New chip gives Google smartwatches a battery boost

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Qualcomm's upcoming processor might make Google's Wear OS more competitive.
Apple Watch doesn't face much real competition, but a new Qualcomm processor will improve one of its rivals.
Photo: Google

After teasing it for months, Qualcomm today unveiled its processor designed for Wear OS smartwatches. The Snapdragon Wear 3100 is intended to put Google’s smartwatch platform on the map, instead of a distant third place.

The highlight of the new chip is improved battery life. Qualcomm is promising 4 to 12 extra hours of use, depending on the tasks the wearable is asked to perform.

“With the Snapdragon Wear 3100 Platform, we envisioned a new ultra-low power system architecture and in collaboration with the latest from the Wear OS by Google team, to help deliver a rich interactive mode, bring in new personalized experiences and support extended battery life for tomorrow’s smartwatches,” said Anthony Murray, SVP and GM for voice, music and wearables at Qualcomm in a statement.

The Snapdragon Wear 3100 includes quad-core A7 processors, an integrated DSP (digital signal processor), and a new ultra-low power co-processor. It replaces Qualcomm’s Wear 2100 chip that was just a modified phone processor, and was outdated at its launch in 2016.

Already, Fossil Group, Louis Vuitton, and Montblanc have committed to using Qualcomm’s newest processor in their smartwatches.

Snapdragon Wear 3100 vs. the competition

Qualcomm’s announcement comes just before the debut of Apple Watch Series 4. This will be a new generation of the wearable that dominates this market.

While Snapdragon Wear 3100 is likely to improve sales of Google’s Wear OS, it has quite a long way to go. It’s not even the second most popular type of smartwatch. That honor goes the the Fitbit Versa.