Qualcomm today announce the Snapdragon Wear 3100 Platform.
Who? What? Why do I care?
You’ve probably never heard of Qualcomm or at least never knew what they did. They do a lot of things, one of which is providing the processing power behind the current crop of WearOS watches – both WearOS sports watches and others.
All the current crop of WearOS watches are somewhat limited. Don’t get me wrong some are great, like the Polar M600 for sport and the LG Watch too. But they are limited and one of the biggest limitations is battery life.
Non-WearOS, sports watches have some leeway to just throw a larger battery at their solution. A larger battery should last longer. For a smartwatch with the need for a certain aesthetic appeal that is not the solution – think of the relatively dainty Apple Watch.
Even Suunto moved to one of the Ultra low power Sony GNSS/GPS chip recently, which I presume is mostly to save the battery and enable a working battery life to meet the needs of many Ultra runners. I strongly suspect (aka “I know for sure”) that others are following Suunto’s lead with Sony in the sports realm.
But a chip like the one from Sony is just a small part of the overall electronics package.
It looks like Qualcomm will be powering the next generation of WearOS watches of all types.
What Qualcomm is offering for the next generation of WearOS watches seems clever on the surface. Clever because it has to appeal to different types of WearOS watch manufacturer
So there are 3 modes: Sports Mode (GPS+oHR for up to 15 hours); Watch Mode (a timekeeper for up to a week); and Enhanced Ambient Mode which is for fashion watches where colours and brightness are in need. The last mode will probably be renamed battery-eating mode, but that’s another story for another day.
The platform is available as three variants targeting: Bluetooth and Wi-Fi tethered smartwatches; GPS-based tethered smartwatches; and 4G LTE connected smartwatches.
Again the interest here for sports watches comes with the 4G LTE side of things where many more sports-related features will just be made so much easier with onboard access to the internet via a cellular connection. This will also probably be known as the OTHER battery-eating mode. We shall see.
These are being produced and shipped NOW. So the new crop of WearOS watches are imminent. ie Don’t buy one yet, don’t buy one of the ones released before September 2018.
I’ll include the specs for those of you interested in th eGPS side of things.
|CELLULAR MODEM||Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ X5 LTE modem|
|CPU||Quad ARM Cortex A7|
|GPU||Qualcomm® Adreno™ 304 GPU|
|DISPLAY||Qualcomm® Adreno™ 304 GPU|
|WI-FI||WCN3620||Low Power Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, optimized for wearables|
|Next generation NFC from NXP|
|OPERATING SYSTEM||Wear OS|