Apple's just announced an all-new second-generation of HomePod, the brand's take on a full-fat smart speaker. The HomePod 2 follows the HomePod Mini, a smaller smart speaker in the general style of an Amazon Echo.
With the HomePod 2, Apple's promising "significantly" improved sound quality and better smart home functionality thanks to some key upgrades under the hood, like supporting the Matter smart home standard, among other changes.
At What Hi-Fi?, we loved the HomePod Mini, giving it five-stars in our review, and while we'll have to get our hands on a HomePod 2 to tell you specifics on how it stacks up against the Mini, we're here now to take a look at how the two compare with one another, thanks to all the details Apple's already released.
So sit back, relax, and strap in as we tell you all about the differences, on paper, between Apple's HomePod Mini and the all-new HomePod 2...
Apple HomePod 2 vs HomePod Mini: price
The HomePod Mini retails at £99 / $99 / AU$149, while Apple's new HomePod is set to retail for £299 / $299 / AU$479 when it ships on 3rd February 2023. Naturally, the HomePod Mini is a miniature version of the original, so it only makes sense that the Mini has the HomePod 2 beat in price.
As far as the original HomePod goes, that launched at £319 / $349, so the HomePod 2 is aiming for a more aggressive, cheaper price point than its predecessor. Nonetheless, the HomePod 2 is packing in a bunch of tech that may well justify its more expensive price over the cheaper Mini.
All told, though, if you're looking for the cheapest HomePod around, that honour certainly goes to the HomePod Mini.
Apple HomePod 2 vs HomePod Mini: design
Apple's HomePod 2 looks about the same as the original HomePod, but it's certainly a departure from the Mini. As the name implies, the biggest difference between the HomePod 2 and the HomePod Mini comes down to size, with the HomePod Mini measuring about half the height of the HomePod 2 and roughly two-thirds the width, give or take a couple of millimetres.
As you can see, the Mini is more cylindrical, more ball-shaped, in the vein of an Amazon Echo, while the HomePod 2 has a similar rounded look but is chunkier and more on the cylindrical side of things. The HomePod 2 looks much more like a standard smart speaker, though both share the same mesh fabric cover.
Both the HomePod 2 and HomePod Mini are designed to be relatively hands-off, meaning you won't be finding ancient physical buttons anywhere but instead top-panel touch screens you can tap to play, pause, skip, go back, activate Siri, or adjust the volume up or down to your liking.
Put simply, both the HomePod 2 and HomePod Mini look to be sleek, well-crafted devices with a lot of overlap in terms of design language, while the Mini is the smaller, more ball-shaped device of the two.
Apple HomePod 2 vs HomePod Mini: features
In terms of most features you'd want out of your HomePod 2 or HomePod Mini, you can do just about anything with either. Both devices won't have any trouble streaming music, radio, podcasts and whatever else from major services like Apple Music, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and more. Plus, of course, you can rely on Siri with either for voice controls, news, weather, appointments, and more.
Both the HomePod 2 and HomePod Mini can work together with other HomePods to create a multi-room system or offer up stereo sound, too. Bring your iPhone close to either HomePod and you can have it take control of the music you've got playing, if you want. Plus, both come with AirPlay 2 support.
The HomePod Mini has got temperature and humidity sensors that, with a recent update, are set to enable features like blasting a siren when it detects carbon monoxide or smoke. Whether those same features are also available on the new HomePod 2 are yet to be tested.
Both the HomePod 2 and HomePod Mini are also set to get sound recognition via a software update coming this Spring that will allow you to set up alerts if your HomePod detects a certain noise, like the sound of a break-in.
The big feature differences between the two come down to the HomePod 2 bringing Apple's S7 chipset first seen in Apple Watch Series 7, support for spatial audio, and upgraded room-sensing tech that can intelligently scan an environment and optimise sound accordingly. You're also getting Matter integration with the HomePod 2 that looks to potentially open up HomePod for more robust smart home compatibility instead of locking it to Apple's ecosystem.
Outside of raw audio performance, Apple looks to be aiming to make the Mini and HomePod 2 roughly the same in terms of features, with a few exceptions. Of course, you'll have to hang tight for our official review of the HomePod 2 as well as our updated thoughts on whatever new features make their way to the HomePod Mini for a thorough, final picture.
Apple HomePod 2 vs HomePod Mini: sound quality
As you might expect, before we actually get some testing in with Apple's HomePod 2 we can't tell you too much about how it sounds just yet, but there are definitely a few takeaways to be had from Apple's press release.
First up, Apple is claiming that HomePod 2 will have "incredible audio quality, with rich, deep bass and stunning high frequencies" courtesy of a custom-engineered 4-inch high-excursion woofer. Apple also promises a powerful motor that drives the diaphragm a remarkable 20mm, built-in bass-EQ mic, and a beamforming array of five horn-loaded tweeters around the base, each with its own neodymium magnet, that "work together to achieve a powerful acoustic experience".
Plus, thanks to HomePod 2's new S7 chip, Apple is planning to offer "even more advanced computational audio that maximises the full potential of its acoustic system for a groundbreaking listening experience". As mentioned above, though, we'll all have to wait and see how the performance of the HomePod 2 measures up to the grandiose claims of Apple's crack marketing department.
In our original review of the HomePod Mini, we said it had a "sophisticated, engaging sound" while noting that the Mini brought "much less oomph compared to the full-sized HomePod". Considering that the HomePod 2 is positioned as an upgrade over the original HomePod, we'd expect the gulf between HomePod 2 and HomePod Mini to be greater than that of the gap between the original HomePod and HomePod Mini, but that's something testing will have to bear out.
Both the original HomePod and HomePod Mini have got spatial and lossless support after launch via software updates, and while Apple has talked about spatial audio on the HomePod 2, the company hasn't mentioned lossless. Nonetheless, it would be rather odd for the last generation to support that while the latest kit doesn't, so we'd expect the same support on HomePod 2.
Either way, we'll have to test out the spatial and lossless support on HomePod 2 to not only be sure if the support is there but if it's any good. All told, if sound quality is your top priority, then on paper the HomePod 2 is likely the pick.
Apple HomePod 2 vs HomePod Mini: early verdict
Essentially, the HomePod Mini will do just about everything the HomePod does in terms of features, outside of a few exceptions. The big difference between these two pieces of kit comes down to the Mini's significantly cheaper price point and the more expensive HomePod 2's likely much more robust sound quality.
Of course, testing will tell us more about HomePod 2's audio quality, but it's probably pretty safe to say that if you don't plan on using a smart speaker to listen to much music with but rather want it for its smart features, the Mini is the way to go. And if you do intend to use your smart speaker as more of a speaker, you may end up better served by spending the extra cash on the HomePod 2.
Check back on this page later on for our updated thoughts post-testing.
Read our in-depth Apple HomePod 2 review
As well as our Apple HomePod Mini review