Qualcomm’s next-gen Snapdragon Wear chip is inching closer to release, and more details have now surfaced, among which is that the official name will be Snapdragon W5 Gen 1. The last time Qualcomm announced new chips for smartwatches was in 2020, and before then, it was in 2018. This puts the interval between new chipsets for wearables from the American company at two years.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear chips have generally been referred to as one of the weaknesses of Wear OS. They have also been considered inferior to chipsets from Apple and Samsung, the two leading brands in the smartwatch market. However, that appears to be changing with its upcoming chipsets that boast big upgrades that give it a fighting chance against the competition.
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Details of the new Snapdragon W5 Gen 1 series were posted on Twitter by Evan Blass (@evleaks), and they reveal all of the key info. From the leak, it has been revealed Qualcomm is switching to a similar naming scheme it uses for its mobile processors. In addition, there will be two chipsets — the Snapdragon W5 Gen 1 and the more powerful Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1. Both are 4nm processors with Cortex-A53 cores, an A702 GPU clocked at 1GHz, and support for LPDDR4 RAM. They also feature low-power Bluetooth 5.3 and deep sleep and hibernate power states.
A comparison of the more powerful Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1 and its predecessor, the Snapdragon Wear 4100+, shows the upgrades Qualcomm has made. The new chip will have a co-processor like its predecessor but one that’s built on a smaller 22nm node. This co-processor will have a 250MHz clock speed and its own GPU. In addition to this is a machine learning core, the U55. Unlike the Snapdragon Wear 4100+, the Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1 will also have an integrated speaker, Wi-Fi, and GNSS (dual-frequency).
Qualcomm claims these features translate into a chip that’s 2x faster in terms of performance, a 50 percent increase in terms of power efficiency, and thus longer battery life when compared to the last generation chip. It is also 30 percent smaller in terms of size, which means smartwatches that come with the new chipset should have more space for a bigger battery or have a smaller and thinner form factor. It is still unknown when the Snapdragon W5 Gen 1 series will be officially announced, but the leaked press materials have revealed some early adopters. The leaked images reveal that Mobvoi and Oppo will be among the first set of customers that will launch smartwatches powered by the new chipsets. Mobvoi shouldn’t be surprising since its TicWatch Pro 3 watch was the first Snapdragon Wear 4100-powered smartwatch in 2020. So fans of the brand can expect the TicWatch Pro 4 to showcase Qualcomm’s new chip. Oppo is also expected to launch the Oppo Watch 3 and should cater to those who want Wear OS smartwatches with a square dial like that of the Apple Watch. These watches should either be smaller than their predecessors or boast significantly better battery life.
Furthermore, while Qualcomm’s chipsets have generally always appeared in Wear OS smartwatches, they can also be used with other operating systems. This compatibility will extend to the Snapdragon W5 Gen 1, which will work with Android devices and those running Free RTOS, the operating system found in smartwatches such as the OnePlus Watch. However, it remains to be seen which non-Wear OS smartwatch will be the first to launch with the new chips.