Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon Wear 4100 series is the hardware boost that Wear OS desperately needs

Google’s Wear OS platform for smart watches has been in a tough patch for a while, in part because the only viable option for processors has been Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 2100 and 3100 chips. Those processors are vastly out of date, but now Qualcomm presents a massive update: the Wear 4100 series.

Qualcomm unveiled two new System-on-a-Chip platforms for portable devices today, Snapdragon Wear 4100 and Wear 4100+. Both are built on a 12 nanometer architecture, a significant update to the 28nm design on the company’s existing Wear 3100 platform.

The first key improvement in the 4100+ is, fortunately, performance. Google’s Wear OS platform has always been hungry for power, especially as newer versions of its Android core outperform older portable chipsets, but the 4100+ uses a quad-core ARM Cortex A53 CPU that runs at up to 1.7 GHz. Qualcomm says this allows the 4100+ to be up to 85% faster than the Snapdragon Wear 3100.

Then Qualcomm has upgraded the Wear 3100’s low-power coprocessor. “The AON coprocessor now supports up to 64K colors,” the company wrote, “and extends download experiences to include continuous heart rate monitoring, faster tilt-response. , steps, alarms, timers and haptics to wake up. ” This means that the main CPU won’t have to handle some functions, although it remains to be seen how Wear OS will implement it. The coprocessor is not present in the low-end Wear 4100, only in the plus model.

Other key changes to the Wear 4100+ include an improved LTE modem (5G not supported at the moment), support for up to two cameras (Galaxy Gear, anyone?), And Bluetooth 5.0. The enhanced ambient mode will especially benefit Wear OS by allowing watch faces to maintain their color and complications while the watch is “asleep”.

Fortunately, we won’t have to wait long for clocks that work with the new processors to appear. Imoo is developing an Android (not Wear OS) watch for kids with dual cameras and LTE support, which should arrive sometime this year. Mobvoi, the company behind the TicWatch product line, will be the first to build a Wear OS watch with the new chipset. However, both products will use the Wear 4100 base without the coprocessor, not the 4100+.

Google’s long-term plans for Wear OS remain ambiguous, but with Qualcomm’s new chips, the platform is finally getting the much-needed hardware upgrade.