Qualcomm's Snapdragon W5 Plus Gen 1 aims to reinvigorate the wearable market

Qualcomm Snapdragon W5+ on device up-close
(Image credit: Qualcomm)

What you need to know

  • Qualcomm has announced the Snapdragon W5 platform for wearables. 
  • The platform is comprised of two versions, the Snapdragon W5 Gen 1 and Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1. 
  • Mobvoi (TicWatch) and Oppo are the first two companies out of 25 total that plan to adopt the platform.

The wait is finally over. Qualcomm has officially announced the next series of wearable processors that we will begin seeing in the near future. The Snapdragon W5 Gen 1 and W5+ Gen 1 have been in development for the past three years, but are set to bring a massive upgrade over the Snapdragon Wear 4100+ platform.

As soon as you start to see the differences that Qualcomm is touting, it's easy to get excited. The Snapdragon W5+ is set to provide 50% longer battery life, double the performance, and more, all while being 30% smaller than the previous iteration. 

Qualcomm Snapdragon W5+ platform summary

(Image credit: Qualcomm)

This is made possible thanks to Qualcomm's implementation of the 4nm process with the Snapdragon W5 platform. But taking things even further, the Snapdragon W5 uses a 4nm main processor, along with a 22nm co-processor. The goal of the second chip is to help alleviate the "pressure" from the main SoC, while also operating as an "always-on co-processor."

For comparison, the Snapdragon Wear 4100+ platform, which debuted back in June of 2020, uses a 12nm primary node and a secondary 28nm node. Some of the help that this new 22nm node provides include handling things like low-power notifications, your smartwatch's always-on display, along with various algorithms for heart rate monitoring.

Qualcomm Snapdragon W5+ animated watchface

(Image credit: Qualcomm)

Qualcomm's leap into the next generation of wearable chipsets comes with a bit of differentiation. While many of us here in the U.S. will likely hear a lot about the Snapdragon W5+, the Snapdragon W5 is largely set to be used in Asian markets and specific use cases such as the best kids smartwatches

But you're probably wondering by now when the first Snapdragon W5 and W5+ smartwatches will become available. Without providing specifics, Qualcomm confirmed that the Snapdragon W5 will debut in the Oppo Watch 3, which is set to be launched sometime in August. As for the Snapdragon W5+, fan-favorite Mobvoi's TicWatch line will be getting a massive upgrade sometime "this Fall" with the "next-gen TicWatch flagship smartwatch."

Qualcomm Snapdragon W5+ heart rate monitoring

(Image credit: Qualcomm)

Even after there was a bit of perceived tension following the release of Wear OS 3, even Google is excited about the prospect of what the Snapdragon W5 platform could bring. 

"Google and Qualcomm Technologies have a longstanding history of helping our partners deliver great user experiences. We applaud the technological breakthroughs that Qualcomm Technologies is bringing to the wearables industry with the launch of its Snapdragon W5+ platform. With the Snapdragon W5+ platform, we're excited for what's possible in bringing new levels of performance, capability, and battery life to Wear OS smartwatches."

We're not out of the woods just yet, as we have to continue playing the waiting game for the best Android smartwatches to be upgraded. But this could be the jolt that Wear OS 3 and the wearable market needs to get back on track. 

Upcoming smartwatches appear as though they will be lighter, faster, and last longer. These are three key concerns that smartwatch owners already have, and hopefully, Qualcomm has truly followed through. 

Andrew Myrick
Senior Editor - Chromebooks, tablets, and wearables

Andrew Myrick is a Senior Editor at Android Central. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is collecting different headphones, even if they all end up in the same drawer.