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Qualcomm 4nm smartwatch chipset is here for Samsung’s Wear OS supremacy


Last updated: July 19th, 2022 at 19:16 UTC+01:00

Qualcomm teased a new chipset for smartwatches last week and delivered the punchline today. The company unveiled its new Snapdragon W5 Gen 1 and W5+ Gen 1 chipsets moments ago along with some pretty big claims.

By the sound of it, the Snapdragon W5 Gen 1 chipsets are the Wear OS market’s best medicine. The company claims that the chipsets deliver twice the performance at half the energy cost of its prior chipsets for wearable devices, albeit nothing is set in stone. Qualcomm clarified that the final results should become clearer once we see the Snapdragon W5 Gen 1 series in action.

It’s worth noting that Qualcomm’s previous platform was based on 12nm while the new generation is manufactured on a 4nm node. Therefore, these massive performance and energy efficiency gains from one generation to another seem believable. But that’s not to say the W5 Gen 1 series will be twice as powerful and efficient as the 5nm-based Exynos W920 chipset from Samsung.

A new dedicated co-processor and up to one extra day of battery life

A few smartwatch manufacturers are reportedly creating wearables that use Qualcomm’s new solution, but Samsung doesn’t seem to be among them. The upcoming Galaxy Watch 5 series reportedly uses Samsung’s 5nm W920 SoC.

As for Qualcomm’s latest silicon, it features four Cortex-A53 cores and one M55 core, an A702 1GHz GPU, support for LPDDR4 RAM, Bluetooth 5.3, and more modern connectivity options, all in a smaller package.

The difference between the Snapdragon W5 and W5+ is that the latter chipset has an additional low-power co-processor (the M55 core). So, what’s the point of the W5 Gen 1 chipset, you ask?

According to Qualcomm, it sounds like the Snapdragon W5 Gen 1 was designed primarily for enterprise devices, the Chinese market, and OEMs who already use a custom co-processor of their own. Qualcomm’s co-processor can do heart rate measurements, ECG and SPO2 readings, and has fall detection powered by machine learning, among other advanced features.

All things considered, compared to the Snapdragon W4100+ SoC, the new Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1 might be able to deliver up to a whole extra day of battery life on a smartwatch featuring a 600mAh battery.

The Snapdragon W5 series could be the response Wear OS smartwatch manufacturers who compete with Samsung were looking for. The W5+ SoC certainly gives them a better chance to compete against Samsung’s dominant Galaxy Watch series.

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