Qualcomm has unveiled the next generation of its Snapdragon Wear 4100+ processors, which could herald new features and performance boosts for smartwatches.
A smartwatch’s processor handles all the features of the device, from the continuous heart rate monitoring to the colours displayed on the watch face. It will make or break battery life and is central to the entire experience.
So what does the new Snapdragon 4100+ actually offer? This is going to technical quite quickly, but we’ll try and keep it light.
The Wear 4100 shrinks from 28nm to 12nm technology, which will improve performance and battery life. It uses ARM quad-core A53 processors and Qualcomm Adreno 504 class graphics processing.
The headline figure is an 85% increase in performance over the Snapdragon Wear 3100 platform in terms of usability, and a 25% boost in battery life.
How battery life is implemented and managed comes down to manufacturers, but the Wear 3100-powered Suunto 7 managed 12 hours of GPS tracking.
Qualcomm now boasts up to 18 hours of tracking with 4100-powered smartwatches, and users could get a week of battery with basic fitness tracking of steps, heart rate and notifications.
This is done by using BIG/little architecture, where a smaller, low-powered co-processor handles background tasks. And the Wear 4100 can switch tasks to this co-processor more intelligently.
The co-processor can now use 64K colors on low-power always-on displays, compared to just 16 colors on 3100 devices. That means richer watch faces, with live complications and number kerning for a much more attractive experience.
The co-processor can handle continuous heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking, and fitness tracking sensors, which will boost battery life. Plus, more GPS tracking can now be done in low power states too, which could have interesting fitness implications.
And curiously, the new Wear 4100 will support cameras up to 12MP, which means we could see the first Dick Tracey smartwatches with video calling capability.
One of the launch devices is the Chinese focused BBK Education watch with dual cameras, although there’s no chance of seeing that in the West.
There will also be a new Ticwatch Pro from Mobvoi, which will be the first Wear OS watch to run Snapdragon 4100. You may recall that Mobvoi only just updated its Ticwatch Pro to include 1GB of RAM, so it looks like another update is lurking.
The Snapdragon 4100 is available now, so look out for announcements of it arriving in new devices.