It is no secret that the Apple Watch is a dominant factor on the smartwatch market. And it will probably become more popular after the expected renewal on September 12, when it is likely to get a larger screen and haptic feedback sensors. In total, the soon to be released version of the Apple Watch is likely to lead more people to buy a smartwatch and increase Apple's edge on the competition.
But Qualcomm, one of Apple's biggest rivals, unlocks the iPhone maker a few days before its big event with the new Snapdragon Wear 3100 platform. The chipset was designed by Qualcomm in combination with the Wear OS team from Google and promises a better battery life for the next generation of watches. Moreover, it could be the revival that needs Wear OS.
For the uninitiated, Android Wear was renamed the Wear operating system earlier this year and was given a refurbishment in features such as the Google assistant, Google Fit and a new notification UX. The 3100 platform works in conjunction with these new Wear OS functions to improve battery life and enable new experiences.
The Wear 3100 platform is built on an ultra-low power system architecture with a QCC1110 co-processor in it. The co-processor is small at ~ 21 mm and supports the central quad-core ARM processor. Although the co-processor is small, it can almost completely independently search for keywords, which means that it will probably drive the Google Assistant and background processes – making your smartwatch respond faster and faster.
On the battery side, Qualcomm has enabled three different modes that adjust the battery life depending on the needs of a user. Improved environmental mode seems to be the most crowded, because it does not reduce the brightness of the screen, the number of complications or the navigation on the watch. Traditional watch mode prolongs battery life over a long period of time, which probably results in a slower experience at lower brightness. Finally, you can use the Dedicated Sports mode to activate GPS and heart rate for long periods. Whether it is a triathlon or a marathon, you are insured with the watch.
The magical trick of Qualcomm for this is to discharge the processes of the central quad-core processor to the QCC1110 co-processor. It seems that these are possible modes that allow Wear OS to participate, or it may be smart enough to know when the processes need to be switched. This ability to extend the life of the battery is an essential requirement for this platform. In the end, Qualcomm estimates that this new processor lasts 4-12 hours longer than the previous Wear 2100 platform.
For the time being, I'm a bit skeptical, especially considering the wide range of expected battery improvement, but I'd like to see this new platform in action for a number of future Wear OS watches. And what is a platform announcement without at least some manufacturers saying that they will build for it?
Well, Fossil Group, Louis Vuitton and Montblanc are the first launch partners to use the new Snapdragon Wear 3100 Platform (pretty big brands if you ask me). It becomes a similar story as high-end fashion brands are still the first to come to Wear OS en masse. The good news is that this list is likely to grow, and although Google does not have a Pixel smartwatch this year, who knows in 2019 may be one with this chip.
Consumers can also expect a series of watches to arrive, since the 3100 platform is supplied in Bluetooth and WiFi, GPS and 4G LTE variants. The chips are shipped today, so expect a new wave of Wear OS watches soon.