Snapdragon Wear 5 Plus boosts Wear OS 3 watches
The great majority of current Wear OS watches are powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear processors, but the platform itself has never truly delivered. So far, Snapdragon Wear processors have been recycled mobile processor designs based on old technology, which is a major reason why Wear OS watches have been so disappointing.
Qualcomm, on the other hand, is offering a revamped wearables platform named Snapdragon W5 Plus and W5. And it seems like Qualcomm is serious this time.
Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 5 Plus
To begin, the Snapdragon Wear branding is being phased out. That may seem insignificant, yet it serves as a metaphorical clean slate. Instead, the new W5 Plus and W5 CPUs will be absorbed into the larger Snapdragon family.
The W5 Plus is intended for luxury smartwatches, while the W5 is intended for basic devices like as kids’ smartwatches, fitness trackers, and corporate devices. Both processors, according to Qualcomm’s global director of smart wearables, Pankaj Kedia, are designed exclusively for wearable devices. In other words, they are not repurposed smartphone chips.
In terms of specifications, the platform retains the hybrid architecture seen in the Snapdragon Wear 3100 and 4100 CPUs. The primary CPU handles interactive activities such as phone clone, while an always-on coprocessor conserves battery life. Qualcomm is shrinking the core chip from 12nm to 4nm and the coprocessor from 28nm to 22nm for the W5 Plus.
The always-on coprocessor powers functionalities that were previously handled by the main SoC on the W5 Plus platform. They offer audio, keyword recognition for digital assistants, and low-power Bluetooth 5.3 alerts. Meanwhile, the coprocessor handles health tracking functions such as monitoring sleep and heart rate.
The primary CPU is mostly utilized for interactive functions like as calling, 3D watchfaces and animation, and GPS navigation. According to Qualcomm’s press announcement, the result is 50% more battery life, twice the performance, and a 30% decrease in size over the 4100 platform. According to insiders, the W5 Plus platform should be capable of providing multi-day battery life in certain circumstances, something a Wear OS watch has yet to do. Furthermore, Bluetooth watches with an always-on display and a 300mAh battery will gain around 15 hours of battery life. Because these figures are based on Qualcomm’s internal research, it’s hard to determine how they’ll transfer to, say, a Fossil wristwatch.
Furthermore, the increased power efficiency and reduced chip size will allow manufacturers to produce smaller, more streamlined timepieces. If accurate, this is great news for those with tiny wrists. Companies that offer more complex features prefer to include larger batteries to compensate for the higher power consumption. True, the size of smartwatches has gradually but steadily expanded over the years. A bigger Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, for example, is almost certainly on the way.
But probably the most significant difference is that the first Snapdragon W5-powered watches will be available almost immediately. Oppo claims it would be the first to debut a watch on the W5 platform in August, with the Oppo Watch 3. Meanwhile, Mobvoi claims its next TicWatch will ship with the W5 Plus processor this autumn.
The shift to Wear OS 3 was always going to be difficult, but it seems like the parts are beginning to fall into place. Samsung and Google started addressing the software side of the question last year by developing a unified software platform. Qualcomm seems to be following up with next-generation hardware. However, Qualcomm has already failed to deliver. Still, with the massive leap in process technology, the rebrand, and the shortened time to market, Qualcomm may finally get it right this time.