If you're an Apple user in the market for a Siri-powered smart speaker, Apple's HomePods are easily your best option. And with two brilliant, five-star models that are the best-sounding smart speakers in their respective price bands, it's a good time to buy.
There are two models to choose from: the latest HomePod 2 (£299 / $299 / AU$479) and the smaller, more affordable HomePod Mini (RRP £99, $99, AU$149). The original HomePod (launch price £319 / $349 in 2018) was discontinued back in 2020.
Both current models are five-star devices, offering excellent value sound, typically impressive Apple design and unrivalled user experiences for iOS device owners. They're clever smart speakers, but they're even better wireless speakers in their own right.
What's more, both HomePods have similar features: they both operate seamlessly with your Apple devices, use AirPlay 2 for wireless streaming (there's no Bluetooth) and both support Apple Music Lossless and Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos. That means you can stream lossless tracks up to 24-bit/48kHz quality through both HomePods, while the Dolby Atmos 3D immersive effect works well in both single speaker mode and as a stereo pair.
The company has also launched Apple Music Voice Plan, which delivers half-price subscription if you only use Siri.
Of course, you really need to be a dedicated Apple user to get the most features out of them. After all, you need an iOS device to set them up and an Apple Music subscription is necessary if you want to make the most of their excellent music curation features via Siri voice control. Apple Music is still the only streaming service that Siri can control, too. (Sorry Tidal and Spotify fans.)
Discounts on Apple products are rare, and you certainly won't find any deals when the new HomePod 2 officially goes on sale on 3rd February 2023. But there are usually some nice deals to be had on the cheaper HomePod Mini. So, which HomePod speaker is right for you? Read on to find out.
Apple HomePod 2
The new HomePod 2 is the best-sounding smart speaker you can buy at this price, throwing out a clear, weighty and energetic sound that trumps (cheaper) rivals from Sonos and Amazon.
The HomePod 2 is smarter (Siri voice control is improved), is compatible with more smart tech (thanks to new Matter platform support) and it's even more flexible in terms of placement than before (its new S7 chip cleverly analyses and optimises the sound in real-time using several mics - mighty impressive).
Crucially, it sounds even better than before. Apple has made considerable improvements under the hood to the driver arrangement (a high-excursion woofer and five tweeters) that result in an impressive performance from the bigger speaker.
It sounds tighter, more organised and voices in particular are delivered with clarity and warmth. The sound is spacious and three-dimensional, particularly with Dolby Atmos tracks and in a stereo pair. And basslines, meanwhile, have vastly more weight and presence than a speaker this size has any right to produce, yet it’s never overbearing or flabby. Overall it's more engaging, exciting and enjoyable to listen to.
Combine two HomePods with an Apple TV 4K and you’d also get a viable home cinema system – a wildcard option that’s well worth considering.
Apple HomePod Mini
The HomePod Mini, meanwhile, is effetively the HomePod 2 on a smaller scale. It's even smaller than the Amazon Echo Dot, but delivers an enjoyably detailed, organised and sophisticated sound for the price – you wouldn't believe such a tiny speaker was capable of such an authoritative performance. It's a mini musical marvel.
It delivers superb sonics thanks to Apple's S5 chip, which is said to analyse and optimise the performance over 180 times per second. A single full-range driver, held by a suspension system to reduce distortion, is flanked by two passive radiators designed to help create a bigger, weightier sound. For a speaker of its size and price, it offers an astonishingly good performance.
Remember, it packs in all the Siri, lossless and spatial audio tech as the newer HomePod 2, so it's quite the bargain at this sub-£100/$100/AU$150 price. And unlike its bigger sibling, the HomePod Mini comes in a range of colourful finishes: yellow, orange, blue, space grey and white. We usually see discounts across specific finishes during the winter sales period.
Read our full Apple HomePod 2 review
Read our full Apple HomePod Mini review
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Our definitive guide to the best smart speakers