Qualcomm’s reputation was dealt a major blow these past few weeks. Back in mid-May, the company had to deal with the news that Google is rebuilding Wear OS with a new partner — Samsung. Just yesterday, Google confirmed its upcoming Pixel 6 series will ship with the company’s own silicon rather than Qualcomm’s. After news of Google’s partnership with Samsung broke, Qualcomm later confirmed it still plans to make new wearable chips. Immediately after Google’s Pixel 6 announcement, the company issued a statement stating it “will continue to work closely with Google on existing and future products based on Snapdragon platforms.” While Qualcomm hasn’t elaborated any further on its future plans, we’ve spotted code for a new Qualcomm-made Wear OS chipset that could end up being the Snapdragon Wear 5100.
Last week, Qualcomm uploaded new code to its Code Aurora Forum with the build ID “LAW.UM.2.0-00700-SW5100.0” and code-name “monaco.” “LAW” stands for “Linux Android Wear” (Android Wear was the previous name for Wear OS), while “UM” possibly stands for “Unified Modem.” We speculate that “SW5100” is short for the marketing name of this platform, which could be the Snapdragon Wear 5100.
Digging into the code, we discovered that the platform is currently being developed on top of Linux kernel 5.4, but there’s conflicting information about what Android version the platform is based on. The CAF releases page lists the version as Android 11, but the shipping API level in a config file is listed as “29” which is Android 10. If the platform is actually Android 11-based, we still don’t know if it has any of the changes introduced in the big Wear OS 3 update. Smartwatches running Qualcomm’s existing Snapdragon Wear 4100 platform will get the Wear OS 3 update, though, so we see no reason why this platform won’t as well if it is indeed the Snapdragon Wear 5100.
By analyzing the commit history and board configuration files, we’ve determined that the “monaco” chipset is based on Qualcomm’s existing “bengal” platform. “Bengal” is the code-name for Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 662 and 460 platforms, two 11nm chipsets with four ARM Cortex-A73 and four Cortex-A53 cores. “Monaco”, though, appears to have a quad-core CPU with ARM Cortex-A73 cores, a very slight upgrade over the quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 configuration of the Snapdragon Wear 4100.
We don’t have any more details to share about this new wearable platform, but we did spot an interesting reference to “Atherton” wearables in the code. This code-name could refer to reference devices powered by this new platform, or it could be something else entirely. We’ve asked Qualcomm to comment on this story and will update this article if we hear back.
Featured image: Mobvoi’s TicWatch Pro 3 GPS powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100 chip