There’s a brand-new way to interact with Google’s Wear OS smartwatches, which is exciting, and several new watches have been announced at IFA 2018 that will presumably receive the update when it rolls out early October. But you shouldn’t buy them. Not yet, at least.
The problem with Wear OS smartwatches isn’t entirely the operating system — the new changes are welcome — but what these watches need is a new processor. Almost all Wear OS smartwatches for the past two years have utilized Qualcomm’s aging Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor. It was a decent processor for its time, but it hasn’t been able to keep up with the competition. In almost all of our Wear OS smartwatch reviews over the past year, we’ve mentioned sluggish performance hampering the experience.
A newer processor would not only offer smoother performance, but would also likely be more efficient. That could mean improved battery, stretching the life of most Wear OS watches to more than a day. It would likely be smaller too, which would allow manufacturers to make slimmer watches closer in size to their analog counterparts. And all of these improvements aren’t too far away. Qualcomm has announced an event set for September 10 revolving around watches, and the company is highly expected to finally unveil the successor to the Wear 2100 processor. In an interview with Wareable, Qualcomm’s director of wearables claimed there would be “significant” improvements to battery life thanks to a revamped Ambient Display, and better integration with GPS and heart rate sensors.
We’re not quite sure why these brands are launching smartwatches right before Qualcomm’s wearable event.
With less than a month to go until we see Qualcomm’s new wearable, it’s difficult to recommend the new watches announced at IFA. Skagen’s Falster 2 may be one of the most beautiful Wear OS smartwatches we’ve ever seen, but it has the same 300mAh battery capacity as the old model, as well as the Wear 2100 processor. Our original Skagen Falster often hit 30 percent around 1 p.m., barely getting us through a work day. How long would the same watch with GPS and a heart rate monitor last?
The newly announced Diesel On Full Guard 2.5 now also comes with GPS and a heart rate monitor. We complained about the original On Full Guard’s short battery life in our review, and we’re not expecting an improvement here because it also uses the Wear 2100 processor. The only exception is Casio’s new WSD-F30, which boasts numerous battery-saving modes and is packed with features tailored for adventurers that you can’t get on most other watches.
We’re not quite sure why these brands are launching smartwatches right before Qualcomm’s wearable event. Perhaps they’re trying to make use of leftover components and watches? Perhaps Qualcomm didn’t clue them in about its new processor? Either way, you will undoubtedly want to wait and see what Qualcomm’s next processor has to offer before you purchase a Wear OS smartwatch — new or old.
We’re expecting Google to unveil a Pixel Watch at its October event.
There’s a good chance smartwatches with the new processor could jump in price and cost far more than watches using the Wear 2100, but it’s still worth waiting to find out. It might even make sense to spend a little extra for these watches with the new processor, as they’ll likely radically improve your smartwatch experience. So far, we’re expecting Google to unveil a Pixel Watch at its October event, and we imagine more brands will follow later this fall.
Smartwatches aren’t just about the tech inside them. Design is just as important, and we hope the upcoming wave of watches will look just as good as many of the Wear OS watches we’ve seen from fashion brands. If watches like the Skagen Falster 2 tickle your fancy, then go for it, but it’s important to keep in mind that a major leap for Wear OS smartwatches may be just around the corner.
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