The chipmaker says its new Snapdragon Wear 3100 microprocessors, which will debut later this year in watches running Google's Wear OS software, were specially created to add some of the most desired functions for consumers. Samsung just introduced a new smartwatch running on its proprietary Tizen software last month and Apple (aapl) is expected to unveil the fourth generation of its watch on September 12. In short, tasks that a Snapdragon Wear 2100 based smartwatch would have to wake the application processor for, a Snapdragon Wear 3100 smartwatch can often delegate to the more frugal co-processor. It's a curious absence from Snapdragon Wear 3100's offerings, but Kedia also suggests that watches with this new processor will continue to see new features and performance upgrades via firmware updates in the future, including possibly adding more features to the longer-battery basic watch mode over time. The Snapdragon Wear 3100 is meant to put Google's smartwatch platform on the map, instead of a distant third place. Enhanced Ambient Mode seems to be the most featured filled, as it doesn't cut back on display brightness, the number of complications, or with navigating the watch.
The 3100 will enable Google to build out new features for Wear OS, while also giving smartwatch makers more control over how their devices look and how long they last on a charge. This mode promises to provide up to 15 hours of battery life on a device with a 450mAh battery. That would be a massive improvement over current watches and would mean running a marathon without having to worry about your watch dying mid-way through. Qualcomm had trailed the announcement by describing it as the first smartwatch chip built "from the ground up". But at the same time, those fashion brands weren't really doing much to push the category forwards in terms of new features and capabilities.
Battery life on most high-end smartwatches is days at best. Real-world results will vary based on device and usage but on average, users can expect anywhere between four to 12 hours of additional runtime compared to Wear 2100-equipped devices. The Snapdragon Wear 3100 boasts 67 percent less power consumption in low power mode, 49 percent less for Global Positioning System, 43 percent less for keyword detection, 35 percent less draw when updating the clock face, 34 percent less juice needed for MP3 playback, and 13 percent less power consumption for voice queries over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi than the Wear 2100.
Additionally, the Snapdragon Wear 3100 platform includes a new wearable power management sub-system (PMW3100) to support lower power and higher integration, brings in a new DSP framework to support next-generation sensor processing in an open execution environment, and implements a new dual-display architecture to support the hierarchical approach. High-end customers like Fossil Group, Louis Vuitton, and Montblanc will be the first out of the gate to launch products based on Snapdragon Wear 3100. This chipset will come in configurations for WiFi and Bluetooth, onboard Global Positioning System, and LTE.
It's clear we're going to be seeing and hearing a lot more about watches packing this new processor in the coming weeks, but the picture painted with the battery life claims in particular is enticing.
Disclosure: I am in San Francisco to cover the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 event and Qualcomm did pick-up the tab for my flight, hotel, and Uber.