The Google Pixel Watch wants an excellent chip, however which?

Earlier this week, Google confirmed what we have suspected for a very long time: the Google Pixel Watch is coming later this fall. And whereas we realized some particulars, the reveal was extra of a teaser than a full-blown announcement. A few of that was to be anticipated, and naturally, the following few months shall be stuffed with hypothesis about what the ultimate type of the Pixel Watch shall be. However one factor Google has to get proper is the chip inside.

It is clear, from the Pixel Watch’s design to the corporate’s huge enterprise in retooling Put on OS, that Google is making an attempt to make an Android flagship smartwatch that may give the Apple Watch a run for its cash. The factor is, Put on OS’s sluggish evolution wasn’t all on Google. For plenty of years, Put on OS was stymied by an absence of succesful processors.

Most Put on OS watches run on a Qualcomm Snapdragon Put on chip. A couple of run on proprietary chips, however these are an exception to the rule. At a time when Samsung and Apple had been rolling out superior smartwatches options left and proper on more and more highly effective SoCs, Qualcomm understandably put extra of its effort into its cell chips than its wearable ones. That left Put on OS with no processor that would sustain. The watches had been laggy, downloading apps on the wrist could possibly be tedious, and generally it felt just like the watch was combating in opposition to you.

The Fossil Gen 6

The Fossil Gen 6 had the Qualcomm Snapdragon 4100 platform. Did not make that a lot of a distinction.
Picture by Dieter Bohn / The Verge

There are various explanation why Put on OS struggled to achieve a foothold, however there are two main elements that led it to the place it’s right this moment: occasionally up to date software program and this chip downside. Fixing both was going to be a bumpy journey, however on the very least, Put on OS 3 is a concerted effort on the software program entrance. The {hardware} subject is a bit more regarding as a result of up till now, Put on OS watches have primarily relied on Qualcomm’s chips. And sadly, Qualcomm did not ship.

There was hope when the Snapdragon Put on 4100 platform was introduced because it used newer (though nonetheless outdated) course of expertise that may allow sooner efficiency and extra fashionable options. However then it took over a yr for a handful of watches to really use it, and the overall expertise nonetheless wasn’t dramatically improved.

To be blunt, the Snapdragon Put on 3100 and 4100 platforms are usually not going to chop it for the Pixel Watch. It was telling when Samsung opted to make use of its personal Exynos W920 SoC over the Snapdragon Put on 4100 platform for the Galaxy Watch 4 lineup — the very first Put on OS 3 watches. No matter Qualcomm had accessible, it merely was by no means going to outmatch Samsung’s personal tech.

And when Google and Fossil began explaining how upgrades to Put on OS 3 may work, it turned clear that the 3100 would not lower it both. Fossil revealed that none of its 3100-powered smartwatches would obtain the improve to the brand new unified platform, counter to what many believed. When Google introduced which present Put on OS watches could be eligible for an improve to Put on OS 3, it not solely excluded all 3100-powered watches — it additionally included the ominous message with others that “in some restricted instances, the person expertise could also be impacted.”

The kicker was when a number of months after the Put on OS 3 reveal, Qualcomm introduced in July 2021 that it was getting its geese in a row to Develop a brand new 5100 platform inside the subsequent yr. Which ought to imply the 5100 is nearly prepared until it obtained delayed.

This leaves us with an enormous query. What precisely goes to energy the Pixel Watch? And can it be capable of run Put on OS 3 the way in which Google envisions?

Galaxy Watch 4 Classic (top left) and Galaxy Watch 4 (bottom right)

Google may probably license the proprietary Exynos chip Samsung used to energy the Galaxy Watch 4 lineup
Picture by Dieter Bohn / The Verge

Maybe Google will license Samsung’s Exynos W920. Samsung has declined to touch upon whether or not that is a risk a number of instances. (Understandably so.) One other current rumor is that the Pixel Watch will function Samsung’s last-gen wearable chip, the Exynos 9110. Or given Qualcomm’s sudden need to hustle on a brand new wearable chip, maybe the Pixel shall be one of many first watches powered by the 5100 platform. Or, possibly Google will adapt its Tensor chip for the Pixel Watch. We requested Google to remark concerning the Pixel Watch’s processor, but it surely declined to remark.

All of those eventualities are laborious to foretell. Put on OS 3 ran nicely on the Galaxy Watch 4 — besides when it got here to battery life with the always-on show. You possibly can’t say the Pixel Watch would undergo the identical, even when it has the identical chip. It may run a refreshed model of the Put on OS 3 UI and certain will not use the very same parts. Leaks already recommend that the Battery sizes are completely different. The watch operating on the older Exynos 9110 could be probably disappointing, however not the tip of the world both. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 ran Tizen fairly easily — and Put on OS 3 is not less than half Tizen. As for battery life, the Galaxy Watch 3 wasn’t something to write down dwelling about but it surely was, not less than in my expertise, higher than its successor.

Choosing a Tensor chip could be intriguing — partly as a result of we would not know what to anticipate but additionally as a result of Google would not be restricted by a 3rd celebration. As for a Qualcomm 5100 chip, it is laborious to be hopeful based mostly on the previous.

That stated, Qualcomm may shock all people, and I discover it laborious to think about that Google would undergo a subpar chip when it has been actively and constantly laying the groundwork for the Pixel Look ahead to over two years. That will be flopping when it counts most.

Clearly, we cannot know what the chip shall be till Google confirms it later this yr. However one factor’s for certain — Put on OS 3 cannot repeat the errors of the previous. It isn’t the tip of the world if the Pixel Watch would not include FDA-cleared EKGs, physique temperature sensors, and each experimental well being function below the solar. (We requested Google about this too, but it surely declined once more to remark.) These can at all times come later. What it will probably’t afford are laggy efficiency and abysmal battery life.

The one method to choose Google’s success (or failure) shall be to check the Pixel Watch ourselves. However understanding what’s powering it might not less than give an thought of ​​what to anticipate.

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