Apple HomePod vs. HomePod Mini: A smart speaker shootout

Apple has only two smart speakers available, recently replacing the discontinued first-generation HomePod—a powerful, Siri-enabled speaker with a new, feature-rich successor. The 6.6-inch high second-gen HomePod has a high-excursion woofer and five horn-loaded tweeters, and support for Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos.

There’s also the impressive HomePod Mini (especially for its small size).

Both Thread-enabled options offer a mesh fabric and backlit touch surface, support for stereo pair functionality and multiroom audio, and a temperature and humidity sensor.

So, which one is for you? Here’s how to decide between the HomePod (2nd gen) and the HomePod Mini.

$300 at Best Buy

$100 at Best Buy

Manifesting

Credit: Reviewed / Marc Saltzman

The impressive sound quality from the second-gen HomePod can really bounce audio across large rooms, providing a satisfying listening experience.

Apple’s follow-up to its 2020 HomePod is an amazing speaker that is not only loud (even for large rooms) but well balanced thanks to clear lows, mids, and highs.

With its Apple-designed high-excursion woofer for deep bass, there are five tweeters, angled slightly upwards for optimized delivery, along with “beamforming” calibration tech that bounces audio to around the room to identify surfaces (such as walls) to provide more volume. balanced experience.

That, and there’s support for Apple Music tracks lossless streaming and 360-degree Spatial Audio (with Dolby Atmos support), which also sounds great when paired with an Apple TV 4K box for television shows and movies (especially a pair of stereo) .

The HomePod Mini also provides great acoustics — surprising, actually, because it comes from a much smaller enclosure — but the full-range driver and dual passive radiators (a speaker diaphragm without magnets) delivers solid bass performance and crisp high frequencies.

Despite its small size, the HomePod Mini also impresses with a decent level of volume for small to medium-sized rooms (even at the highest volume, there is not much distortion).

When you use your voice to activate Siri—to ask questions, control your smart home devices, or instruct your personal assistant to play a song—performance is comparable between HomePod and HomePod Mini.

It’s worth noting, the HomePod has four far-field beamforming microphones compared to the HomePod Mini’s three microphone array, but Siri had no problem understanding me on either speaker.

But pound for pound, in the performance department, the HomePod (2nd gen) wins.

Let’s choose: HomePod (2nd gen) $300 at Best Buy

Price

The Apple HomePod Mini sitting on a wooden surface with LED lighting on top.

Credit: Reviewed / Marc Saltzman

The price of the HomePod Mini has been cut by more than half because of its size. But don’t worry, this show doesn’t lack for that.

Apple’s HomePod (2nd gen) retails for $299. Yes, it’s expensive for a smart speaker, especially if you’re buying two for a stereo pair, but it looks great.

Smaller in size and price, the HomePod Mini is a worthy contender for music lovers, at a more reasonable $99 each. In addition, it has more colors than its older brother: Space Gray, blue, white, yellow, and orange.

Let’s choose: HomePod Mini $100 at Best Buy

Features and intelligent platform

Many of the core features are the same as HomePod and HomePod Mini. Both speakers offer multi room audio and stereo pair support, hands-free Siri integration (with the ability to recognize different users and playlists), and U1 ultra-wideband chip (including spatial awareness and audio handoff).

Both also easily come with a temperature and humidity sensor, if you want to know that information, and in the future can inform you if the level will be high or low for your liking.

While HomePod Mini has an older S5 chip (found in 2019’s Apple Watch Series 5) and HomePod (2nd gen) has a better S7 chip (from 2021’s Apple Watch Series 7), there is no noticeable difference in performance (even Apple once said that the S7 provides a 20 percent performance improvement over the S5, but that’s on the Apple Watch SE).

Both speakers can act as a smart home hub, with Thread support for better compatibility and security than other platforms (using HomeKit and Matter accessories).

For two speakers, note that you need an iOS device such as an iPad or iPhone. Android devices cannot be used with these speakers.

Let’s choose: HomePod (2nd gen) $300 at Best Buy

Design

Apple HomePod Mini and HomePod together in a black face.

Credit: Reviewed / Marc Saltzman

True to its name, the HomePod Mini is small, measuring just 3.3 inches. Also, with a total of five color options, your smart speaker can match your aesthetic.

At 6.6 inches tall, the HomePod is exactly twice the height of the 3.3-inch HomePod Mini. Both feature Apple’s eco-friendly mesh fabric, and a backlit touch-sensitive top that lights up (in color) when you touch it to activate Siri, play or pause tracks, or -adjust the volume up or down.

Besides being more compact, the HomePod Mini is spherical—about the shape of a softball—compared to the more cylindrical-shaped HomePod (which is taller, wider, and taller).

Design preference depends on individual tastes, but both have their charm.

Props to HomePod Mini’s smaller footprint, allowing you to place it in multiple places in a room, such as a small bookshelf, kitchen counter, or end table. There are more colors for the HomePod Mini, too, for those who want to match their decor, compared to the last two HomePod options.

But one downside of the HomePod Mini design is a power cable that cannot be removed from the speaker. With HomePod (2nd gen), you can use any traditional figure-8 power cable, if desired.

Let’s choose: Tie up $300 at Best Buy

$100 at Best Buy

And the winner is…

HomePod (2nd generation)

On the left, the HomePod smart speaker on top of the wooden surface.  On the right, the person using the finger to adjust the settings of the HomePod smart speaker.

Credit: Reviewed / Marc Saltzman

The second-gen HomePod is well worth the price and pairs well with Apple Music features.

True, it costs three times the price, but the new HomePod is a better speaker than the HomePod Mini.

But make no mistake: The HomePod Mini can hold its own, and it does very well despite its small size and cost.

While the two share many of the same features, the HomePod Mini’s more expensive sibling’s display is bolder and richer, and supports more Apple Music features such as lossless tracks. and (for those who like it) Spatial Audio. Perhaps the room listening technology, which is not found in the HomePod Mini, will also help to fill the space with balanced music.

Audiophiles, especially in large rooms, can consider investing in a pair of HomePod (2nd gen) speakers, or as a soundbar, of sorts, for better audio fidelity.

At the same time, those with less space and budget will have no buyer’s remorse after treating their ears to the HomePod Mini.

$300 at Best Buy

$100 at Best Buy

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Prices are accurate at the time this article is published but may change over time.

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