9 important trends at IFA that will shape the tech world this holiday season

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Mid-range phones cost too much

We haven’t seen many flagship phones at IFA this year, but there have been some interesting tablets. The smartphone field has been distinctly mid-range; the specs war may be ending. Most smartphones have surpassed the point of “good enough” performance.

Despite the lack of cutting edge processing power, the trend of premium metallic finishes shows no signs of abating and, we’ve lost count of the number of times a chamfered edge was described as diamond-cut. The companies behind this phones obviously want them to be perceived as affordable flagships with premium builds (like an iPhone or Galaxy). But they just as often feel like adequate phones that cost too much. While it’s good to see quality increase across the board, it’s becoming more difficult to find the true bargains.

The smartwatch has come full circle

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The watch has come full circle (literally), and rectangular smartwatches are out. Apart from the Apple Watch, that is – and its square shape is starting to look, well, square.

Companies like Samsung and Asus started their smartwatch journey with rectangular devices a few years ago, but they’ve since made the shift to a more traditional wrist-piece. Case in point? The Asus ZenWatch 3, Asus’ first flagship watch with a circular design. Expect to see more circular watches as we head into the holiday season — and don’t expect to see many (or any) rectangular ones.

Intel’s 7th-gen chips are inspiring new laptops

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Core, Intel’s main line of processors, is now on its seventh generation. The first examples of the new hardware arrived at IFA 2016, and they are paving the way for an estimated 250 designs that are scheduled for release before the end of the year.

Those designs are targeting the back-to-school, and then holiday, buying seasons. Because Intel is launching 7th-gen mobile dual-core chips first, you’ll see new designs focused there, and in particular in the high-end market. The next few months will be a good time to buy a laptop.

Every laptop is a 2-in-1

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Acer’s headline PC at IFA 2016 was the Spin 7, the thinnest 2-in-1 yet produced. But it wasn’t alone. The company announced a full line of Spin devices ranging from the budget Spin 1 up to the $1,200 Spin 7. Lenovo, too, announced affordable and attractive 2-in-1s, like the $550 Yoga Book with Windows and the $600 Miix 510. In fact, every PC announced by Lenovo was a 2-in-1.

It’s not clear that users demand 2-in-1s, but it’s also not clear that demand matters. As the technologies that power the category become easier to produce, and more affordable, manufacturers are finding new value in multi-use PCs. Like the ultrabook before it, the 2-in-1 is likely to become more or less standard. You’ll likely find yourself buying one, whether you want a 2-in-1 or not.

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