Qualcomm introduced a new hardware platform destined to power wearable devices such as smartwatches. Two chips called Snapdragon W5 Gen 1 and Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1 will take the slot previously occupied by the Snapdragon Wear 4100/4100+ found in watches from Mason, Zebra, TAG, or Louis Vuitton.
When new wearables arrive on the market, consumers can expect considerable speed improvements (up to 2X) and battery life (up to +50%). This is due to Qualcomm using an advanced 4nm (nanometer) semiconductor manufacturing process and an improved chip design.
The Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1 is more advanced as it features an Always-ON (AON) unit optimized for voice recognition, media playback, positioning, and other tasks that don’t require the central processor to be ON.
The Qualcomm specifications show some “Power Islands” on the W5+ Gen 1. In chip-design terminology, it means that entire sections of the chips can be turned entirely OFF (no power at all) for maximum battery life. These sections are Audio, Wi-Fi, and GNSS.
Additionally, the same model has Deep Sleep and Hibernate power states that the W5 (non-plus) does not have. While power usage might not be zero, it is nonetheless significantly reduced to a trickle.
Without going into all the technical details, this new generation of wearable processors seems very promising and exciting from a user perspective. Speed and Battery Life have been two traditional pain points for wearables, and these W5/W5+ Gen 1 processors hit all the right points.
Lastly, Qualcomm has worked “very closely” with Google to optimize Wear OS for the new hardware. Hopefully, devices will feature near-maximum performance on day 1.