Lenovo’s laptops for the most part, along with a new ThinkPad or two if the company sticks to its usual patterns. As for Motorola, it already launched the Z3 earlier in August, but there’s a chance we’ll get to see more of the heavily iPhone X-inspired Motorola P30. Motorola used IFA to launch the X4 last year, and it seems like this notched phone could be what takes its place this year. But the phone is a clear copycat and was already announced earlier this month in China, which has to make you wonder how much success Motorola is hoping to find internationally.

Huawei

Huawei’s P20 Pro was one of the most impressive flagship phones in years. The question now is: what next? The Chinese phone company is expected to show off the upcoming Mate 20 line, including a Mate 20 Pro that could give the P20 Pro a run for its money.

Huawei positions its P-series phones for younger consumers who put a bigger focus on cameras and entertainment, while the Mate line is meant for serious “business” users, with an emphasis on long battery life and productivity. Last year’s impressive Mate 10 Pro was held back by frustrating software, so eyes will be on not just the specs, but the experience.

LG

LG is supposedly working on its new V40 flagship phone, which is rumored to escalate the camera arms race by offering a total of five cameras (three rear, two front). The company has also started teasing an exoskeleton robot to help lift heavy objects, which should be interesting to see in person. And who knows? Maybe this will be the year that a ThinQ AI-equipped washing machine takes off.

Nokia

Like BlackBerry, the Nokia phone business has largely been operated by another company for the last few years. In this case, that’s HMD Global, which has done a surprisingly good job of drumming up interest in Nokia-branded Android phones.

It isn’t particularly clear what Nokia phones we’ll see at IFA, but rumors have been floating around about a new high-end model, supposedly called the Nokia 9, which is expected to have a Snapdragon 845 and other top-of-the-line specs. That isn’t the kind of phone that seems to be doing the best inside the modern Nokia lineup. The brand seems to excel at lower-cost devices with solid specs and experiences. But HMD Global has been building more expensive phones, so it’s certainly not out of the question.

HTC

HTC is teasing “something U” for IFA, which leaks indicate is probably the U12 Life. Much like the U11 Life that HTC unveiled last year, the U12 Life is expected to be a cheaper, midrange version of the company’s U12 Plus smartphone.

If the leaks are to be believed, that translates to a 6-inch, 18:9 display (complete with a notched bezel that’s become the standard for 2018), a Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor, 64GB of storage, and 4GB RAM, along with a dual rear camera setup. It seems like a worthy upgrade to the U11 Life, although hopefully HTC left off the solid-state buttons from its larger sibling in the process.

The rest

There are tons more companies at IFA. Fossil will probably have more Android Wear watches, Misfit will likely have new fitness trackers, and Casio is said to be showing up with a new wearable, too. Plus, Asus and Acer will likely round out the laptop factions with new hardware featuring Intel’s latest chips. And that’s not counting any of the surprises that may pop up in Berlin this week from other companies.

Expect a lot of heavy gadget news in the days ahead before the multiday show officially kicks off on Friday.