Gears & Gadgets

Qualcomm's New Smartwatch Chip Promises Better Battery Life

Snapdragon Wear 3100 Platform

Qualcomm has upgraded its smartwatch chip to focus on improving battery life.

Snapdragon Wear 3100, unveiled Monday, is designed to boost battery life by four to 12 hours over the Wear 2100 platform, which it announced in 2016.

Qualcomm Wear 3100 2

The new 3100 chip takes some of the same architecture from the 2100 platform, but adds a microprocessor designed to run low-power tasks involving display, audio, and sensor functions.

The new microprocessor will enable a watch to last longer in ambient mode or when the device simply displays a watch face, said Qualcomm senior director Pankaj Kedia.

People generally interact with their smartwatches 5 percent of the time during the day, so “95 percent of the time all you need is low power, always on,” he said. “We are essentially mirroring how we use the watch on the (computing) architecture.”

According to the company’s own tests, the new chip can deliver a week’s worth of battery life to a smartwatch running a traditional watch-facing mode, possibly up to 30 days. When the smartwatch activates the activity-tracking mode, the chip can deliver up to 15 hours of battery life. However, the new Wear 3100 chip still uses the quad-core A7 processor from the older 2100 platform, so don’t expect a major CPU performance increase.

Qualcomm Wear 3100

Qualcomm’s chip has also been developed to support three different watch faces. They include a barebones traditional clock face, a display that’ll show you a little more information such as your device’s battery life and how many steps you’ve taken, and a third dedicated sports mode that’ll display the time, in addition to calories burned and miles run.

The first watch vendors to use Wear 3100 chip include Fossil Group, Louis Vuitton, and Montblanc; the Montblanc product, the Summit 2, will launch next month. Google is also backing Qualcomm’s new product through its Wear OS, formerly known as Android Wear.

Kedia told journalists he expects traditional watch makers, smartphone vendors, and fitness clothing brands to all build devices using the new chip.

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