Apple finally lifted the lid on its second-generation HomePod 2 smart speaker at the end of January. And while it may look a lot like the original HomePod we reviewed all the way back in 2018, having had a chance to fully test it we can now confirm it represents a decent step forward from the original.
Make sure to check out our detailed Apple HomePod 2 review for an in-depth look at its performance and how we found using it, but below is an A-Z on everything you need to know about the new Apple speaker.
- Apple HomePod 2 vs HomePod Mini: which should you buy?
- Apple HomePod 2 vs HomePod: what are the differences?
Apple HomePod 2: price goes down
- Launch price more affordable than HomePod 1's
- Still costs significantly more than Sonos and Amazon rivals
The Apple HomePod 2 has launched at £299 / $299 / AU$479. This is a kinder price tag than the one the original HomePod arrived with – £319 / $349 / AU$499. Which is most welcome in a world of consumer technology that is generally seeing prices go northward.
Still, the HomePod remains pricier than the other smart speakers it rivals, including the Sonos One (£199 / $219 / AU$319) and Amazon Echo Studio (£190 / $200 / AU$329). And is, more logically, still much pricier than the HomePod Mini (£89 / $99 / AU$149) that sits below it in the two-strong lineup.
The HomePod 2 is likely to remain at its launch price for most of 2023, with Apple products tending to hold their RRPs in the initial year of their lives. That said, we certainly wouldn't rule out a first discount around Black Friday in November, or even for Prime Day if we're lucky.
Apple HomePod 2: release date in February
After years of waiting and following many months of rumours, the HomePod 2 was unveiled on 18th January 2023 – just shy of five years since the original HomePod launched (on 9th February 2018).
The HomePod 2 is available for preorder now in two finishes – midnight and white – on the Apple Store, with shipping commencing on 3rd February. That is when you should see the HomePod 2 hit other retailers too.
The first HomePod was actually discontinued in 2021 without an immediate successor, so while the arrival of a sequel often means discounts on a preceding model, sadly that won't be the case here.
Apple HomePod 2: same-same design
- Mostly identical but slightly shorter and 200g lighter
- Power cable now detachable for greater flexibility
At first glance, the HomePod 2 looks identical to the first-generation model we reviewed in 2018. It still has a cylindrical main body with a “100%” recycled woven finish grill and, save for being slightly shorter, stands around the same size too, meaning it will comfortably sit on most coffee tables or bookshelves without taking up too much space. The new HomePod is 200g lighter than the original too, though that isn't hugely beneficial considering the speaker isn't portable.
The only significant change is that Apple has made some unspecified upgrades to improve its touch control functionality, which we have always found to be the highlight of the HomePod's design. Unfortunately, the touch panel has shrunk a little, but on a more positive note significantly more of it illuminates when you invoke Siri or play a song, making it a far more compellingly colourful surface.
What we do very much like is that the power cable is now detachable, so owners have the option of replacing the supplied one for a longer one if they need to. Handy.
Ultimately, though, it's more of the same – and that's no bad thing at all.
Apple HomePod 2: improved sound
- More energetic and controlled than HomePod 1
- Real-time sound adaptation is impressively effective
Under the hood, Apple has made several big changes to the HomePod’s internals in the jump from first to second gen.
For starters, it has a different tweeter and mic setup. The new HomePod still has a single 4-inch woofer at the top capable of moving an impressive 20mm to allow it to dig deep and produce a louder, heftier sound. But while the original had seven tweeters, the HomePod 2 has only five. A downgrade? Apparently not, as these two fewer tweeters are simply more tightly packed and better angled than before.
Having tested the two speakers head-to-head, we can confirm the HomePod 2 does improve on the original, offering a more controlled low-end and generally more energetic sound. Just like that, the HomePod 1 is no longer the best-sounding smart speaker we have heard!
You can read more about how the HomePod 2 sonically performs in our five-star HomePod 2 review, however what you should know is that two HomePod 2s perform wonderfully in a stereo pair. "There’s even greater weight and solidity to the whole presentation, and both focus and spaciousness improve dramatically," we said. It is a shame that you can't pair the second-generation speaker with the original or a Mini, mind you.
The HomePod 2 performs a neat sonic trick in that it can improve its sound based on its location and positioning in a room, using a number of sensors and microphones that constantly measure the output in real time. It works effectively and quickly, too: when we moved it from a free space to somewhere closer to a wall, we could hear the sound adjusting and, after not long at all, sounded all the better for it.
Apple HomePod 2: amped-up features
- Still Apple-centric but Matter support should improve third-party compatibility
- Lovely Spatial Audio
- No Siri control for Spotify, Tidal etc
This is one of the neat capabilities of the HomePod 2's newer A7 chipset, which is the same seen originally on the Apple Watch Series 7, and apparently improves its beamforming, Spatial Audio and general smarts. Which is all very positive, by the way.
The new HomePod supports the Matter platform, meaning it should work with non-Apple smart tech better than its predecessor, which only played nice with other Apple products when we reviewed it. And Siri is, of course, onboard for hands-free Apple Music control and all the voice-command functions that iPhone users will be more than familiar with. The fact that the HomePod 2 can hear ‘Hey Siri’ commands from across the room, even when playing loudly, is a bonus too. Note that the HomePod still can't use Siri to navigate Spotify, Tidal and Amazon Music listening, though AirPlay 2 means they are still very much supported.
Naturally, the HomePod 2 supports Spatial Audio, which you’ll largely make use of in order to play Dolby Atmos tracks via Apple Music, though it can also be used for movies if you have an Apple TV 4K and want to use a HomePod 2 – or two! – to take the reigns of your TV sound.
The new speaker also features built-in temperature and humidity sensors which, combined with new software, lets users create smart home automation to do things like playing a siren when it detects smoke or carbon monoxide. The mics can also reportedly be set to alert you if the speaker detects certain noises, like signs of a break-in.
Ultimately, the HomePod 2 is more evolution than revolution, but to quote our review, "there are upgrades, and the new HomePod is smarter and even more flexible in terms of placement than before. It also, crucially, sounds even better". While the original HomePod was the best premium smart speaker Apple users could buy, the HomePod 2 now confidently takes on and lives up to that responsibility.
Read our five-star Apple HomePod 2 review
Read our definitive guide to the best wireless speakers
Apple HomePod 2 vs Sonos One: How do they compare?