Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 4100 promises faster Wear OS smartwatches

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Qualcomm is saying two new Wear OS processors at this time, the Snapdragon Wear 4100 Plus and the Snapdragon Wear 4100, the primary main updates to its smartwatch platform since 2018. Qualcomm claims the brand new chips can have vastly improved velocity, with a “significantly faster new processor,” and large jumps in efficiency for the GPU, reminiscence, digicam, and general battery life.

They’re large guarantees, however put merely, Google’s Wear OS badly wants this type of {hardware} overhaul. The final main revision to the Snapdragon Wear lineup, the Snapdragon Wear 3100, was a minor replace to 2016’s Snapdragon 2100. In reality, provided that the 2100 and 3100 have the very same primary processor, the debut of the 4100 marks the primary concrete velocity enhancements for Wear OS in about 4 years.

The largest modifications are within the processor, which is leaping from a 28nm course of to a 12nm one, with 4 A53 CPU cores clocked at 1.7GHz changing the 3100’s A7 cores (at simply 1.1GHz), which Qualcomm says ought to ship greater than 85 % quicker efficiency. The GPU is now Adreno A504 (as much as two and a half instances quicker than the 3100), together with quicker reminiscence.

Qualcomm is taking a barely totally different strategy with the 4100 line, although. It’s really delivery two SKUs to builders. The flagship mannequin is the Snapdragon 4100 Plus, which (just like the 3100 earlier than it) is a hybrid platform that options the principle SDM429w SoC, together with an up to date model of the always-on QCC1110 co-processor that it launched with the 3100. But for builders that don’t need or want to supply always-on options, Qualcomm may also supply a typical Snapdragon Wear 4100 mannequin, which simply gives the SDM429w SoC.

For the Snapdragon 4100 Plus, although, the QCC1110 co-processor — which handles the ambient show mode frequent to most trendy smartwatches — can also be getting some enhancements. Those embody the flexibility to show vastly extra colours — as many as 64,000, up from the 16 colours that the 3100 may present — in addition to help for brand new options when in “watch mode” like step monitoring, steady heart-rate monitoring, alarms, haptic suggestions, and extra (which beforehand needed to depend on the principle processor).

The shift to the brand new 12nm CPU structure (together with different, extra technical enhancements) additionally implies that watches with a Snapdragon 4100 ought to see as much as 25 % higher battery life.

Qualcomm is already delivery its Wear 4100 and 4100 Plus chipsets to {hardware} producers, with the primary units set to reach within the coming months. Mobvoi has already introduced that it’s engaged on a brand new TicWatch mannequin that can function the brand new chips, and Xiaotiancai is engaged on a kid-friendly smartwatch powered by the Wear 4100, too.

On paper, not less than, these are the types of massive enhancements that Qualcomm wanted to make to assist enhance the struggling Wear OS {hardware} ecosystem (which is nearly fully reliant on Qualcomm’s platform at this level) again into the aggressive recreation.

But the smartwatch world is a really totally different place now than it was in 2016, when the final main enhancements to Qualcomm’s processor arrived, and even 2018. Wear OS is basically dominated by style manufacturers like Fossil, however all the smartwatch ecosystem itself is dominated by Samsung’s Gear line and the Apple Watch.

Google’s personal ambitions to make a flagship smartwatch are up within the air. The firm’s current announcement that it intends to buy Fitbit for $2.1 billion could also be a manner for it to beef up its {hardware} division to make higher Wear OS watches — or it could be for one thing else fully.

After years of lackluster {hardware} and a seemingly apathetic Google in terms of growing new Wear OS software program options, the query is whether or not Qualcomm’s new chip is simply too late for Google’s smartwatch experiment.