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 purchasing a new smartwatch? The second half of 2022 will bring new Wear OS smartwatches, with the major ones being Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 5 series and Google’s first smartwatch, the Pixel Watch.
Both Samsung and Google’s smartwatches will be the flagbearers for Wear OS, but they won’t be powered by Qualcomm chips. Instead, they will rely on Samsung’s Exynos chipsets. It is believed that the Galaxy Watch 5 will use the Exynos W920, the same one 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.
The official Snapdragon account posted a short video teaser on Twitter last week for a new processor that’s coming soon. While no details of the new chip were provided, it is strongly believed to be the next generation Snapdragon Wear chipset for smartwatches, expected to launch as the Snapdragon Wear 5100. Back in February 2022, details of the processor leaked alongside those of a more powerful variant called the Snapdragon Wear 5100+. The upcoming SoCs are expected to be successors to the 2020 Snapdragon Wear 4100 and Snapdragon Wear 4100+.
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 inside the Pixel Watch, thanks to its much smaller 4nm node size which should translate to better power efficiency. It should also be able to hold its own against the Galaxy Watch 5’s Exynos W920 which is built on a larger 5nm node but has more powerful CPU cores.
Although Qualcomm’s teaser says the new chip(s) is “coming soon,” which could mean a launch in a few weeks, any 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 the Mobvoi’s TicWatch Pro 3 launched. The Snapdragon Wear 5100 series is already arriving later than its predecessor, and even if it is announced this July, it might still take months before the first smartwatch powered by the chip hits the market.
Going by the three-month interval between the launch of the Snapdragon Wear 4100 and when it hit the market, the first Snapdragon Wear 5100 smartwatch might not be available until October at the earliest. By that time, the Galaxy Watch 5 should already be available for purchase, following its expected release in August. It is also possible that the Pixel Watch would have been (more formerly) announced by then, 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 terrible idea considering 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 who is keen on getting the best smartwatch available. With reports of the Galaxy Watch 5 costing more, and the possibility of the Pixel Watch focusing more on Pixel phones with exclusive features, waiting for alternatives smartwatches powered by Qualcomm is probably a sensible decision.