Apple HomePod 2 vs HomePod Mini: what are the differences?

When Apple announced a follow-up to the original HomePod smart speaker, we were a tad surprised. It had been roughly five years since the first mainline model came out, and many users had given up hope altogether that we'd ever get a proper sequel. The fantastic HomePod Mini – one of Apple's most affordable products and a multiple What Hi-Fi? Award winner – has been around for a while to plug the gap somewhat, but it was hardly a fully-fledged, mainline sequel. 

The HomePod 2, happily, was entirely worth the wait. In fact, it's so good it's a current What Hi-Fi? Award-winner, dazzling us with its sophisticated, engaging sound, raft of smart skills and fantastic music discovery capabilities. 

Is the HomePod 2 right for you, though, or would you be better off with the more diminutive, and affordable, Mini? We've spent extensive amounts of time with both units both in the office, in our testing rooms and at home, so we know exactly what's what in the world of Apple's smart speakers. 

Apple HomePod 2 vs HomePod Mini: price

HomePod Mini

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

The HomePod Mini costs £99 / $99 / AU$149, while Apple's HomePod 2 currently retails at £299 / $299 / AU$479. That's quite the leap up in price, but we've found that you're getting what you pay for with each respective model, with neither unit feeling over-priced or lacking in value.  

The HomePod 2 is actually cheaper than 2018's original HomePod (that launched at £319 / $349), so that feels like a bit of a victory for the consumer, and it packs in a host of higher-end tech specs to take its performance to the next level. 

Discounts are pretty scarce right now for both smart speakers, although you can occasionally nab a small slice off the original asking price when sales events and deal periods roll around, even if it's rare for Apple to ever take off an entire chunk of cash in the same way that Amazon frequently slashes its Echo Dot by around 50 per cent.  

All told, if you're looking for the most purely affordable HomePod around, that honour goes to the HomePod Mini. 

**Winner: HomePod Mini**

Apple HomePod 2 vs HomePod Mini: design

Apple HomePod Mini hands on

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

Apple's HomePod 2 looks about the same as the original HomePod, but it's certainly a departure from the smaller Mini. As the name implies, the biggest difference between the HomePod 2 and the HomePod Mini comes down to size (you don't have to be a genius to work that one out), with the Mini measuring about half the height of the HomePod 2 and roughly two-thirds the width, give or take a couple of millimetres. 

Things go a little beyond pure size, though. The Mini is essentially a cylindrical, ball-shaped unit in the same vein as the Amazon Echo Dot (5th Gen), with a slightly cut-off top which sports a few basic controls via that rather attractive illuminated glass panel. The larger HomePod 2 is more cylindrical in its overall aspect, looking a lot more like your standard smart speaker in terms of its general shape and design. 

Inside, there are also key differences. The HomePod 2 employs a 10cm excursion woofer alongside an array of five horn-loaded tweeters, each with its own neodymium magnet. There's an internal low-frequency calibration microphone for automatic bass correction, while four microphones help to pick up Siri voice commands from a distance. 

The Mini, meanwhile, boasts a full-range driver and dual passive radiators, with an acoustic waveguide delivering a more three-dimensional soundfield from the small unit. Like its bigger brother, it also houses a four-mic design for what Apple terms "far-field Siri" voice commands, as well as real-time audio tuning. 

Both units share the same illuminated panel at the top, though, and both sport a tight, small-knit mesh fabric cover to add a touch of elegance to proceedings. Both the HomePod 2 and HomePod Mini are also designed to be relatively hands-off, meaning there aren't many physical buttons to be found, but that aforementioned top-panel touch screen will let you 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 are dapper, well-designed devices with plenty of general aesthetic overlap, with the former dwarfing its smaller, more ball-shaped counterpart by a considerable margin. That could be worth considering if you're very (very) tight on space. 

Down to personal needs and tastes, this one. 

**Winner: Tie**

Apple HomePod 2 vs HomePod Mini: features

Apple HomePod 2

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

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, TuneIn and more thanks to AirPlay 2 integration. Plus, of course, you can rely on Siri for voice controls, news, weather, appointments and the like, with only Amazon's Alexa really providing any meaningful competition on that front.

It's worth noting, of course, that both the HomePods are designed specifically to work with Apple Music, and that both work best when using Apple's dedicated music streaming platform via Siri voice control. Both speakers are excellent at finding, curating and recognising the tracks you want to play, but it's by far and away a more effective and enjoyable experience when deployed in tandem with an Apple Music subscription. Neither model, for instance, can use Siri voice to control third-party music services like Spotify or Tidal as yet, which is a shame.

What both the HomePod 2 and HomePod Mini can do, however, is work together with other HomePods to create a multi-room system or offer up stereo sound. 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, adding seamless wi-fi streaming without the need for Bluetooth. 

The HomePod Mini even has temperature and humidity sensors and blasts a siren when it detects carbon monoxide or smoke, something that you'll also find on the larger HomePod 2 model. We haven't explicitly tried either of these features out first-hand (it's not worth the fire damage), but it's quite the trick if it does work.  

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, more comprehensive and high-performance spatial audio, and upgraded room-sensing algorithms that can intelligently scan an environment and optimise sound accordingly. The Mini uses an older-gen S5 chip and still boasts real-time tuning as part of its spec sheet, but the HomePod 2 can take things much further thanks to the integration of the newer S7. 

This is where the HomePod 2 just slightly starts to show its value. Arranged between the woofer and tweeters sensors and microphones that measure HomePod's placement, collecting and analysing the data and then adjusting the speaker's sonic performance in real time whenever it's moved or re-positioned, so that the sound is as optimised as possible depending on where it's placed. It really works, too, and during testing we're happy to place our HomePod 2 anywhere, confident we'll be getting the best sound for the given location. 

All in all, the Mini is an excellent, and very clever, little smart accomplice - it's just not quite on the HomePod 2's level. 

**Winner: HomePod 2**

Apple HomePod 2 vs HomePod Mini: sound quality

HomePod Mini

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

Before we'd heard it for ourselves, Apple's claims that the HomePod 2 would have "incredible audio quality, with rich, deep bass and stunning high frequencies" sounded a little hyperbolic. Thankfully, any doubts we harboured about the second-gen speaker were unfounded, with a custom-engineered 10cm high-excursion woofer, built-in bass-EQ mic and smart beamforming array all working together to achieve some serious sonic firepower. The HomePod 2 is, when all's said and done, a genuine triumph.  

That advanced S7 chip certainly isn't hurting, either. As we stated in our review, "The HomePod 2 has boundless energy. Whether you’re playing a dancey number such as Caribou’s Never Come Back, the ridiculous ’80s-style metal of Kaisarion by Ghost or even a piece of classical music such as Arvo Pärt’s Tabula Rasa, the new HomePod’s enthusiasm is infectious." It's brilliantly spacious and three-dimensional, and its implementation of Dolby Atmos spatial audio really is breathtaking considering the size of the unit. To get any better, you'd have to seek out the larger, Award-winning Sonos Era 300.  

The Mini, though, is no slouch, and punches well beyond its weight and size. Our original review claimed it to boast a "sophisticated, engaging sound", noting that the spherical speaker brought "a level of nuance [that] is very rare at this level". Sure, it doesn't whack out the tunes with the same conviction and force as the HomePod 2, but what were you expecting considering the clear difference in price, size and internal specs between the two? 

Both HomePods support spatial audio with Dolby Atmos tracks and 24-bit lossless audio, too, from Apple Music and when connected to an Apple TV 4K.

Still, for pure sonic performance, the HomePod 2 takes the cake. Don't ignore the credentials of the Mini though, as it's still one of the finest-sounding smart speakers you'll find anywhere at its price. 

**Winner: HomePod 2**

Apple HomePod 2 vs HomePod Mini: Verdict

Apple HomePod 2 vs Apple HomePod

(Image credit: What Hi-FI?)

Essentially, the HomePod Mini will do much of what the HomePod 2 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.

What you do have here, though, is two five-star hugely capable performers that will be ideal for anyone locked into Apple's smooth-running, effortlessly usable ecosystem. We'd highly recommend either unit, meaning that your decision will be based on considerations of price, size, and a desire for a little more in the sound and features department as offered by the larger HomePod 2.  


Read our in-depth Apple HomePod 2 review

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Harry McKerrell
Staff writer

Harry McKerrell is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi?. During his time at the publication, he has written countless news stories alongside features, advice and reviews of products ranging from floorstanding speakers and music streamers to over-ear headphones, wireless earbuds and portable DACs. He has covered launches from hi-fi and consumer tech brands, and major industry events including IFA, High End Munich and, of course, the Bristol Hi-Fi Show. When not at work he can be found playing hockey, practising the piano or trying to pet strangers' dogs. 

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