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Buying the right HomePod: Apple's smart speakers compared

HomePod Comparison NextPit
© Apple / Maxx-Studio / pio3 / Shutterstock.com

Is the HomePod mini good enough for you or does it have to be the original HomePod with rich sound for you? In addition, what are the differences between the two smart speakers from Apple? In our comparison, we present both models in detail and also give you some alternatives with which you can control Siri in your smart home without an iPhone or iPad.

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  Basic model Mini model
Product
Image
Apple HomePod
Apple HomePod Mini
Dimensions
  • Height: 17.2 centimeters
  • Diameter: 14.2 centimeters
  • Height: 8.5 centimeters
  • Diameter: 9.7 centimeters
Weight
  • 2.5 kilograms
  • 345 grams
Loudspeaker
  • 1 High-Excursion woofer
  • 7 tweeters
  • 2 woofers
  • 1 tweeter
Microphones
  • 6 for voice recording
  • 1 for room measurement
  • 4 for voice recording
Touch display
  • ✔️
  • ✔️
Radio standards
  • 802.11ac WLAN
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • 802.11ac WLAN
  • Bluetooth 5.0
Multiroom
  • ✔️
  • ✔️
Stereo pairing
  • ✔️
  • ✔️
Battery operation
Check offer*
  • No offer

With the HomePod, Apple introduced its own smart speaker at the beginning of 2018. A speaker that logs into your Wi-Fi network and accepts commands via Apple's very own voice assistant, Siri. What started with the HomePod at that time was offered in a different format a few years later with the introduction of the HomePod mini in a smaller form factor and at a lower price. We will focus on these two smart speakers today.

If you are only looking for a smart speaker that supports Siri, you can also look around at other manufacturers. Among them are models from the high-end manufacturers such as Sonos, Teufel, Bose, and Bang & Olufsen. Alternatively, when buying a smart speaker, you can simply look for compatibility with Apple's AirPlay 2 standard to seamlessly send content from the iPad or iPhone to the speaker. In this article, however, we'll focus on Apple's in-house smart speaker.

Apple HomePod: The OG among Siri speakers

Apple HomePod on the table.
The HomePod is Apple's most powerful smart speaker. / © Apple

Let's begin with the HomePod, which came up with an unusual design and an expensive price during its launch in 2018. This is because Apple offered its high-quality speaker for about $349 at the beginning. The manufacturer covered it with a robust fabric cover, making the speakers invisible and installing a color display at the top. The dimensions are rather bulky with a height of 17.2 centimeters and a diameter of 14.2 centimeters. The speaker also tips the scales at a rather bulky 2.5 kilograms.

However, that is not a big deal since Apple's HomePod does not come with a built-in battery anyway. Thus, it is more suitable to function as a bookshelf speaker or as an extension for your home theater setup alone or with a second model as a stereo pair. Sound-wise, the HomePod features a high-excursion woofer and a ring of seven horn-loaded tweeters, each with its own amplifier. So, you end up with a total of eight drivers, each accompanied by their own amplifiers.

There are also a total of seven microphones, six of which are responsible for recording your voice to control Siri. Another is a "low-frequency calibration microphone for automatic bass correction," as Apple stated on a HomePod service page.

Apple wants to improve the sound quality with beamforming as well as computational audio. The HomePod adjusts its sound via room recognition depending on its placement in your home. Thus, the audio quality should be optimal even in corners or on shelves.

The Apple HomePod also connects to other devices via 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO and Bluetooth 5.0. You can play music on the speaker via Apple's HomeKit, AirPlay 2, and the Home app, but it cannot be used as a Bluetooth speaker. You cannot play music by connecting a cable to it, either.

There is another drawback in 2022: Apple no longer officially offers the HomePod. You will have to resort to remaining stock sales and second-hand purchases. If you managed to get a HomePod at a good price, you can expect a powerful smart speaker with seamless integration into the Apple universe.

Apple HomePod mini: Screams in color

Apple HomePod mini on the table
The HomePod mini is comparatively cheap with an MSRP of $99. / © Apple; Screenshot: NextPit

With the HomePod mini, Apple introduced a second smart speaker a few years after the HomePod's debut. The mini model is significantly smaller and lighter with a weight of 345 grams, a height of just under 8.5 centimeters, and a diameter of 9.7 centimeters. There is only room for two passive woofers and one tweeter in the HomePod mini. Apple placed four microphones in the microphone to cater to Siri's voice recognition.

Like the bigger-sized HomePod, the mini model can be used as a stereo pair. It is also compatible with AirPlay 2 and comes in white, yellow, orange, blue, and space gray. Apple has not integrated any technical updates with 802.11n and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity. Instead, there is an ultra-wideband chip that allows you to track the HomePod in your home via iPhone.

Although the HomePod mini is much more portable, it does not have an internal battery, just like its big brother. So, unless you own a PowerStation, you will have to use the HomePod mini wired in your apartment or house.

Compared to the HomePod, the mini model is also surprisingly affordable. Apple offers a recommended retail price of just $99 for its HomePod mini. Moreover, the small HomePod will still be available in stores in July 2022.

Which HomePod model is the right one for you?

The answer to this question is actually quite simple: since Apple will only sell the HomePod mini in 2022, you will have to choose the small model, there are no two ways about it. Online retailers no longer offer the OG HomePod either. With a little luck, you can find some remaining stock online or in retail stores, or you can buy a used Apple HomePod online.

Before you go to great lengths to procure one, however, you should listen to the sound of the HomePod mini for yourself. If you don't want to return the device, you can also get a live impression at your local Apple Store or electronics retailer. If you're satisfied, you're buying a high-quality and pleasant-sounding little smart speaker with the HomePod mini.

Which HomePod do you prefer?
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Since several HomePod models can be used at the same time, you can also achieve a much better sound quality with a bit of creativity. However, Multiroom support is especially recommended for seamless music enjoyment throughout the home.

Which HomePod would you choose? And are you looking forward to more smart speaker/HomePod articles in the coming weeks? Let us know in the comments!

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