Don’t buy a Wear OS smartwatch right now. Wait just a little longer

Something big is about to happen

Another IFA has passed us by, and with it a healthy new crop of Wear OS smartwatches. Casio’s back for round three. The new Diesel watch is sure to attract a crowd. And the Skagen Falster 2 looks daringly close to the perfect smartwatch.

More’s the pity, because you really shouldn’t buy any of them. Instead, you should wait.

Because as tempting as all of these smartwatches may be, they’re the last drips being wrung out of ancient technology. Buy one, and you’re about to find yourself an entire generation behind.

First look: Sony's e-paper FES Watch U is breaking out of Japan

Sure, they may be svelter, they might cram in more features than ever before; they’ll even run on Google’s newly-revamped Wear OS software. But it’s what’s inside that counts – in this case, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 2100 chip, which is about to replaced by something better. And when I say about to, I’m talking about a matter of days. Qualcomm is holding a press conference on 10 September to usher in its next smartwatch processor, which will be the starting pistol on the next generation of Wear OS smartwatches.

Through lack of competition the smartwatch chip market has become Qualcomm's stronghold

When I spoke to Pankaj Kedia, Qualcomm's senior director of wearables, earlier in the year, he threw us a few scraps of information about the new chips. "The next platform will be the first with purpose-built chips," he told me in May, revealing the new chips have been created with special consideration to fashion and sports use cases. Oh, and improved battery life.

And it’s not a moment too soon. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 2100 arrived in 2016 but even then it was behind the times. Its 28nm process was a relic of older smartphones, even at that time, and yet here we are today, in 2018, with OEMs continuing to use that very same technology. Through lack of competition the smartwatch chip market has become Qualcomm's stronghold. Samsung has its superior Exynos chip with its 14nm process – but that’s just for Samsung.

You'll see new watches soon. Very soon

Kedia told me we can expect to see new smartwatches from partners, running the new tech, by the holidays. Google might not be doing a Pixel watch after all, but I suspect other companies will announce new watches alongside, or shortly after, Qualcomm’s big reveal.

It’s possible some smartwatch makers weren't told about Qualcomm’s next-gen processor

So why push out new devices now? After all, news that Qualcomm is readying new tech has been public knowledge for four months – and probably longer in discussions with partners. It’s possible that these companies are squeezing the last few dollars out of the tech they have to hand.

It’s also entirely possible some of them only found out about Qualcomm’s next-gen processor by the time it was too late. This would not surprise me. Back in May I asked one of Google’s biggest smartwatch partners if they planned on holding back new products until they had access to Qualcomm's next-gen tech. They didn't even know there was new tech.

Whatever the case may be, my advice is to wait just a little longer. At least until 10 September when we have a better idea of what’s coming. I don't think you'll regret it.



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9 comments

  • rjphllps7·

    Can someone please make a wear os smart watch that can make calls like the Galaxy watches. I have been really wanting to get a wear os phone but I'll stick with the mediocre Samsung watches just because they can make calls and be independent from my phone

    • nazmadil·

      Currently I am using Fassil Q Marshal Gen2 and I can make calls from my watch via bluetooth connected to my Android phone.

      I think you can make calls from all the Wear OS 2.0 watches.

  • tbits76·

    Yep... Just waiting for the 5th (4.5th?) generation of the Fossil Q Explorist with the Qualcomm 3100 and I'll definitely be first in line. I love the smoke stainless steel and the fact that it finally has NFC, but I'm not buying the 4th gen now with such an outdated processor that's going to be replaced in a few months. You had me at, "battery life."

    • Bas·

      You'll have to be quick, because otherwise I'm the first in line to buy one

    • Maryland_USA·

      The Fossil Q Explorist in smoke stainless steel? That's what I wear--the Gen. 3 model, that is. For my needs, it's already almost perfect. Once you've tried a 3-button watch, you'll never go back to a 1-button watch. All I want is longer battery life. I used to be able to count on 19 hours, including pop-up messages. Now I get about 14.5 hours without messages. I guess I could swap-in a new battery.

  • Blush·

    Do you think the charge 3 is an exception?

    I've tried finding its processor but it doesn't seem to be listed anywhere

  • Merled·

    Same here! I want a good wear os lte phone in the US. Please...

  • Pmeinl·

    Why does nobody copy the Microsoft Band? That was a very nice device.

  • prodson·

    Hopefully this time we will get URBAN watches that can be worn with a suit!!! Not those Mickey Mouse looking watches that are just usable to do sport!