Back in May, Qualcomm said it was working on a new smartwatch chip, telling Wareable that it would reveal the upgrade in the fall alongside a new lead smartwatch. And on Monday, Qualcomm made good on half of that promise by announcing the Snapdragon Wear 3100. The new chip–Qualcomm’s first for smartwatches in more than two years–adds a power-efficient co-processor, which allows the screen to always display the time in up to 16 colors, with a smoothly scrolling second hand and live complications. Unlike the Apple Watch, Qualcomm’s chip won’t make you flick your wrist upward to see the time.
As for the flagship watch to go with the new chip, that part remains somewhat of a mystery. Yes, Qualcomm did tease a new Montblanc Summit smartwatch at the event, but like most other watches that run Google’s WearOS software, this one falls under the category of hefty watches for men. It may be a flagship in price–the first-generation Montblanc Summit cost $890–but not in broad appeal.
This is just speculation, but I wonder if Qualcomm was intending to announce the Snapdragon Wear 3100 alongside a smartwatch from Google, which had been the subject of several rumors over the summer. A couple weeks ago, Google told Tom’s Guide that it would not be releasing its own smartwatch this year. “To think of a one-size-fits-all watch, I don’t think we’re there yet,” Miles Barr, Google’s director of engineering for Wear OS, said.
I reached out to Qualcomm for more details and will update if I hear back.
It’s worth noting that Snapdragon Wear 3100 isn’t quite complete yet. Qualcomm says it’s still working on a “sports mode,” which will help optimize watches for fitness features such as heart-rate monitoring and GPS tracking. Given that Google recently overhauled its fitness software for smartphones and wearables, perhaps the company’s still waiting for Qualcomm’s chips to catch up.