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Circuit Breaker

Qualcomm is finally designing new chips for Wear OS smartwatches

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Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

As you may know, all Wear OS watches that come out today have little option but to use the same core chip inside: Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 2100, which dates back to February 2016. Some have argued that this is what’s holding the entire Wear OS — née Android Wear — platform back. I personally think that Wear OS has deeper fundamental issues than the processor it runs on, but in any case it turns out that Qualcomm does plan to address the problem this year.

Pankaj Kedia, Qualcomm’s senior wearables director, tells Wareable that the company will announce updated watch-focused silicon this fall alongside a flagship device, with “several partners” set to release Wear OS watches based on the new chips by the holidays. Kedia says the third-generation processors will be “designed from the ground up for a no-compromises smartwatch experience,” supposedly enabling smaller watches with better battery life.

Qualcomm is apparently also designing the chips to work more effectively with always-on displays. “A smartwatch is first and foremost a watch — it needs to look good, it needs to be sleek, it needs to look good when I’m looking at it or when I’m not looking at it,” Kedia says. “It cannot be static when I’m not looking at it, it cannot be black and white when I’m not looking at it. So when we talk to Fossil consumers and Michael Kors consumers, they want a no-compromises smartwatch.”

Qualcomm isn’t ready to reveal specifics, but Kedia claims the new hardware platform will “significantly change the Wear OS ecosystem.” With that in mind, you should probably think twice before making any serious investments in Snapdragon Wear 2100-based devices in the upcoming months. Which, as it happens, could possibly include this alleged new LG watch that just showed up at the FCC.