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.
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.
- Next: Wear OS vs. watch OS — which software will win?