There were plenty of light-hearted jokes to be had after Google announced the Pixel Watch at I/O last week, mostly because rumors of the existence of such a watch had been swirling around for years. In fact, we kinda laughed when it was official, because we were almost not sure if it was really official. It’s official, by the way.
Shortly after the jokes, we couldn’t help but find excitement at the reveal. Google had finally done it – they were preparing to give us a Pixel Watch, the only Wear OS watch that we felt had been missing from the ecosystem from the start. The design is on point. Google partners with Fitbit for health tracking. It looks like the perfect size. It will even run a new version of Wear OS which seems to have some major improvements. Everything was lined up from the get-go, even though we didn’t know the fine details like specs or price.
And then just before the weekend, the first rumor surrounding the real Pixel Watch showed up to kill all vibes. The crew at 9to5Google heard from sources who have suggested the 2022 Pixel Watch will run a 2018 chipset from Samsung. Brother, what? Nooooo.
According to this report, Google is using the Exynos 9110, a dual-core chipset first used by Samsung in the Galaxy Watch which debuted in 2018. The chip was large enough in the Samsung world that it was also found in the Galaxy Watch Active. 2 a year later, then the Galaxy Watch 3 a year later.
The Exynos 9110 was a more than capable chip, that’s for sure. It’s a 10nm chip that powered Tizen and delivered one of the best smartwatch experiences on the market. For the Galaxy Watch 3, probably thanks to Samsung’s RAM bump, I noted in my review that the watch performed quite well and handled every task I threw at it without issue. So what is the problem?
It’s a chip from 2018, man. The biggest problem in the Wear OS world for most of the past 6 years has been that all devices used old Qualcomm technology and couldn’t keep up with the times, competitors and advancements in technology. We thought we’d finally move on from that story with the launch of Samsung’s W920 chip in the Galaxy Watch 4 lineup last year and yet, here we are.
Google is reportedly using this chip because the Pixel Watch has been in the works for some time and it’s possible that trying to upgrade to a newer chip has delayed it further. Or maybe Samsung isn’t even willing to let anyone else use the 5nm W920 just yet. Since it’s become clear that Google is no longer a fan of Qualcomm chips for devices, the 12nm Wear 4100+ was probably out of the question.
The hope, at least for now, is that Google spent a lot of time (to like several years) find ways to remove everything from this chip, then part. Since I don’t recall seeing a Wear OS watch running the 9110, we might all be in for a surprise. Google is pretty good at optimizing its devices with chipsets that aren’t always top-notch (think Pixel 5… Pixel 6 too), so we can see it again in the Pixel Watch.
However, I am worried about the general performance. Google has already said that Wear OS 3 brings big changes and issued warnings about older watches being able to run it, even those with Qualcomm’s Wear 4100 and 4100+ chips. Google explained that upgrading from Wear OS 2 to Wear OS 3 on devices running this chip could impact the experience. The Exynos 9110 is technically a more efficient chip than these.
My other concern, at least in terms of Pixel Watch perception or storyline, is that it doesn’t matter how good Google is if it’s using the Exynos 9110. Google using a 4 year old chipset is the type of item that writes its own titles, and not in a good way. We’re already seeing them and the Pixel Watch is 5 months away from launch.