After more than a half-decade (aka an eternity in consumer tech terms), the second generation Apple HomePod has finally arrived.
Apple debuted its first-ever smart speaker at WWDC in 2017, and it entered the market in early 2018 with best-in-class sound, Siri, HomeKit integration, and a hefty price tag.
In late 2020, a smaller and cheaper HomePod mini was released, just a few months before its larger sibling was officially discontinued.
The HomePod sequel arrives two years later with the same instantly identifiable shape (just a fraction of an inch shorter than the original), revised hardware for increased audio performance, and enhanced connected home features.
The newcomer’s $299 price tag is $50 lower than that of its predecessor at launch, but it remains costly by today’s smart speaker standards.
I’ve been using the new HomePod for a week and it’s nothing short of fantastic. Apple made the follow-up worth the long wait and significant cost by correcting the faults of the prior generation, broadening its everyday usability, and lowering its price.
Fantastic Audio Quality
Like its predecessor, the HomePod has excellent audio quality. The speaker’s rich, deep, and endlessly pleasurable sound comes from five tweeters and a large high-excursion woofer.
From classical to vocal jazz to beats-infused trip-hop, the speaker offered bright treble, harmonized midrange, and powerful-yet-accurate bass.
Despite having fewer tweeters, the new HomePod sounds better (5 vs. 7). Its bass power and precision even at high volumes impressed me.
The first-generation HomePod boomed in such situations. The sequel’s low-range delivery is more restricted, letting the vocals and instrumentals shine without sacrificing strength or accuracy.
The Apple S7 chip and inbuilt bass microphone power the new HomePod’s acoustics. The former real-time optimizes the speaker’s acoustic performance based on its surroundings and content. Its A13 Bionic chip is generations ahead of the Apple A8 chip in the original HomePod.
The inbuilt bass microphone monitors and calibrates lows for dependably good output. The original HomePod’s bass was fun, but its successor was better.
Stereo HomePods produce stunning sound. This setup can outperform more expensive and less space-efficient audio systems.
Two HomePods and the latest Apple TV 4K streaming device can play Dolby Atmos-enhanced home theatre sound.
I replaced a top-shelf soundbar and appreciated the sonic experience—the double-digit audio drivers between the two Apple speakers provided a new level of immersion.
HomePod’s home entertainment capabilities don’t end with an Apple TV 4K. The media player links the speaker to other TV-compatible electronics (e.g., cable box, video game console, etc.).
The HomePod’s four microphones met my high expectations. Even with loud music, the speaker heard my “Hey, Siri” requests. The calls went well too.
For Apple users, the new HomePod is without a doubt the best smart speaker. The outstanding sound quality, simplicity of use, and extensive smart home features make it worthwhile to click the buy button, especially if you’ve already committed to the Apple universe.
If your budget allows it, the HomePod is the centerpiece to purchase if you already possess an Apple device like an iPhone or iPad but haven’t made the switch to a linked home. Its superior acoustics and user-friendly features will serve as constant reminders that your money was well spent.
If the Apple smart home convenience is important to you but you don’t want to spend $300, think about the HomePod small.
Similar smart home features, such as active temperature and humidity sensors (Apple enabled them with iOS 16.3), Matter compatibility, and upcoming sound detection, will be provided by the smaller speaker for less than $100.