It’s a few weeks into 2023, and we’ve already seen some cool tech products announced this year, especially from CES. But while Google and other Android OEMs were on hand to show off new phones, tablets and software, Wear OS was hardly present, and it looks like we’re once again waiting for the next generation of Wear smartwatches to arrive. OS 3.
That’s not to say there haven’t been some cool things to show off in the Wear OS space. Google unveiled a new Active Unlock feature at its CES booth (via android font), an unannounced feature that allows Pixel Watch users keep their phone unlocked if the watch is in use, both on and near the wrist.
Citizen also introduced its latest smartwatch, the Smart CZ, which features some cool technology from NASA to help users combat fatigue. However, this watch is fueled by aging (but still good) Snapdragon Wear 4100+ chipset, which only highlights the fact that it’s 2023 and we still haven’t seen a smartwatch with the latest chip.
The Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1 was announced in the summer of last year, with the promise of dramatically improved performance and battery life for Wear OS smartwatches. It features a smaller design, better low-power modes, and is much more efficient than its predecessor thanks to its new 4nm process and coprocessor.
It’s a huge improvement over its predecessor and should usher in the first Snapdragon chip for the Wear OS 3 time. I even gushed how excited I was for Wear OS because of the chipset, which looked set to give Samsung and its Galaxy Watch series a hard time. However, that excitement turns to frustration as I find myself playing the waiting game again.
When Qualcomm announced the W5+ chip, it said we’d see the first example of a Wear OS watch from Mobvoi coming in the fall. Mobvoi too teased that the watch would arrive in 2022, and yet, we are in the winter of 2023, and there is still no watch with the new chip other than a OPPO Watch 3 series (opens in a new tab) powered by the standard W5, and these don’t even run Wear OS. So far, Mobvoi has been pretty quiet about its missed timeline.
Not only that, but the company has fallen behind when it comes to releasing Wear OS 3 for its current batch of smartwatches. I saw a number of users on various forums complaining about the lack of news regarding the update, unsure whether to point the finger at Google or Mobvoi. However, as we’ve seen with companies like Fossil, the update is pretty much in the hands of the OEM at this point.
So what’s the problem ? We asked for an explanation on both the missing smartwatch and the Wear OS 3 update, and Mobvoi had nothing to share on either topic. Instead, the company decided to put its efforts into releasing a subscription service for its “enhanced” sleep tracking features and a new watch face app.
Luckily, we’ve seen a leaked render of the upcoming smartwatch, which might be dubbed the TicWatch Pro 5. Usually that’s a sign that we might be close to a launch.
⌚️ Leak: Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 – one of the first watches to come with Snapdragon W5 (+) and Wear OS 3 pic.twitter.com/FIg8BEcMQRJanuary 20, 2023
However, keep in mind that Qualcomm and Mobvoi first teased this new smartwatch by July from last year, and six months later, there’s still nothing to show for it. Mobvoi’s “Epic Front Runner” is already late.
It’s a little disappointing as it reminds me of all the waiting we’ve been doing for the Snapdragon Wear 4100/Plus era to kick off. Following its launch, we received a watch: the Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3. It was the first and only Snapdragon 4100 smartwatch for about nine months until mid-range TicWatch E3 Was launched. Other OEMs like Fossil didn’t start jumping on the Wear 4100 bandwagon until nearly a year after the chip’s launch, and these brought the first wearables to finally use the Plus variant.
Then we’ve waited a whole year to see a non-Galaxy Wear OS 3 smartwatch hit the market, and they’re either way too expensive and/or still sport some pretty outdated chips that work well but hardly seem optimized for take advantage of the software (we’re still waiting for Google Assistant support).
It gives me flashbacks to the days of yore when Nokia announced a phone and launched it something like six months later when everyone had pretty much forgotten about it and moved on to the next big thing. In this case, both the Pixel Watch and Galaxy watch five have been launched since Mobvoi’s teaser, and they’re both really good smartwatches. Heck, I quietly forgot that Mobvoi had something on the way because I ended up buying a Galaxy Watch 5 myself and I’m pretty happy with it. And yes, the Pixel Watch was teased months before its launch, but Google doesn’t care how many of them you buy, as long as you buy from its ecosystem in some way. Mobvoi should beware, unless he wants to risk his fans turning to other Wear OS OEMs.
It’s starting to look a bit like deja vu, with Fossil (and other OEMs) still on the way. new Wear OS smartwatches with the old chip months after the news was announced. Only this time, Mobvoi is almost nowhere to be found six months later, which is a bit worrying. Ecosystem staple Fossil has also been coy about launching a smartwatch with the new chip, which is expected to come in a possibly Gen 7 model, and I haven’t heard anything from other Wear OS OEMs yet. . I just hope we see something soon someone because I’m sick of always waiting for the next big Wear OS thing to actually happen.