It really depends on your audio quality requirements and budget. The 2nd generation HomePod is a higher-end speaker that delivers an incredibly satisfying sound experience. But for about a third of the price, you can get a HomePod mini that delivers sound that’s good enough for most uses. In fact, you can buy a HomePod mini to make a stereo pair and still save $100 over HomePod.
When Apple released the HomePod in February 2018, it was generally praised as a great speaker. But with a high price tag and a lot of competition from Amazon and Google smart speakers, the HomePod has found itself at a disadvantage. Then, in November 2020, Apple introduced HomePod mini, which offers many of the same features as HomePod at a much lower price.
The arrival of the HomePod mini meant that those who wanted Apple’s smart speaker no longer had to pay up to $299/£299, and this may well be why Apple discontinued the original HomePod in March 2021. Most people seemed to prioritize price over sound. quality for the past two years, HomePod mini was the only smart speaker you could buy from Apple.
This changed in January 2003 when Apple reintroduced a larger HomePod with very minor changes from the original model. In this article, we’ll take a look at how HomePod 2nd Gen compares to HomePod mini. We’ll also look at some of the differences between the 2023 HomePod and the HomePod introduced by Apple in 2018.
HomePod vs HomePod mini: Specs
|HomePod mini||HomePod (2nd generation)||HomePod (1st generation)|
|Woofers||Full range driver||High Throw Woofer||High Throw Woofer|
|tweeters||Dual passive radiators with forced suppression||Five-beam tweeter array||Array of seven beamforming tweeters|
|Siri in the far field||Array of four microphones||Array of four microphones||Array of six microphones|
|Audio technology||Individual acoustic waveguide for 360º sound field||Room Sensing, Spatial Audio, Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital Surround Sound||Room Sensing, Spatial Audio, Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital Surround Sound|
|Stereo||Stereo pair compatible with other HomePod mini||Stereo pair compatible with another HomePod (2nd generation)||Stereo pair compatible with another HomePod (1st generation)|
|Multiroom||Multiroom audio||Multiroom audio||Multiroom audio|
|Wi-Fi||802.11n (Wi-Fi 4)||802.11n (Wi-Fi 4)||Wi-Fi 802.11ac with MIMO (Wi-Fi 5)|
|Bluetooth||bluetooth 5.0||bluetooth 5.0||bluetooth 5.0|
|Sensory||Temperature and Humidity||Temperature and Humidity||–|
|Ultra broadband||Ultra wideband (U1)||Ultra wideband (U1)||–|
|Smart home devices||A thread||A thread||–|
HomePod vs HomePod mini: Price
When HomePod was first released in 2018, it was quite expensive at $349. Over time, this dropped to $299 / £279 before the original HomePod was discontinued. Now, with the arrival of the 2023 HomePod, the price is $299 / £299.
The HomePod mini, on the other hand, retails for $99/£99 (in the UK, the price dropped to £89 for a while before falling back to £99). You will see the best prices right now below:
The big question is: why buy a HomePod when you can buy three mini HomePods for the same price? The main reason to buy HomePod over HomePod mini is the sound quality. While the mini is a good speaker, the larger HomePod offers significantly better sound than the smaller model, and music lovers should definitely go with the more expensive model.
HomePod vs HomePod mini: Design
The 2nd generation HomePod is nearly identical to the original HomePod with the same mesh look, but there are some differences. The display at the top is slightly larger, and instead of the white and space gray of the original, color options are available: white or midnight, which is slightly darker than the space gray original.
HomePod mini comes in five colors: space gray and white, as well as blue, yellow and orange. It’s also half the size of a standard HomePod and is more spherical, but has a grid and display on top, making it recognizable as a HomePod.
Here is a size comparison:
- HomePod mini: 3.3″ high x 3.9″ wide, 0.76 lb (84.3 x 97.9 mm, 345 grams)
- HomePod (2nd generation): 6.6″ high x 5.6″ wide, 5.16 lbs (168 x 142 mm, 2.3 kg)
- HomePod (1st generation:) 6.8″ high x 5.6″ wide, 5.5 lbs (172 x 142 mm, 2.5 kg)
All HomePods have a built-in power cable that cannot be unplugged (it was possible to pull the cable out of the original HomePod, which could damage the speaker). We wish Apple included a battery in the HomePod so it doesn’t need to be plugged into the wall and can be truly portable, but that hasn’t happened yet.
HomePod vs HomePod mini: sound quality and features
As we have already pointed out, the main difference between the two types of HomePod is in the audio capabilities. Inside the 2nd generation HomePod is a speaker array consisting of five beamforming tweeters and a high-frequency woofer with a dedicated amplifier. Curiously, the 1st generation HomePod had seven tweeters as well as more microphones (six in the old model, four in the new one).
The larger HomePod also includes a low-frequency calibration EQ microphone that, combined with room recognition technology, allows the HomePod to monitor and analyze acoustics, adjust audio frequencies, and maximize acoustic performance based on the environment.
The size of the HomePod’s mini body means it can’t fit all that audio brilliance, so it has fewer speakers and microphones than the larger model, but it does offer a “full-range driver” and “dual passive radiators” that Apple says provide “deep bass and crisp highs”. In our testing, we found that the sound quality was not as deep as the larger HomePod and was particularly lacking in bass, but still powerful enough to fill a room with sound, especially if you pick up a couple of them and set them up as stereo speakers.
With the HomePod 15.1 software update, HomePod and HomePod mini offer support for Apple’s lossless audio compression technology, so you can play music from 16-bit/44.1kHz (CD quality) to 24-bit/192kHz. HomePod also supports Dolby Atmos and Spatial Audio, while HomePod mini does not. HomePod mini also doesn’t support Dolby Digital 7.1 or Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound like the larger HomePod. So if you want to use the HomePod as part of a home theater system, especially as part of a stereo pair, a standard HomePod might be a better choice.
HomePod vs HomePod mini: Features and Sound Quality
Not only is the number of tweeters and microphones different, HomePod and HomePod mini are powered by different Apple chips.
- HomePod mini: S5 (Apple Watch Series 5 and Apple Watch SE)
- HomePod (2nd generation): S7 (apple watch series 7)
- HomePod (1st generation): A8 (iPhone 6)
We were surprised to find that the 2nd generation HomePod is powered by the Apple Watch processor, which is a bit of a step back from the A8 in the original HomePod. Apple opted for a chip suited to the compact design over the power of the more modern iPhone chip, but we’re guessing there’s enough power in the Watch’s chip to justify the move.
Also surprising is the fact that the 2nd generation HomePod supports slower Wi-Fi than the first HomePod. The original model supported 802.11ac, better known as Wi-Fi 5. The new HomePod uses the legacy Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n) standard, just like HomePod mini. The 2023 HomePod, like the mini and the original HomePod, still has Bluetooth 5 instead of 5.3.
All HomePods can be used as a stereo pair, but you cannot pair different types of HomePod together. So you can’t pair a HomePod mini with a HomePod, and you can’t even pair a 1st generation HomePod with a 2nd generation HomePod.
The 2nd generation HomePod and HomePod mini are equipped with the Apple U1 chip (which was not in the original HomePod). U1 lets you “switch” music playback from your iPhone (11 or later) to your HomePod so you can keep listening to music when you leave or enter your home. You can also view media controls without unlocking your iPhone and receive personalized listening recommendations.
However, HomePod cables are different: the HomePod mini cord has a USB-C cable like the original HomePod and the newer HomePod. Rather, it comes with an Apple USB-C 20W power adapter. If you lose it, any 20W USB-C charger will do, but it must be 20W.
HomePod 2nd generation and HomePod mini also have a temperature and humidity sensor to monitor the conditions in the room they are in. In addition, the larger HomePod also listens for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and can send alerts to your iPhone when detected. .
Both HomePod mini and 2nd generation HomePod include Thread support that can be used as a home hub for Matter devices. And all Apple HomePod speakers offer Siri support for a variety of purposes, including playing music, setting alarms and timers, and sending messages.
HomePod vs HomePod mini: Buying Tips
There are several good reasons why the 2nd generation HomePod is better than the HomePod mini. If you care a lot about sound quality or need support for Dolby Atmos and Spatial Audio, then HomePod is the only option. But if, like the vast majority of people, you’re only looking for a decent smart speaker to use with Apple Music or Spotify, then the HomePod mini will do the job for a fraction of the price.