Report: The Pixel Watch 2 dumps Samsung Exynos SoCs for Qualcomm

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Ron Amadeo
2023-05-31 16:57:42

Enlarge / The first-generation Pixel Watch. It’s a perfect, round little pebble.

Ron Amadeo

The first Pixel Watch represented a promising but first-generation-feeling return to the smartwatch market for Google—will a second-generation version do any better? 9to5Google reports it will at least come with a new system on a chip: the Qualcomm Snapdragon W5 Gen 1. This change would have the Pixel Watch line changing from Samsung to Qualcomm SoCs.

The original Pixel Watch shipped with an Exynos 9110—not a bad chip by any means—except that when the Pixel Watch hit the market, the Exynos 9110 was four years old. As a 10 nm, dual Cortex A53 chip, it was ancient by technology standards. By the time the Pixel Watch came out, Samsung already had a next-generation chip on the market, the Exynos W920, and had shipped watches with the new chip.

While the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear W5 still has the same A53 CPUs, it has four of them, and the chip should be a lot more power efficient thanks to its 4 nm manufacturing process. The Pixel Watch 2 is expected to come out by the end of the year, and by then, the Snapdragon W5 SoC will be no spring chicken either. The chip was announced in July 2022, and the first products hit the market a month later in August 2022—that’s what a good technology rollout looks like, by the way. The Pixel Watch 2’s assumed October 2023 release date would be 15 months after the chip was announced. That’s better than four years, but time still seems to be Google’s biggest enemy when it ships a smartwatch.

Qualcomm’s W5 chip is not even that modern; its Arm Cortex A53 cores have been around for 11 years. The Exynos W920, which was announced in 2021, had already switched to “newer” (only six years old!) Cortex-A55 CPUs. Qualcomm has never cared much about the smartwatch market, and while this new chip is a big improvement for the company, it’s not at the “best-effort” technology level you typically see in its smartphone chips. By October, though, Samsung should have the Galaxy Watch 6 on the market with an even faster Exynos W980 chip.

The other tidbit in the report is that the Pixel Watch 2 will use the same sensors as Google’s FitBit Sense 2, which includes a “continuous electrodermal activity (cEDA) sensor.” This can track skin temperature and sweat levels, which some software can spin into a stress level detector after some calibration.

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