At the Mobile World Congress Shanghai, Qualcomm unveiled the new Snapdragon Wear 2500 platform, which is not surprising at all since the San Diego-based chipmakers have needed to upgrade their chipsets for wearables for a good time now. What is more interesting is that the Snapdragon Wear 2500 is primarily designed for connected smartwatches for kids. Yes, Qualcomm is betting that more and more kids will be wearing 4G-connected smartwatches soon.
This shouldn’t be surprising, but it actually is. Qualcomm has its chips in almost everything mobile – from smartphones to newer internet-of-things (IoT) devices. In fact, it’s older Snapdragon 2100 platform is now being used by manufacturers and is in over 10 devices in the market specifically targeted for kids – from digital trackers to smartwatches. So it shouldn’t be surprising that the company is tailoring its technology for the fast-growing kid smartwatch market, given that it already provides processors for wearables.
The Snapdragon Wear 2500 integrates 4G LTE connectivity alongside a feature set that should be everything a manufacturer needs for kids’ smartwatches. “We see this as one of the high-growth categories,” Anthony Murray, senior vice president and general manager for Qualcomm’s voice, music and wearables business, said in an interview ahead of the announcement. “We can see interest proliferating around the world.”
The Snapdragon Wear 2500 chip is around a third smaller than prior Wear chips and is supposed to provide slightly better battery life. The chip supports 4G LTE, up to a 5-megapixel camera, location tracking, and plenty of other sensors.
One interesting feature of the Snapdragon Wear 2500 chip is that it isn’t really designed to support devices running on Wear OS – which is Google’s primary smartwatch platform. Instead, Qualcomm has designed it to run on Android for Kids, a custom version of the Android platform that Qualcomm has built for kids’ watches. From the looks of it, it probably will not support notifications or the proper Google Play Store. Manufacturers should be able to preload it with the apps and games that they think kids and parents will want.
It might just be Huawei who will be taking the leap on the Snapdragon Wear 2500 chipset first, as the Chinese device manufacturer plans to build the first smartwatch to run off the new chipset. Huawei says that the Wear 2500 has “outstanding power-efficiency, 4G connectivity, smart sensing, and location capabilities,” features that could give it the lead in that niche market.