It’s no secret that Google’s smartwatch platform hasn’t had a lot of recent success. That’s partly why the company decided to re-brand the platform to Wear OS and is offering smarter Google Assistant features. But better software support is only one side of the equation. The hardware inside of Android-based smartwatches hasn’t seen much innovation, which gives a considerable advantage to competitors like Samsung’s Gear smartwatches (powered by Tizen) and Apple Watches. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 2100 system-on-chip, which was announced in 2016 and is the most common SoC on Wear OS smartwatches, is itself a watch-optimized version of the 5-year old Snapdragon 400 budget SoC built on a 28nm process. But finally, it seems that Qualcomm is gearing up for a refresh of its smartwatch chipset.
Using older, outdated hardware is one of the main reasons why Wear OS smartwatches are falling behind the competition. Samsung’s Gear series offers significantly better battery life than most of its Wear OS competition, and that’s thanks to its superior SoC. Thus, to stay competitive in the smartwatch space, Qualcomm is teasing the release of another smartwatch chipset. The next-generation smartwatch chipset from Qualcomm will be built from the ground up with a focus on smartwatches to ensure an optimal experience for smartwatch users. We’re also promised smaller smartwatches: Since the new SoCs will be built using modern processes, the result will be smaller chipsets which allows smartwatch makers to make better use of space.
We’re also being promised longer battery lives since the transition to smaller manufacturing processes should lead to a reduction in energy consumption. Unfortunately, exact details of this upcoming chipset are sparse; we won’t learn more for a few more months. The new smartwatch chipset will be announced in full sometime during the fall when we’ll also hear about smartwatches powered by these upcoming SoCs. A decent system-on-chip could put Wear OS smartwatches back on the map if everything goes according to plan.