Back to Article

  • bengildenstein - Monday, June 30, 2014 - link

    It's humbling to think that these smartwatches feature SoCs that should be comparable in CPU/GPU performance to my 2012 Nexus 7. These are extremely capable computers, certainly capable of running the majority of content on the Play Store, though not in a practical way given the ultra-small display. Reply
  • JeffFlanagan - Monday, June 30, 2014 - link

    The SOC may be comparable to your phone, but if the CPU is cranked as fast as the one in your phone to run phone apps, the battery life would have to be terrible. These batteries are tiny! Reply
  • bengildenstein - Monday, June 30, 2014 - link

    You are correct! I remember reading that the clock rate of the CPU in these smartwatches was around 1.2GHz, but I think that was literature on the typical clocks of the SoC itself (targeted for low-end smartphones). In practice, a little googling has revealed that they are clocked at around 800MHz, which is ~60% of the speed (and the A7 is slower than the A9). I would expect that the GPU would be underclocked as well (though even at very low-clocks, the 305 may be comparable to the Tegra 3).

    Given another generation iteration, these devices should feature Cortex A53, or equivalent CPUs which would be clock-for-clock as capable as the A9 found in Nexus 7, though it remains to be seen if the final clock speed will reach the 1.3GHz found in the tablet. Given a node-shrink (which is looking more like 14nm FinFET every day) they most certainly should perform as well, if not better.

    As it currently stands, these smartwatches are still very capable computers!
  • DanNeely - Monday, June 30, 2014 - link

    I wouldn't be surprised to see them go the other direction. Like macs, I don't see any need for a quad core A7 CPU in the first place. I suspect it had more to do with picking something that would require minimal porting effort and/or being able to use an off the shelf SoC with support for features that haven't trickled down to lower end chips (eg the newest bluetooth), and wouldn't be surprised if a future generation launched with a dual core A5 or even a single core M3 to extend battery life or allow for a smaller package. Reply
  • Morawka - Tuesday, July 01, 2014 - link

    and these SOC's are designed for phones. imagine how much battery life they'll get when they design a soc around a watch. Reply
  • Thrawn - Monday, June 30, 2014 - link

    The highest clock speed may not be the best way to save power but doing Intel's race to sleep method for something like this is still valid and requires a powerful CPU to actually be the lowest energy usage that a responsive device is going to get. The super low wattage CPUs are used in devices that don't have to directly interact with us and so we don't notice slower speed. Reply
  • macs - Monday, June 30, 2014 - link

    I still don't get why they use quad core SOC for a watch.
    2 faster core should be a better solution for mobile devices in general and even more on a watch...
  • knightspawn1138 - Monday, June 30, 2014 - link

    I would guess that the quad-core at a lower speed helps conserve battery by allowing the CPU to complete more tasks simultaneously, reducing the time the chip would spend out of low-power mode. Reply
  • DanNeely - Monday, June 30, 2014 - link

    Preliminary benchmarking results suggest that only 1 core is enabled. (Single and multi-core versions of geekbench returned the same results.) This lends support to my speculation that the chip was picked primarily because it made implementation easier, not because they needed this much cpu power.
  • Guspaz - Monday, June 30, 2014 - link

    These things look surprisingly space inefficient on the inside... Looks like there's significant room for improvement for manufacturers who really go nuts in miniaturization, like mounting components to thinner flexible substrates. Reply
  • uhuznaa - Tuesday, July 01, 2014 - link

    Yes, I thought the same. These things almost look like prototypes, there's a lot you could do with deeper integration here. Just shows that they aren't really committed to the very idea of smartwatches it seems. The quad-cores with only one core enabled also show that this is just about getting something out of the door as quickly as possible.

    I'm more and more curious about what Apple will come up with.
  • tuxfool - Tuesday, July 01, 2014 - link

    Indeed. The Pebble Smartwatch has all of its internals on flexpcb. Reply
  • 787b - Monday, June 30, 2014 - link

    Anyone knows what is the black tar on PCB next to RAM/SoC stack?
  • smkennedy - Monday, June 30, 2014 - link

    It's a underfill material to help keep the BGA (ball grid array) packages from popping off the board if it is flexed. Essentially a glue to hold the chips on and improve reliability. Most smartphones will have it as well. Reply
  • 787b - Tuesday, July 01, 2014 - link

    Thanks. I guess Samsung uses less glue than LG, so it can't be seen on the picture. Reply
  • Devo2007 - Monday, June 30, 2014 - link

    You mentioned the LG display looked better, but was the Samsung "bad?" In what way was the LG better? Reply
  • ahse0w - Monday, June 30, 2014 - link

    I wonder if the watch gets hot under load.
    Or there is no such power intensive app for the smartwatches yet..
  • michaelljones - Monday, June 30, 2014 - link

    Looks like sensor wins for Invensense in both cases as well. A M65x class part in the LG and a M92x class part in the Samsung. Reply
  • Gadgety - Tuesday, July 01, 2014 - link

    Very interesting piece.

    "One thing is for sure: those batteries are going to have to get thinner, or find a new place to live. Perhaps split up and distributed into a watch band?"

    I saw somewhere a battery in the watch band has been patented by Apple. Looking forward to the patent battles, injuctions, bans, counter suing etc.
  • Gadgety - Tuesday, July 01, 2014 - link

    On the LG G Watch "Two more screws hold the incredibly small PCB in place."


    "Overall Samsung definitely has the more compact (and complex) internal PCB (the picture at the top of the article compares the two side by side)"

    If LG's PCB is incredibly small, what superlative could be used to describe Samsung's? Even incredibly smaller?

    On a side note, I missed the battery capacity of the Samsung.

    Looking forward to the review.
  • jjj - Tuesday, July 01, 2014 - link

    Super lame that they have to use phone parts. A phone SoC , that Synaptics touch, they could easily use something with 2 point touch. They are freaking giants. they could make an effort to do it right. This is not how you sell 10 million units in a quarter and ofc the market won't take off with pathetic hardware , insane pricing and lack of functionality. Reply
  • ciparis - Tuesday, July 01, 2014 - link

    "Perhaps split up and distributed into a watch band?"

    Yes! Lithium Polymer batteries, maybe? So long as it can't explode and blow off your hand...
  • Icehawk - Tuesday, July 01, 2014 - link

    If the battery is in the band then you can't easily swap them out. I know it was mentioned that at least one of these new watches takes standard 22mm bands.

    I don't get the need for much CPU/GPU power at all - it should be mostly a second display.
  • kyuu - Tuesday, July 01, 2014 - link

    Both of these have swappable bands. Putting any circuitry in the band is a really crap idea no matter how you go about it.

    It needs enough CPU/GPU to drive the UI. The paired phone isn't going to be rendering the UI elements and animations.
  • uhuznaa - Thursday, July 03, 2014 - link

    Still, CPU requirements are small and the GPU has only very few pixels to throw around (compared to modern smartphones). Using actual smartphone SoCs for these things isn't the best idea when comes to battery life. If you have an actual idea what the thing will do and a long-term plan and can design your own SoC towards that you should be able to get by with less power. Reply
  • sndinc - Thursday, July 03, 2014 - link

    My question is simple. Do the watches heat up while on your wrist? Just wondering since sometimes my smart phone seems hot. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now