Qualcomm’s New Chips For Wearables Promise 2x Higher Performance And 50% Better Battery life

Last week, Qualcomm shared a cryptic teaser hinting at a new chip for Wear OS smartwatches. Today, the company has officially announced the new Snapdragon W5 Plus Gen 1 and Snapdragon W5 Gen 1 chips for wearables. Qualcomm claims that its latest SoCs for next-gen wearables focus on extending battery life, improving performance, decreasing the footprint, and offering more features.

Talking about the new chipsets, Pankaj Kedia, Global Business Head for Qualcomm’s Smart Wearables and Shareables segments, said, “The wearables industry continues to grow and present opportunities across multiple segments at an unprecedented pace. The new wearable platforms — Snapdragon W5+ and Snapdragon W5 — represent our most advanced leap yet. Purpose-built for next generation wearables, these platforms address the most pressing consumer needs by delivering ultra-low power, breakthrough performance, and highly integrated packaging. Additionally, we extend our proven hybrid architecture with new low power innovations such as Deep Sleep and Hibernate states delighting consumers with premium user experiences while extending battery life.”

The new Qualcomm Snapdragon W5 Plus Gen 1 SoC for wearables is built on a 4nm manufacturing process, which is a great leap forward compared to the 12nm process used for the older Snapdragon Wear 4100+. The chip also packs a 22nm-based always-on co-processor, which is likely more power efficient than the 28nm-based always-on co-processor found on the older chip. Thanks to this new architecture, Qualcomm claims that the Snapdragon W5 Plus Gen 1 offers 50% longer battery life and 2x higher performance than the Snapdragon Wear 4100+ while having a 30% smaller footprint.

Furthermore, the Snapdragon W5 Plus Gen 1 incorporates a new ultra-low power Bluetooth 5.3 architecture, low power islands for Wi-Fi, GNSS, and audio, and low power states such as Deep Sleep and Hibernate. But that’s not all. Qualcomm claims that the new chip can unlock a host of new interactive experiences like 3D watch faces, 3D maps and navigation, real-time image recognition, 2-way smart calling, smart device controls, and more. The company further adds that the chip is also capable of handling new ultra-low power ambient experiences, like keyword detection, low power notifications, improved always-on display functionality, etc.

As far as the raw specifications are concerned, the Snapdragon W5 Plus Gen 1 packs four Arm Cortex-A53 cores paired with a Cortex-M55 core for AI/ML tasks. While we would’ve liked Qualcomm to offer Cortex-A55 or Cortex-A510 cores on the new chip for even better performance and power efficiency, we believe that the updated architecture should give the Snapdragon W5 Plus Gen 1 a significant edge over the Snapdragon Wear 4100+, even though both chips feature Cortex-A53 cores. For graphically demanding tasks, the Snapdragon W5 Plus Gen 1 features an Adreno 702 GPU clocked at 1GHz. It, too, is a significant improvement over the 320MHz Adreno 504 GPU found on the Snapdragon Wear 4100+.

At the moment, Qualcomm has not shared any details about the regular Snapdragon W5 Gen 1 chip. Based on the differences between the Snapdragon Wear 4100 and Snapdragon Wear 4100+, we suspect that the regular variant could essentially be the same chip without a couple of features. For instance, Qualcomm offered a co-processor on the Snapdragon Wear 4100+, but the regular model did not get one.


Oppo and Mobvoi will be the first OEMs to use the new chipsets

Qualcomm has further revealed that Oppo and Mobvoi will be the first manufacturers to offer the new Snapdragon W5 Plus Gen 1 and Snapdragon W5 Gen 1 on next-gen smartwatches. The regular variant will make its way to the market with the Oppo Watch 3 series next month, while Mobvoi will use the Snapdragon W5 Plus

Qualcomm has also announced two reference designs from Compal and Pegatron to showcase the capabilities of the new platform. OEMs will be able to use these designs to develop their own products featuring the latest chipsets.

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