Pretty soon, Wear OS 3 smartwatches might be unstoppable. Qualcomm just announced an upgraded wearable chipset that promises a major breakthrough for smartwatch battery life.
Called the Snapdragon W5+ and W5, the next evolution of the Snapdragon 4100+ found in a number of the best smartwatches for Android, this chipset touts 50% lower power. While it also claims twice as much performance and features from before, extended battery life appears to be the biggest priority.
Many of the overall best smartwatches struggle to last more than a day or two due to the amount of computing jammed into such small devices. Despite display updates and other annual improvements, the likes of the Apple Watch Series 7 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 still require a daily charge.
Of course, the best Fitbit watches and best Garmin watches can last several days, but both brands have a stronger emphasis on fitness-tracking than general connectivity. Qualcomm’s previous chipsets have been found in Fossil and Mobvoi watches, which are perhaps more lifestyle-driven smartwatch options.
This new chipset, which consists of a “4nm-based system-on-chip and 22nm-based highly integrated always-on co-processor,” is already confirmed to arrive inside future Oppo and Mobvoi watches. The Oppo Watch 3 series is launching in August, and though we don’t have a specified timeframe for the next TicWatch, rumors say it’s coming soon.
But as Qualcomm works with Google on these chips for upcoming Wear OS devices, we of course wonder what this could also mean for Google’s debut smartwatch.
Snapdragon W5+ — what it could mean for Pixel Watch
"With the Snapdragon W5+ platform, we're excited for what's possible in bringing new levels of performance, capability and battery life to Wear OS smartwatches,” said Bjorn Kilburn, GM and Senior Director of Wear OS at Google as part of Qualcomm’s announcement.
Could this indicate excitement for what the Snapdragon W5+ will offer for the Google Pixel Watch? Of course, the Pixel Watch isn’t referenced as part of the Snapdragon W5+ launch, but we know the smartwatch is coming sometime this fall alongside the Google Pixel 7 series.
Though this is simply speculation, it seems possible for the W5+ to power the Pixel Watch. Unless Google is planning a version of the Tensor chip for its first smartwatch, Qualcomm’s newest platform for Wear OS devices would make sense.
Not only that, if the emphasis on battery life actually makes W5+ smartwatches last long, the Pixel Watch could arrive to the market with a major advantage over its competitors. The chip’s ultra-low power Bluetooth 5.3 architecture and low power islands for Wi-Fi, GNSS and audio should limit the managed connectivity demands. Meanwhile, low power states such as 'Deep Sleep' and 'Hibernate' may keep the W5+ smartwatches from losing juice when they're not in use.
These all sound like things we'd want to see the Google Pixel Watch. As a newcomer facing brands that have been making their own smartwatches for several years, the Pixel Watch will need a trick up its sleeve. The Snapdragon W5+ could be just that.