Qualcomm’s latest smartwatch chips support 16-megapixel cameras


In case you were one of the rare few wrist-selfie aficionados out there, the Wear 4100 will support cameras that are up to 16-megapixels sharp, thanks to its dual image signal processors (ISP). If shooting from the wrist sounds enticing to you, Qualcomm and Indonesian kids’ tech company imoo have news you’d appreciate. Imoo announced today that its next kid-friendly smartwatch the Z6 Ultra will be powered by the Snapdragon Wear 4100 and will start shipping in the next 30 days. It will feature a swiveling camera similar to its existing products. Chinese smartwatch maker Mobvoi also shared that its next-generation Ticwatch Pro devices will use the Snapdragon Wear 4100 platform.


One of the most important components of modern smartwatches is how they behave when not actively being used — that is, the more watch-like mode. To better support these experiences, the 4100+ comes with an Always-On co-processor that’s a slightly enhanced version over the 3100’s. It’ll enable a richer Ambient mode on Wear OS watches, supporting 64,000 colors instead of the 16 on the older model. In Sport mode, you’ll be able to load maps in addition to just pulling in data from your sensors. In the most basic Enhanced Watch mode, the Always-On unit will also enable continuous heart rate and sleep monitoring and faster tilt-to-wake in addition to step counting, alarms, timers and haptic feedback, all while sipping power slowly. In addition to the new 12-nanometer process, Qualcomm also adopted low power location tracking and “an enhanced Bluetooth 5.0 architecture” to get 25 percent energy reductions across what it says are key use cases.

To be clear, there is a difference between the Wear 4100 and 4100+ — the former doesn’t come with the Always-On co-processor. This means devices using the 4100 won’t support the Wear OS-based power-saving modes or continuous heart rate and sleep monitoring. It’s a strange decision to exclude the co-processor from a chip for wearables, and might impact battery life in general, but it’s not as if the modes it enabled were very popular anyway. It took awhile for us to even see any of those modes show up in actual watches, and even now, Tag Heuer and Suunto are the only two companies to support the Sport mode.

It’s not yet clear exactly which of the two chipsets the Ticwatch Pro will use, but when it launches it will be our first taste of how well future smartwatches will perform.

2020-06-30 11:00:08

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