A new Qualcomm chipset for Wear OS smartwatches is coming soon, and just in time to take on some major competition in the wearable space.
A recent teaser from Qualcomm hints at the arrival of a new Snapdragon Wear chipset for smartwatches, but should buyers wait for its launch before buying a new smartwatch? The second half of 2022 will bring new Wear OS smartwatches, with the main ones being Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 5 series and Google’s first smartwatch, the Pixel Watch.
Both Samsung and Google smartwatches will be the flagships for Wear OS, but they won’t be powered by Qualcomm chips. Instead, they rely on Samsung’s Exynos chipsets. The Galaxy Watch 5 is believed to use the Exynos W920, the same as in last year’s Galaxy Watch 4 series. In contrast, the Pixel Watch will use the Exynos 9110, the chipset that shipped with the Galaxy Watch released in 2018.
Snapdragon official account posted a short video teaser on Twitter last week for a new processor coming soon. While no details of the new chip have been provided, it is strongly believed to be the next-gen Snapdragon Wear chipset for smartwatches, expected to launch as the Snapdragon Wear 5100. Back in February 2022, details of the processor were leaked alongside those of a more powerful variant called Snapdragon Wear 5100+. The upcoming SoCs are expected to be successors to the 2020 Snapdragon Wear 4100 and Snapdragon Wear 4100+.
Qualcomm’s promising chipsets
The specifications of the Snapdragon Wear 5100 series seem promising as they bring significant upgrades, notably a jump from 12nm to 4nm and support for up to 4GB of RAM. The new chipset should be better than the 10nm Exynos 9110 in the Pixel Watch thanks to its much smaller 4nm node size, which should result in better power efficiency. It should also hold its own against the Galaxy Watch 5’s Exynos W920, which is based on a larger 5nm node but has more powerful CPU cores.
Although Qualcomm’s teaser states that the new chip(s) “soon,‘, which could mean a launch in a couple of weeks, a new chip is not expected to show up in a commercially available product until later in the year. For example, the Snapdragon Wear 4100 was announced on June 30, 2020, but didn’t appear in a smartwatch until late September 2020, when Mobvoi’s TicWatch Pro 3 was launched. The Snapdragon Wear 5100 series is already later than its predecessor, and even if it’s announced this July, it could still be months before the first smartwatch with the chip hits the market.
Given the three-month gap between the Snapdragon Wear 4100 launch and its launch, the first Snapdragon Wear 5100 smartwatch may not be available until October at the earliest. At this point, the Galaxy Watch 5 should already be available for purchase following its expected August release. It’s also possible that the Pixel Watch would have been announced by then (sooner), if Google sticks to its usual October schedule for its Pixel launch event.
Based on these predictions, waiting for the first Snapdragon Wear 5100 smartwatch isn’t a bad idea given the benefits Qualcomm’s chip is expected to bring. The competition would have only been available for a few weeks at best, which isn’t a long time for anyone interested in getting the best smartwatch available. With reports that the Galaxy Watch 5 will cost more and the possibility that the Pixel Watch will be more focused on Pixel phones with exclusive features, they await alternative smartwatches powered by Qualcomm is probably a sensible decision.
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