Qualcomm releases Snapdragon Wear 2100 to enhance the wearable experience

by: Gary SimsFebruary 11, 2016

snapdragon_wear-2100-layered-smartwatchThe majority of Android Wear smartwatches use the Qualcomm Snapdragon 400, an ARM based System-on-a-Chip which comes in either  dual-core or quad-core configurations. While it is an excellent processor, the truth is that it was designed for smartphones and not wearables. Following the success of the Snapdragon 400 in Android Wear devices, Qualcomm has decided to make a range of chips that will specifically target the wearables market. The new processors will use the  Snapdragon Wear moniker and the first chip in the series is the Snapdragon Wear 2100.

The two key features of the Snapdragon 2100 are its reduction in size and an increase in power efficiency. According to Qualcomm the Snapdragon Wear 2100 is 30 percent smaller than the  Snapdragon 400, which should help OEMs build thinner and sleeker devices. It also uses less power, 25% less according to Qualcomm. If there is one huge problem with wearables at the moment it is battery life, so any progress in making the battery last longer is very welcome!

Qualcomm is also keen to point out that the Snapdragon Wear 2100 has an integrated, ultra-low power sensor hub, which will allow for the use of more sophisticated algorithms and greater accuracy than the Snapdragon 400.

LG will be releasing new smartwatches and other wearable devices that use the Wear 2100 later this year.

Like some variants of the Snapdragon 400, the Snapdragon Wear 2100 uses four Cortex-A7 cores running at a max clock speed of 1.2 GHz. There is a Adreno 304 GPU which support OpenGL ES 3.0. The choice of GPU is interesting as ARM recently released the Mali 470, which only supports OpenGL ES 2.0, the logic being that smartphones don’t need OpenGL ES 3.0 and the implementing 2.0 needs less space and is more power efficient. However, Qualcomm exclusively uses its own GPUs in its chips, so the 304 is probably the lowest GPU in it current portfolio.

In terms of connectivity the Wear 2100 is available in both wirelessly tethered (Bluetooth and Wi-Fi) and connected (4G/LTE and 3G) versions with the latter supporting LTE FDD & TDD, WCDMA, TD-SCDMA, EV-DO & CDMA 1x, and 2G GSM/EDGE.

Earlier this year, Qualcomm announced that its technologies are used in 65 wearable devices across 30 countries.

LG partnered with Qualcomm for the launch of the Snapdragon Wear 2100 and according to David Yoon, vice president, wearables, LG Electronics, the electronics giant will be releasing new smartwatches and other wearable devices that use the Wear 2100 later this year.

Interestingly, because the Snapdragon Wear 2100 supports normal Android as well as Android Wear, it could start to appear in some low-end smartphones as well! However its intended market is smartwatches, kid and elderly watches, smart bands, smart eyewear and smart headsets.

Overall this is a good move by Qualcomm. It has established an early lead as the de-facto processor supplier for wearables and consolidating this position will be important for Qualcomm’s long term growth into new sectors. Earlier this year, Qualcomm announced that its technologies are used in 65 wearable devices across 30 countries. It also said that at least 50 more wearable devices will launch this year with Qualcomm tech inside.

What do you think, will this new processor make wearables sleeker with longer battery lives?

  • Vinícius Azzolin

    I don’t have any smart watch but I thought that the Android Wear was optimized, but it really needs a four-core processor? It seams as a waste of battery.

    • I don’t get it either. Most if not all current Android Wear devices with a Snapdragon 400 have 3 of their 4 cores disabled.. The Wear 2100 should be at maximum a dual core chip…

      • SharkGaming

        I totally agree with you (also how do you use bold with discus?)

    • Cortex A7 are so small and way less power hungry than A15/A57 that you should not worry about how many of them they will put in.

  • John Kats

    Battery life is the only think that keeping me from buying a smartwatch…so its a good turn…lets hope they deliver what they say!!

    • Inshaeql

      Gear S2 classic battery lasts 3days~ easy. Not android wear but tizen though. Super optimized and smooth , not a single regret buying it over moto 360.

      • John Kats

        I’m not big fan of samsung and I also want to play with clock watches… :p

        • You want to play with cock watches?

          • John Kats

            Watch faces…

      • James LaSalle

        Only thing that holds the gear s2 back is the lack of official app support.

  • Asmodai

    I can’t find anything on what process the fabs are using to make these? Are they 28nm, 20nm, 16nm TSMC, 14nm Samsung/Global Foundries or what?

  • Luka Mlinar

    I suppose it makes sense if it’s little big but why doesn’t it use the new gen. power efficient cores like the Cortex-A35, or at least the Cortex-A53.

  • Erik Garcia

    Bought the original Moto 360 at launch & love it to this day! I was VERRRRRY close to selling it in order to get the Huawei watch but the announcement of this new processor has me excited for the 2016 models of android wear smart watches & I cant wait to see whats in store. I think my 360 could last another few months….now if only I could get my hands on the monolink band….

  • sluflyer06

    I don’t thing “battery life is one huge problem” for wearables. The 2nd gen Moto 360 does 2+ days easily. I get 2.5 days reliably out of mine wearing it from 615am-10pm.