Snapdragon Wear 5100 leak suggests no major CPU gains over its predecessor

Ticwatch E3 Lifestyle
Ticwatch E3 Lifestyle (Image credit: Chris Wedel/Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Qualcomm's next-gen Snapdragon Wear 5100 has been spotted with four ARM Cortex-A53 cores, not Cortex-A73 cores as previous reports suggested.
  • These CPU cores are similar to the ones used for the company's previous-generation wearable chipsets.
  • Samsung and SMIC are reportedly supplying the chipset to Qualcomm.

Qualcomm's next-generation wearable chipset, dubbed the Snapdragon Wear 5100, was recently spotted with a quad-core CPU featuring ARM Cortex-A73 cores. While the leak promised a significant performance boost over the chipset's predecessor, a new report suggests that this may not be the case.

The processor will supposedly have four ARM Cortex-A53 cores instead of the more powerful Cortex-A73 cores as previous rumors claimed, according to WinFuture. This information is based on initial samples that were tested by Qualcomm, although it didn't include details about the clock speed and fabrication technology.

If the report turns out to be correct, Qualcomm's upcoming smartwatch processor won't ship with a major chip upgrade as initially expected. The previous-generation Snapdragon Wear 4100 and 4100+, which launched last year, featured 12nm-based Cortex-A53 cores, although the 4100+ variant shipped with a low-power coprocessor to take some of the load from the main processor.

This leaves the Snapdragon Wear 5100 stuck with old CPU cores. That is way too far behind the 5nm-based Samsung Exynos W920 that powers some of the best Android smartwatches including the Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch 4 Classic.

However, Qualcomm may make up for that trade-off in other areas. The report says the company is testing the chipset in various configurations that use 1GB or 2GB of LPDDR4X RAM and 8GB or 16GB of eMMC-based flash storage. In addition, the processor is reportedly being tested with cameras featuring 5MP and 16MP sensors. That said, there are no indications about future smartwatches rocking a camera.

Like its predecessor, the next-gen chipset is also rumored to have an ultra-low-power coprocessor to handle menial tasks like logging health data in power-saving mode. As for the production side, Samsung's semiconductor division and China's SMIC will reportedly supply the chipset to Qualcomm.

Given that the Snapdragon Wear 4100+ has only recently begun to appear in a handful of new wearables including the Fossil Gen 6 series, any actual smartwatch powered by the Snapdragon Wear 5100 may take a while to hit the market. This may buy Qualcomm some time to improve its wearable chipsets in order to meet the increasing power demand from new and upcoming Wear OS smartwatches.

Fossil Gen 6 4059 Cropped

Fossil Gen 6

The Fossil Gen 6 is Fossil's latest Wear OS smartwatch that offers faster performance, improved fitness features, and longer battery life. It comes in seven styles with four colorways in a 44mm case and three colorways in a 42mm variant.

Jay Bonggolto
News Writer & Reviewer

Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.

  • Chip speed of my watch... Something that I will never worry about... Seriously... Maybe get notifications a thousandth of a second faster? Lmao. Time, notifications that flash on your watch... Impossible to read, when it's easier just to look at your phone.... And the killer app.... Turn by turn directions when driving using Google maps... Nobody seriously cares how many steps walked or heartrate... Those are amusements at best.
  • Actually this is the exact reason Wear OS has languished where it has been. Granted Google hasn't helped in this regard with what Wear OS has become. That said, there probably would have been greater progress with it it if there had been a completive chip. That one lies at the feet of QUALCOMM. For years they have been putting out one lousy outdated part year after year when it came to wearables. At least Sammy is putting effort into producing a modern chip with better performance and greater battery life. I wouldn't be half surprised if the rumored Pixel Watch uses Sammy's chip to. Qualcomm needs a fire lit under their arse to make a better product.
  • Newer microprocessors do not only target processing speed, they also affect power management and battery life - which is very essential in smart watches. Form factor is also a benefit. If they can cram more chips on an SOC and reduce its footprint, that means smaller chips, more sensors and a little more space to add, say better speakers or just a slightly bigger battery. In a smartwatch, every saved/shaved millimeter counts. And surprisingly, people DO use their smartwatches for notifications, step-by-step navigation and fitness tracking. You'd be better served sticking to only your phone if these use cases do not apply to you. In which case, there's no need complaining about a newer processor.
  • There’s a reason I used tizen for years instead of wear os and it was responsiveness. I use my watch for notifications and a few apps. Others have different use cases. A faster soc on a modern manufacturing process with coprocessors for fitness, time, etc are useful for whatever you want to use a watch for.
  • Who the hell cares anymore about qualcomm. The only good watch on android is the samsung gw4.
  • We should all be hopeful that Qualcomm gets their ass in gear to compete properly with Samsung and google, or they’ll just milk the market like Qualcomm has to date.