This is a follow up to our previous article.
Qualcomm’s chips have been powering Wear OS wearables for a while, however, performance has always remained a question mark. The snapdragon chips used in these watches degraded the performance leading to poor customer experience. Today, Qualcomm announced the launch of two new chips namely the Snapdragon W5 and the Snapdragon W5 Plus.
The W5 Plus as the name suggests will be for higher end handhelds whereas the cut down variant, the W5 will be used in children’s smartwatches, fitness trackers etc. In the words of Pankaj Kedia who is Qualcomm’s global head of smart wearables, both of these chips are specifically meant for handheld devices.
The W5 Plus chip will use the more efficient 4nm process node as compared to the 12nm chip used by the old Snapdragon Wear 4100 Plus. For reference purposes, Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 uses a chip based on the 5nm process node and the Apple Watch Series 7 uses a 7nm chip.
A decrease in the chip size doesn’t directly lead to better performance, however, the main point here is that the watches featuring Qualcomm’s newer chip will be far more efficient than before.
This new chip features an always-on coprocessor which powers some of the features which were previously managed by the actual SoC such as audio, keyword detection etc. Various other features such as heart-beat tracking are looked after by the coprocessor which happens to be powered by AI so it will be interesting to see what sort possibilities can open up when these Snapdragon chips are launched.
Kedia also said that the increased efficiency will lead to an increment of 50% in battery life and the smaller SoC will allow for smaller and sleeker watch designs suiting the needs of those with thinner wrists.
Oppo recently announced that its watches based on the W5 SoC are yet to launch sometime in August whereas Mobvoi has announced that its new watches will use the W5 Plus chip and will launch this fall.
This is a major uplift as compared to previous handheld SoCs manufactured by Qualcomm as the Snapdragon Wear 3100 was announced sometime in 2018, but it was not adopted in wearable smart watches till 2019. Making matters worse for Qualcomm, the Snapdragon Wear 4100 was announced in 2020 but even till this day only a few watches featuring this chip are available in the market.
Watch OS is an Operating System developed by Google for smart watches. Most of these watches feature a Samsung chipset or are branded under Samsung. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is the only watch as of now that features the Watch OS 3. Unfortunately, the consumer market really has no idea how the new Snapdragon Wear 5 chip will perform on the Watch OS 3 until Oppo and Mobvoi release their new watches.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Summit To Start on November 15
Initially, it was thought that Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Summit was planned for November 14. But, according to the latest announcements on their website the event is now said to take place on November 15 and end on November 17. Additionally, the W5 and W5 Plus chips will use TSMC’s 4nm technology as per latest rumours, however, Qualcomm may look towards Samsung’s 3nm process if production issues arise from TSMC’s side.