Wear OS 3 smartwatch eligibility — can you upgrade?

Fossil Gen 5 LTE review
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When shopping for a new Wear OS smartwatch, or waiting for the Google Pixel Watch to arrive this fall, you might check the specs for special features or battery life estimates. But there's another reason to read fine print before checkout. 

Google's unified Wear OS software— called Wear OS 3 — won't be compatible with smartwatches powered by a Snapdragon Wear 3100 chip or older. The aging chipset is found on a number of smartwatches currently available, including the Fossil Gen 5 LTE, Xiaomi Mi Watch and the Suunto 7, one of the best running watches

If you want to benefit from Wear OS 3, a revamped version of Google's wearable software that merged with Samsung's Tizen and Fitbit's fitness platform last year, steer clear of Snapdragon Wear 3100 smartwatches.

Wear OS 3 smartwatches

Instead, a select collection of Wear OS smartwatches will be eligible for Wear OS 3 when it rolls out to older devices in 2022. Any model running the Snapdragon Wear 4100 can elevate to the new software. The list of eligible Wear OS 3 smartwatches includes the Fossil Gen 6, Skagen Gen 6 Mobvoi's TicWatch Pro 3 and the TicWatch E3.

There might not be many Snapdragon Wear 4100 smartwatches out in the wild, but the offerings are expected to with future TicWatch devices. We could see a Fitbit watch with Wear OS eventually, and it's possible Google's first smartwatch is nearing debut.

Existing Snapdragon Wear 4100 smartwatch owners might not have an easy upgrade process. Google warns that updating will require a reboot to factory settings, which could cause disruptions to the user experience. 

Although the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 ships with Wear OS 3, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 and earlier Galaxy Watch models will stick to Tizen, with three years of software support.

Either way, think twice before buying a Snapdragon Wear 3100 smartwatch. You might see Amazon deals or other discounts on these devices as we get closer to Wear OS 3's official rollout. 

Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is the managing editor of social and video at Tom’s Guide. She covers smartwatches, TVs and audio devices, too. Kate appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account, which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her taking up a new sport, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef. 

  • Sazoku
    "You'll also get a preview of the updated Wear OS on the new Galaxy Watch next month."
    Was there an official announcement?