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Exclusive: Google Pixel Watch 2 to feature UWB, new chipset, and more

Google appears to solve some of our hardware complains with the Pixel Watch 2.

Published onAugust 5, 2023

The original Google Pixel Watch was widely regarded as an imperfect smartwatch but a decent foundation for Google to build on. But can Google achieve true greatness with its next-gen Pixel Watch 2? We will only know for sure in a few months when it finally launches, but thanks to a source inside Google, we can preview some of the changes and improvements to the Pixel Watch 2 specs sheet right now.

Pixel Watch 2 specs: A newer, more efficient SoC

The Pixel Watch 2 replaces the Pixel Watch’s dated Exynos 9110 SoC with a Qualcomm Snapdragon W5 Gen 1.

The new processor comes with improved performance. The Exynos chip had two Arm Cortex-A53 cores running at 1.15GHz, while the new Snapdragon chip has four of them running at 1.7GHz. The GPU performance is also greatly improved thanks to W5’s more modern Adreno 702.

pixel watch at a glance
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

The biggest improvement, however, is probably the efficiency of the chip. The original Pixel Watch suffered from weak battery life, partly due to the old and inefficient Exynos 9100, announced in 2018 and built on the 10nm process (released in 2017). Not to mention that the chip itself was mostly just a rebadged Exynos 7270 (2016, 14nm) ported to the new lithography process. Both the outdated manufacturing technology and old component designs Samsung included in the SoC contributed to the overall inefficiency of the chip.

A more efficient chipset should help solve Pixel Watch battery woes.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon W5 is built on the same Samsung 4nm process as most of the 2021 and 2022 smartphone chips, providing a major efficiency improvement over the old chip. While Qualcomm also reuses a previous chip design and simply ports it to a newer process node (W5 is a 4nm port of the Qualcomm QCM2290 IoT chip), it’s still a much newer and more power-efficient chip. It also supports brand-new low-power states such as Deep Sleep and Hibernation, which should further improve the Pixel Watch 2’s battery life.

Google has opted not to use the W5 Plus variant of the W5 platform. The only practical difference between the plus and non-plus variants of the chip is the presence of Qualcomm’s first-party QCC5100 coprocessor. Google has instead decided to use a custom coprocessor based on an NXP chip, similar to the first-generation Pixel Watch.

UWB comes to Android wearables

Ultra wideband UWB toggle
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

One of the most significant upgrades to the Pixel Watch 2 will be the inclusion of ultra-wideband (UWB). The device has an NXP SR100T UWB module to enable new applications. Our source couldn’t confirm any software features, but we can speculate. The obvious use case is precise device finding, whether it’s the watch or another device you’re looking for. This would make a lot of sense, especially considering Google is working to improve its Find My Device network, which will also support UWB devices, such as its first-party item tracker — codenamed grogu.

Another use case could be unlocking your car using Digital Car Key. The tech is already supported by BMW, with multiple other brands, such as GM, Honda, Volkswagen, and Hyundai, working on their implementations. Having support in your watch would mean unlocking your car without using your phone, enabling UWB features even if your phone doesn’t support them. UWB support is currently only available on only a handful of Android phones.

Lastly, Google could enable the watch to seamlessly transfer media playback to a docked Pixel Tablet or a future UWB-enabled Nest speaker. Google has already announced the feature will work with Pixel phones, but think about it — a smartwatch usually stays on throughout the day, while the phone might be lying somewhere. Including the feature on a watch would make transferring the playback much more convenient. Not to mention it could enable the feature for users whose phones don’t support UWB.

The Pixel Watch 2 will have a slightly larger battery

A Google Pixel Watch rests along side its USB-C charging cable.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

As previously noted, the first-generation Pixel Watch was widely criticized for its poor battery life. While this should already be mitigated thanks to the new, efficient SoC, Google is also slightly increasing the battery capacity.

The Pixel Watch 2 has a battery rated at 306mAh (typical). The original Pixel Watch was rated for 294mAh, so that’s a modest 4% improvement.

Updated display, same bezels

The original Pixel Watch was also criticized for its massive black bezels. Sadly, this situation is not changing this year, but Google has opted for a different panel. The basic specs remain the same, 1.2-inch round OLED with a resolution of 384 x 384. The new display is sourced from Samsung Display instead of the Pixel Watch’s BOE panel. Our source couldn’t confirm any other changes, but it’s possible that the new part comes with other improvements, such as improved brightness or new energy-saving features. We’ll have to wait and see.

Faster updates

The Pixel Watch 2 will ship with Wear OS 4 based on Android 13, with all its improvements, such as support for dynamic theming. It also has support for seamless updates; a first for a smartwatch.

Devices that use seamless updates can update their OS in the background while the old version is still running. This means the user is only interrupted for about as long as a regular reboot. One disadvantage is that the storage space occupied by the system components is almost doubled, which made it infeasible on lower-end devices such as watches. It seems that Google has finally figured out a way to include it on their watch, as the Pixel Watch 2 fully supports the feature.

(Slightly) improved availability

As speculated before, the Pixel Watch 2 is being developed under two separate codenames — “Eos” is the LTE variant and “Aurora” only supports Wi-Fi. This isn’t a new practice for Google; last year’s Pixel Watch used the codename “r11” for the cellular-enabled model and “r11btwifi” for the variant only supporting Wi-Fi.

The Pixel Watch 2 has three separate model numbers: G4TSL, GC3G8, and GD2WG. While we don’t have complete information regarding its availability in specific regions, the regulatory e-labels now include an entry for India’s BIS regulatory body, which could mean that Google intends to launch the watch there.

Retail animation

Lastly, we were provided with a retail animation that will be shown on demo units of the Pixel Watch 2. It doesn’t reveal any features or other information about the watch (it’s just supposed to attract customers, it’s even called “attract loop”). However, it’s still a pretty animation in the Material style to look at, and we know some of you are into that.

This concludes our exclusive early look at the specs of the Pixel Watch 2. It appears to be a massive update over the original Pixel Watch, but will it be enough to make the watch truly great? If you’re hungry for more Pixel Watch 2 details, check out our previous leak of the upcoming Pixel Watch 2 watch faces.

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