Pixel Watch could reportedly underwhelm with this four-year-old chipset

Google Pixel Watch
(Image credit: Google)

Following Google I/O, we now know that the long-standing rumors were correct and the Pixel Watch will be landing this year, in fall. But there are still plenty of known unknowns, including its unique selling points and what’s actually powering it.

9to5Google believes it has the answer to the latter, and it’s not good news. It’s long been rumored that the Pixel Watch will use a Samsung Exynos chip, but according to the site’s sources, it’s not the one you would expect. 

Rather than using the 5nm Exynos W920 chip which debuted in 2021’s Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, the Pixel Watch will apparently use the 10nm Exynos 9110, which first appeared on wrists in 2018’s original Galaxy Watch.

To be entirely fair to the Exynos 9110, its performance proved strong enough for Samsung to stick with it for three generations of Galaxy Watch, only upgrading to the Exynos W920 last year with the promise of 1.25x faster processing and 8.8x smoother graphical performance

9to5Google speculates that the Pixel Watch’s embracing of the older chip may be a side effect of how long it's been in development. Rumors of a Pixel Watch have been kicking around for at least six years, and at one point in 2018 — less than a month after the Exynos 9110 debuted — talk of an imminent launch was so strong that Google specifically told us nothing was planned for that year.

Reasons to be optimistic?

While it’s never great to hear that upcoming hardware will use aging internals, there are reasons to be cautiously optimistic. The best smartwatches don’t necessarily need the latest and greatest internals to shine: unlike smartphones, their duties are comparatively light and speed should take a back seat to efficiency to ensure a watch goes at least a day without the dreaded low battery warning.

Unfortunately, we can’t infer much about the real-world stamina of the Pixel Watch from this announcement. While the Galaxy Watch’s 270mAh lasted an impressive three days with the same chipset, the use of Samsung’s Tizen OS means it’s not useful to make a direct comparison. Though you could argue that the considerably weaker battery life in the Wear OS 3-packing Galaxy Watch 4 is cause for concern, given that’s what the Pixel Watch will be using.

But ultimately it’s hard to be too critical of the Pixel Watch’s rumored use of old hardware until we know the price — something which Google has so far kept under wraps. 

It was also just reported that the Pixel Watch will be probably be similar to the Apple Watch — because they might have the same manufacturer.

If the Pixel Watch is a cheap and cheerful wearable, then few could object to the company cutting corners to help deliver an appealing price point. We’ll just have to wait and see what the company has up its sleeve when the device is fully revealed this fall.

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.