27 June 2022
As teased last week, Qualcomm has officially announced Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1 and Snapdragon W5 Gen 1 processors for wearables. The latest launch marks the rebranding of wearable processors same as we saw with smartphone chips. It is also the first time we are seeing dedicated chipsets for wearables instead of re-purposed mobile chipsets.
The Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1 chipset has been under development for three years and as per the announcement, it does seem to be worth the wait. It features the main processor built on the 4nm process and the co-processor built on the 22nm process. These are significant upgrades over the 12nm and 28nm processes used on the predecessor. It is based on Compal and Pegatron reference designs that will be beneficial for device makers.
Qualcomm says its new chipsets will deliver noteworthy improvements to the overall performance and battery consumption of wearables. It is claiming 2x "breakthrough" performance and richer features along with a 50% longer battery life of daily use. The W5+ is aimed at premium, high-end wearables and the W5 is aimed at affordable wearables and devices meant for kids.
These chipsets will enable features like Deep Sleep and Hibernate low power states. It will have Bluetooth 5.3 low power and low power islands. These are also 30% smaller and thinner which will result in a sleeker design for wearables. Qualcomm says there are 25 designs in the pipeline and we will get to see the first wearables from Oppo and Mobvoi.
All in all, it seems like we may finally get to see Wear OS smartwatches with performance and battery efficiency comparable to that of an Apple Watch or Samsung Galaxy wearable. It goes without saying that since all these claims are theoretical for the time being, we will have to wait for actual product releases to see how many of those actually turn out to be true.