Apple has refreshed its smart speaker line-up with the addition of a new full-sized HomePod, and so if you’re someone who hasn’t yet added one of the Apple speakers to their home, how doe the HomePod 2nd Gen and HomePod Mini compare to each other?
Each speaker covers similar ground, so this guide will go the differences between them to clarify their purpose, and ultimately which smart speaker is the best choice if you’re deciding between the two.
The HomePod 2 is priced at £299, which is actually more expensive than the original HomePod was when it was first discontinued.
The HomePod mini is £99, which makes it £200 less expensive. There’s a reason for the gulf in price, of course, but if your first priority is to save money, then the HomePod mini is where you’ll be spending your cash.
The HomePod mini is about half as tall the full-sized HomePod, but they share a similar design language.
The most obvious difference is that the Mini is spherical rather than cylindrical in shape. Both come wrapped in a mesh fabric that’s intended not look good and aid acoustic performance. Both speakers also feature a backlit control surface on top for interaction with volume, playback and Siri.
The HomePod mini has a captive cable that powers the unit while the HomePod 2’s power cable can be detached. The detached cable is useful as if it’s damaged you won’t have to send the entire unit back.
Both come in gray and white variations to fit in with your home décor, another big difference between the two speakers is their dimensions and weight; the mini weighs 345g compared to the HomePod’s heftier 2.3kg.
Really, the main difference is space. Do you prefer a speaker with a smaller footprint? The Mini is the speaker to get. If you have the space for a bigger speaker on a desktop, one in which you wouldn’t mind listening to from across a room, consider getting the HomePod 2.
When it comes to both speakers’ specifications, they are pretty much a match with each other, so regardless of which speaker you get, they’ll offer a consistent experience.
The Ultra Wideband chip is integrated into both products and this allows for other compatible iOS products to sense when they’re close to one another and talk to each other, enabling faster data transfer and more accurate location tracking. The UWB chip is essentially how the initial setup process is started, which is achieved via Apple’s Home app.
Both support stereo pairing functionality but this is only possible with speakers of their ilk. For instance, you can only pair two HomePod 2’s, not a HomePod with a HomePod Mini as Apple say the intention is to get the correct audio balance and stereo image. You can, however, link the two speakers together via AirPlay to create a multi-room system to play audio.
While you could use a pair of Mini speakers to connect to an Apple TV 4K to act as surround speakers, the HomePod mini doesn’t support Dolby Atmos with Spatial Audio. If you a) have an Apple TV box and b) have access to Atmos soundtracks, you’ll want to choose the HomePod 2 over the Mini for a home cinema set-up.
Both HomePods integrate Apple’s Siri voice assistant, either speaker able to recognise the ‘Hey Siri’ command through their four-field microphone set-up and play music, or relay travel updates, news and sport, set timers, make calls or schedule appointments, and recognise the voice of each member in a household (up to six people).
Intercom is also another feature they share, which allows users to send an audio message from one device to another.
With regards to smart home, the speakers are a fairly even match. The HomePod 2 includes a temperature sensor to detect a room’s humidity and temperature, and it can also listen out for smoke or carbon monoxide alarms and inform the use. An update has enabled temperature and humidity sensors in the HomePod mini so the data if collects can be harvested to create automations relating to temperature control in the home.
Both HomePods have Matter compatibility and HomeKit support, again the HomePod mini has been updated to to support the former, allowing greater scope within a smart home for the speaker to ‘talk’ to other smart devices.
The HomePod features a 4-inch high-excursion woofer with a custom amplifier, five tweeters and internal low-frequency calibration microphones for automatic bass correction. Due to its smaller size, the HomePod mini doesn’t have the same driver configuration, featuring a full-range driver and dual passive radiators for deep bass and crisp high frequencies. There’s a custom acoustic waveguide to help disperse the sound from the speaker as well.
Both make use of computational audio for real-time tuning of the speaker’s sound, the mini’s S5 chip working alongside software to optimise loudness, adjust the dynamic range, and control the movement of the mini’s drivers and passive radiators 180 times a second. Apple says it’s capable of producing a sound similar to a bigger speaker and in our testing we found that claim to be on the money.
Bass isn’t as big as the HomePod 2, but the Mini does manage to produce a balanced performance across the frequency range, and its volume control is impressive, scaling well as it reaches full volume to avoid distortion and maintain clarity.
HomePod 2 is as versatile as the original HomePod and sounds great across a number of genres. Well balanced, with good dynamic shifts and big bass, it’s a speaker that can fill a room with sound quite easily (as can the HomePod mini)
The benefit here is the Dolby Atmos with Spatial Audio support that produces a more immersive feel to soundtracks with more depth to well mixed tracks. Both speakers sound excellent at their price points.
It’s a rather easy choice to make as Apple has made choosing between the two a simple decision. Both share a feature set that’s largely similar, so the first main difference is size and whether you want a small speaker and can accommodate a bigger one with a larger footprint.
The second choice is if you have an Apple TV box and whether you intend to watch content in Dolby Atmos. For home cinema purposes the HomePod 2 is the winner, and if you’re an Apple Music subscriber with access to the library of Spatial Audio mixes then that’s another reason to pick the 2nd Gen HomePod over the HomePod mini
Both are speakers we rate highly, and if you’re an iOS user, you have the options of choosing between two great smart speakers.