Qualcomm has launched two new Snapdragon Wear chips for the next generation of Wear OS smartwatches.
The 12nm Snapdragon Wear 4100 and Wear 4100+ are the successors to the company’s 28nm Wear 3100 chip, which was launched in 2018.
The company’s Wear CPUs are designed to deliver low-power, high-performance for smart wearables.
They are used in smartwatches which run on Google’s Wear OS, including models from Fossil, Tag Heuer, Suunto, and Xiaomi, and could soon be employed on Fitbit, which Google plans to acquire.
Qualcomm said the new chips offer much faster performance, improved display capabilities, lower battery consumption, and support for a built-in camera.
Both the Wear 4100 and 4100+ feature 12nm quad-core ARM Cortex A53 CPUs with up to 1.7GHz clock speed, paired with an Adreno 504 GPU and 750MHz LPDDR3 memory.
The new System-on-Chip (SoC) is designed to deliver 85% higher performance compared to the Snapdragon Wear 3100 platform for faster app launches, a more responsive user experience, and richer photo and video experiences, Qualcomm said.
It leverages 12nm low power process technology, dual DSPs for optimal workload partitioning, Qualcomm Sensor Assisted Positioning for Wearables, and Bluetooth 5.0 designed to reduce power consumption by more than 25% in order to extend battery life.
Notably, the platform offers support for a 16MP built-in camera, much better than any smartwatch camera available on the market today.
The chip will be able to support video capturing in 1080p at 30FPS.
For always-on smartwatch displays, the Wear 4100+ adds a co-processor that supports up to 64K colours and extends offload experiences to include continuous heart rate monitoring, faster tilt-to-wake responsiveness, steps, alarms, timers, and haptics.
Smartwatches with cameras
It remains to be seen if major manufacturers that use Qualcomm’s smartwatch chips will opt to include a camera in any of their models.
Smartwatches with cameras are not uncommon, but the functionality is not popular and has not featured in any premium smartwatches in recent years.
There are numerous smartwatch models with cameras from obscure brands like Scinex, Collasaro, Padgene, and GZDL, however.
Samsung’s last attempt at a smartwatch with a built-in camera was 2014’s Gear 2 Neo, which came with a 2MP sensor.