Every two years, Qualcomm introduces a new (or should I say “new”) wearable chipset that will power a new range of smartwatches, many of which run Wear OS. During the days of the Snapdragon Wear 2100 and 3100 chips, I think it’s safe to say that Wear OS practically died, as neither could meet the moment or needs of modern wearables, even back in 2016. We then got the Wear 4100/4100+ line in 2020, but the timing mostly led to smartwatch makers passing on adopting it.
Today, Qualcomm is announcing its newest chip that they expect will actually lead the next wave of smartwatches, not only because it’s new, but because this is their “most advanced leap yet” in the space. Please, folks, welcome in the Snapdragon W5 and W5+ Gen 1, two chips that arrive with some pretty bold claims.
Both the W5+ and W5 are high-end processors that you will seen in Wear OS watches in the near future, but there is one notable difference here. The W5+ is the higher-end of the two because it includes a new co-processor for handling lighter loads. It’ll likely do the majority of the non-intensive tasks throughout a day, plus it’ll be able to run RTOS alongside (or on top?) of Wear OS, in a new twist on the future of smartwatches.
With that in mind, here’s what you need to know about the Snapdragon W5+.
The Snapdragon W5+ is built on 4nm process with a quad-core CPU (A53) that is paired with a new 22nm co-processor. That combination, in large part because of all of the tasks that new co-processor can handle, leads to big claims of 50% longer battery life. Now, overall, Qualcomm is saying a 50% longer battery life over a watch running a Wear 4100+ chip, but below, you can see the breakdown depending on tasks. There are big leaps in things like display scrolling, streaming music over Bluetooth, and in the always-on display.
For a smaller, fashion-forward watch with a 300mAh battery, Qualcomm expects you to get 15+ hours of extra use. For a 450mAh watch, they believe you’ll get at least 18+ hours, along with 24+ extra hours on a big sports watch with a 600mAh battery. If these numbers are accurate, a Qualcomm W5+ watch could really see 2-3 days of battery life.
Since battery life isn’t everything, Qualcomm is also stating that watches with the W5+ will see 2x performance, 2x “richer” sets of features, and a chip size allowing for 30% smaller overall watch designs. It supports Bluetooth 5.3 (yep, that’s new!), faster LPDDR4 RAM, has a more powerful GPU, an integrated speaker for the first time, and upgrades basically everywhere else. There’s even a new U55 Machine Learning Core that will help take care of all of the smart sensing stuff, like activity recognition, heartrate and sleep tracking, ECG, SpO2, etc.
Here’s how the Snapdragon W5+ compares to the Snapdragon Wear 4100+.
In a bit of weirdness, Qualcomm pointed out that the W5+ and its co-processor will allow for RTOS to run (somehow) alongside Wear OS. RTOS (or “real time operating system”), for those not familiar, is the type of OS we see on “smart” watches that often have a health focus and minimal amounts of smartness. Think about devices like the OnePlus Watch or those made by Amazfit and Xiaomi.
When asked how RTOS and Wear OS will work together, Qualcomm seemed to acknowledge that Google was cool with this pairing, but they didn’t really identify examples of how this might work. My guess is that a company like Mobvoi will use RTOS on something like a TicWatch Pro 4 that could have their dual display setup. You’d have Wear OS powering almost everything, but then when the watch switches to the secondary e-paper display, RTOS would takeover to offer more information. That make sense?
Speaking of Mobvoi, Qualcomm announced today that Mobvoi will be one of the first to use the Snapdragon W5+ in an upcoming watch that will launch this fall. OPPO will also launch a watch running the Snapdragon W5. If neither of those companies excites you, Qualcomm said that there are 25 customer designs in the pipeline, so expect even more.
I want to be excited. Please tell me it’s OK to be excited.
Did You Order a Galaxy Z Flip 4 or Galaxy Z Fold 4?
Pre-orders are taking place for the new Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Galaxy Z Fold 4, and as we always say, there’s never a better time to order one of these phones than during this period. Seriously, you should do it.
If you have taken advantage of Samsung’s crazy-good trade-in values, store credit and free accessories, the last thing we want to know is which model you ended up going with. In 2022, both are very good options, seen as relatively minor upgrades over last year’s models, but still offering top specs, water resistance, improved hinge designs for more compact designs, and improved software.
I have been using the Z Fold 4 for a week now and have really been enjoying the experience. The battery life has been great, the displays are nice, and the cameras appear to be very good.
Which option are you going with?
How Good is Android 13 on Pixel Phones?
The stable Android 13 update has been out since the beginning of the week and that means a couple of days for you to run it and establish first impressions. I’m curious what those are, as the update is somewhat minor in new features, but huge in terms of bug fixes from Android 12.
To recap, Android 13 dropped on Monday for the Pixel 4, Pixel 4a, Pixel 5, Pixel 5a, Pixel 6, and Pixel 6a. The update was available immediately if you felt like playing in adb, plus we’ve seen it rollout over-the-air as well to some phones. Tim, for example, says he can pull it yet I can’t on my Pixel 6 Pro. Rude, Google.
We talked about all of the new features in Android 13 that you’ll want to be on the lookout for and then spent a lengthy amount of time looking through the list of 150 bugs that Google fixed. Google says it was able to improve “performance, stability, and reliability,” fixed bugs related to charging and Gboard and touch screen palm detection and so much more. Google even says it addressed fingerprint reader performance on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6a.
After browsing through reddit, I can see that a number of folks have been quick to share that their fingerprint reader is indeed faster (Do people really believe this?) and that overall performance and stuttering has improved, especially on older Pixel phones.
What about you? How has Android 13 been running on your Pixel phone this week? Or are you still waiting for it?
Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro Get Major Approval Ahead of Launch
The Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro stopped through the FCC this week, marking a big step towards launch that should happen around October, if previous launches are any indicator. The filings don’t reveal much, other than supported network bands and the presence of UWB again, but they do give us model numbers to pin on each phone going forward.
There are four FCC filings of note to dip into under Google’s FCC ID. Those filings give us model numbers of GVU6C, GQML3, GP4BC, and GE2AE. After looking through several of the documents at the FCC, I’m pretty confident in saying that the first two are the Pixel 7 and the last two are the Pixel 7 Pro. The GVU6C Pixel 7 also has an alternate model number of G03Z5 alongside it, as does the Pixel 7 Pro’s GE2AE, where GFE4J can be added to its list.
To recap, we have Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro model numbers as follows:
- PIXEL 7: GVU6C (G03Z5)
- PIXEL 7: GQML3 – mmW
- PIXEL 7 PRO: GP4BC – UWB
- PIXEL 7 PRO: GE2AE (GFE4J) – UWB, mmW
Each phone has all of the proper network bands to work well here in the US, with select models also supporting 5G mmW. The two models supporting mmW are GQML3 (Pixel 7) and GE2AE (Pixel 7 Pro). The others support sub-6 5G, just not the super speedy 5G mmW that you’ll never attach to anyway.
To tell the difference between Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro devices, we really are guessing (assuming) based on the fact that GP4BC and GE2AE have UWB or ultra-wideband support. In the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, only the Pixel 6 Pro had UWB and it looks like that’ll be the case again this year. UWB is used for short-range communications in things like luggage trackers or to help a digital car key talk to a car.
The rest of the big network stuff can be see below, where you’ll find WiFi 6E, NFC, and WPT (wireless power transfer aka wireless charging).
Pixel 7 network bands
Pixel 7 Pro network bands
There isn’t much else to take from this because Google already announced each phone. We’re really just waiting for them to go official, so that we can start playing with their cameras, test Google Tensor 2, and see if Google took are of all of the Pixel 6 line’s modem issues.
If you were hoping this arrival at the FCC would tell us when the Pixel 7 will launch, I’m not sure that it does. The Pixel 6 line hit the FCC in September 2021 and then arrived in October. The Pixel 6a showed up at the FCC in April 2022, was announced in May, and then didn’t ship until July.
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