Apple HomePod vs. HomePod Mini: A smart speaker shootout

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

Also impressive is the HomePod Mini (especially for its small size).

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Both thread-enabled options offer mesh fabric and backlit touch surfaces, support for stereo pairing functionality and multiroom audio, and temperature and humidity sensors.

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

$300 on Best Buy

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performance

Apple HomePod mini and HomePod side by side on a black surface.

Credit: Review / Mark Saltzman

The second-gen HomePod’s impressive sound quality can actually bounce audio around large rooms, providing a satisfying listening experience.

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

Along with its Apple-designed high-excursion woofer for deep bass, with “beamforming” calibration tech that bounces audio around the room to bounce off surfaces (like walls) for more delivery, there are five tweeters for optimized delivery, which are slightly is at an upward angle. A balanced experience.

That, and there’s support for Apple Music tracks with 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 in stereo pairing). .

The HomePod Mini also offers rich acoustics—surprisingly, really, given that it’s out of such a small enclosure—but the full-range driver and dual passive radiators (speaker diaphragms without magnets) deliver solid bass performance and crisp high frequencies.

Despite its small size, the HomePod Mini also impresses with volume levels suitable for small to medium-sized rooms (even at maximum volume, there’s not much distortion).

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

Notably, the HomePod has four far-field beamforming microphones, compared to the HomePod Mini’s three microphone array, but Siri never had a problem understanding me on either speaker.

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

Our pick: HomePod (2nd Generation)
$300 on Best Buy

Price

Apple HomePod Mini with LED lights sitting on top of wooden surface.

Credit: Review / Mark Saltzman

The price of the HomePod Mini has been cut by more than half due to its size. But don’t worry, there is no loss in its performance because of that.

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

Small in size and price, the HomePod Mini is a worthy contender for music lovers, at a more reasonable $99. Also, it comes in more colors than its big brother: space gray, blue, white, yellow and orange.

Our pick: HomePod Mini
$100 on Best Buy

Features and smart platform

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

Both also conveniently include temperature and humidity sensors, should you want to know that information, and can alert you in the future if levels get too high or low for your liking.

While the HomePod Mini has an older S5 chip (found in 2019’s Apple Watch Series 5) and the HomePod (2nd gen) has a beefier S7 chip (2021’s Apple Watch Series 7), there’s no discernible difference in performance (although Apple once said the S7 offers a 20 percent performance improvement over the S5, but that was in the Apple Watch SE).

Both speakers can act as smart home hubs, with Thread support for better compatibility and security than other platforms (taking advantage of HomeKit and Matter accessories).

For both speakers, note that you need an iOS device such as an iPad or iPhone. Android devices simply do not work with these speakers.

Our pick: HomePod (2nd Generation)
$300 on Best Buy

design

Apple HomePod Mini and HomePod side by side on a black surface.

Credit: Review / Mark Saltzman

As its name suggests, the HomePod Mini is small, measuring just 3.3 inches. Plus, 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) if you touch it to activate Siri, play or pause a track, or adjust or turn down the volume.

In addition to being more compact, the HomePod Mini is rounder—about the shape of a softball—compared to the more cylindrically shaped HomePod (it’s taller as it is wider and longer).

The choice of design boils down to personal tastes, but both have their charms.

Props to the HomePod Mini’s smaller footprint, allowing you to place it in more places in the room, such as on a small bookshelf, kitchen counter, or end-table. There are also additional colors for the HomePod Mini, for those who prefer to match their decor, compared to just two options on the latest HomePod.

But the HomePod Mini’s design downside is the power cable that can’t be removed from the speaker. With the HomePod (2nd generation), you can use any traditional figure-8 power cable if you wish.

Our choice: bind
$300 on Best Buy

$100 on Best Buy

And the winner is…

HomePod (2nd Generation)

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

Credit: Review / Mark Saltzman

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

Granted, it costs three times as much, but the new HomePod is a better speaker than the HomePod Mini.

But make no mistake: the HomePod Mini holds its own, and is surprisingly good despite its small size and price.

While the two share many of the same features, the HomePod Mini’s pricier sibling has a bolder and richer performance, and supports more Apple Music features like lossless tracks and (for those who like it) spatial audio. Perhaps the room-sensing tech, not found in the HomePod Mini, also helps fill the space with well-balanced music.

Audiophiles, especially in larger rooms, may want to consider investing in HomePod (2nd generation) speakers or a soundbar of sorts for its better audio fidelity.

At the same time, those with a small space and budget won’t have buyer’s remorse after treating their ears to the HomePod Mini.

$300 on Best Buy

$100 on Best Buy

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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