In February of this year Qualcomm announced a new processor for wearables, the Snapdragon Wear 2100. Now we're starting to get an idea of which products will actually be using this chip.
At IFA today in Berlin, Qualcomm revealed that the new Fossil Q Wander and Marshal smartwatches are running on Snapdragon Wear 2100. These aren't the first wearables announced that include the chip: both the Nixon Mission surf smartwatch and the new Asus ZenWatch 3 are running on Snapdragon Wear 2100 as well. But, technically, the Fossil Q's are the first to ship with it.
Designed for Android Wear watches, Snapdragon Wear 2100 is supposed to use 25 percent less power than the company's previous wearable chips and support untethered wearables — meaning, wearables that have their own LTE modems and don't just connect to phones over Bluetooth. In the case of the Fossil Q watches, the processor is also said to be an integral part of their "always on" touchscreens, something that few smartwatches have because of the drain on battery life.
Until battery tech improves, next-gen processors might be the only hope for wearables
The Fossil Q Wander and and Marshal smartwatches started shipping on August 25th and cost $295 and $315, respectively.
Usually the inclusion of a new processor isn't especially newsworthy, because it makes sense that newer products would include the most up-to-date chip. But in the case of wearable technology, tiny processors can make a big difference in how well the wearables work. Right now wearable tech gadgets, especially smartwatches, still suffer from relatively poor battery life, slow-to-load third-party apps, and a reliance on the smartphone to power a lot of the features of the watch. So some of the chip makers have come up with CPU's meant to address those problems in some way.
Intel has Curie, which is a tiny lower-power module for connected wearables. Late last year Samsung announced an integrated processor for wearables, and ARM's Cortex A32 core is a super-small CPU designed for wearables and Internet of Things products.