Qualcomm made a modern smartwatch chip: Meet the Snapdragon Wear 4100

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Are there any Wear OS manufacturers and customers left to buy Qualcomm’s new chip?

After years of repackaging the same basic smartwatch chip over and over again, Qualcomm has graced Wear OS with a modern smartwatch SoC. Meet the Snapdragon Wear 4100, a Qualcomm smartwatch chip that, for the first time ever, is faster than the previous chip.

The Wear 4100 uses four 1.7GHz Cortex A53 CPUs built on a 12nm manufacturing process, a major upgrade from the 28nm Cortex A7s that every other Qualcomm smartwatch chip has been up until now. It’s not the state-of-the-art 7nm process that Qualcomm’s high-end chip uses, and the Cortex A53 is an old CPU design, but for Qualcomm, it’s a major upgrade. Between the new CPU, the Adreno 504 GPU, and faster memory, Qualcomm is promising “85% faster performance” compared to the Wear 3100.

There are actually two versions of the 4100, the vanilla “4100” and the “4100+.” The plus version is specifically for smartwatches with an always-on watch face, and like previous Wear SoCs, comes with an extra low-power SoC (based around a Cortex-M0) to keep the time updated and log sensor data (like step counts). Qualcomm is promising a better display image quality in this low-power mode, with more colors and a smoother display.

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