On Wednesday, Google officially confirmed that it’s making a Pixel Watch, but the preview it provided contained few concrete specifications as availability is still several months away. 9to5Google has now learned that the Pixel Watch will be powered by an Exynos chip that originally debuted with the 2018 Samsung Galaxy Watch.
According to a source, Google’s Pixel Watch uses the Exynos 9110, a Samsung chip first released in August 2018.
Late last year we reported that the Pixel Watch will most likely use a Samsung chipset. Many assumed that Google would use the Galaxy Watch 4’s just-announced Exynos W920. This would have given the Pixel Watch the benefit of the latest performance and efficiency associated with a 5-nanometer chip and Corex A55 cores.
Instead, the Exynos 9110 is based on a 10 nm process with two Cortex-A53 cores. This is similar to the Snapdragon Wear 4100+, although this Qualcomm chip is 12nm, which again is less efficient. With the market launch of the W920, Samsung propagated “a CPU performance of around 20 percent and ten times better graphics performance than its predecessor”.
Google is most likely using the older chip since the Pixel Watch project started a while ago. When early development of the Pixel Watch started when the 9110 was new, it was based on Android 9 Pie before later moving to Android 11.
By the time the Exynos W920 was available – assuming Samsung is already selling to third-parties – the chipset switch may have delayed development of the Pixel Watch and pushed it too far to the market to justify switching core components. From what we know today, there is nothing to suggest that anything will happen.
Still, it’s a shame that after all this time, this long-awaited Pixel device isn’t sporting the very latest specs. The Exynos 9110 was first used on the original Samsung Galaxy Watch, released in Q3 2018. It can also be found on the Watch Active and Active 2 from 2019 and the Galaxy Watch 3 from August 2020. Due to Tizen, battery or performance comparisons are not possible.
Of course, the chipset isn’t everything. For that, we can even look at Google’s own Pixel 6, which bases its Tensor processor on a technically outdated chip compared to the latest Snapdragon offerings. Equally important is how Google optimizes the hardware. The big question is how this old chip affects battery life. We previously reported that Pixel Watch would have a 300mAh battery.
For comparison, the Fossil Gen 6 has a similarly sized battery and chipset (albeit at 12nm) and is officially said to have 24 hours, which we found as well. This also applies to Wear OS 2, which is said to be less efficient on battery power. Another consideration, as Google has somewhat hinted, is that the Snapdragon 4100+ isn’t enough to run Wear OS 3. Specifically, Google said that – “in some limited cases” – the user experience on existing 4100+ watches running Wear OS 2 will be “affected” after the upgrade. It’s unclear if this will affect the Pixel Watch in any way, as it comes out of the box with Wear OS 3 and should be fully optimized.
The Pixel Watch is set to launch with the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro this fall. It’s likely that Samsung will release its second-gen Wear OS device by then, and rumors have been that there will be a larger battery, as that’s been a gripe compared to the previous Tizen wearables. For those who want the absolute latest and greatest specs, the putative “Galaxy Watch 5” might be the better buy, to the detriment of the Pixel Watch. However, as with Pixel phones, Google’s software additions could be a significant tally, and the Pixel Watch is likely to excel in health and fitness due to Fitbit.
Ben Schoon and Kyle Bradshaw contributed to this post
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