Huawei has started to portray an image of independence from US companies, at least as far as some hardware components go. It has touted its own Kirin system-on-chip (SoC) to rival Qualcomm’s and even Samsung’s and Apple’s on the smartphone side of things. Now it’s doing the same for wearables with the newly revealed Kirin A1. But more than just a processor for smartphones, Huawei is billing it as the first chip to support both traditional smartwatches and fitness trackers as well as Bluetooth earphones and headphones.
Huawei was already using its own chip for the Huawei Watch GT last year and it was promoted to be one of the reasons for the watch’s impressive battery life (the other being the custom OS). This year, Huawei gave the chip a name, the Kirin A1 and revealed it to be the brains behind the Watch GT 2 as well as the FreeBuds 3 earphones. Wearable chipsets are already small but if you can cram the same silicon in earbuds, then the Kirin A1 is boasting to be even smaller.
Despite the size, Huawei boasts that the Kirin A1 has a lot more to offer than its competitors. It’s the first one that supports both Bluetooth 5.1 and Bluetooth LE 5.1 for two classes of devices, as mentioned. That means it’s also designed to address the needs of wireless audio devices which are different from smartwatches.
Huawei talks about a few technologies that are supposed to deliver exactly on that, like a proprietary dual-channel synchronous transmission technology that promises a balance between latency and power consumption. Bluetooth Ultra HD codecs, on the other hand, offer a maximum bandwidth of 6.5 Mbps, in perfect scenarios, of course.
Will these be enough to rival the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100, at least on wearables? Given how slow the chip maker seems to be moving in that market, it might not be that hard to imagine. At the same time, just like the Apple W1 and H1, the Kirin A1 is more of Huawei in-house solution to prove it can survive without Qualcomm and, at least in this case, Google.