The Apple HomePod – the best-sounding smart speaker we've heard – now has a smaller sibling. Say hello to the aptly named Apple HomePod mini.
Apple has kicked off its iPhone 12 launch event at Apple Park today with the unveiling of its most affordable, diminutive smart speaker. The HomePod mini has been highly rumoured for, well, years – rumours date back to May 2018, when a Beats-branded HomePod idea was circulated – and now it is finally official.
What's surprising isn't its existence, but its price. While the HomePod launched in early 2018 at £319 ($349) – and hasn't dropped in price much since – the HomePod mini costs just £99 ($99). Amazon Echo, watch out...
In Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Spain, the UK, and the US, the HomePod mini can be pre-ordered from 5am PT on Friday 6th November, with availability beginning the week of 16th November.
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The Apple HomePod mini is true to its moniker – very similar in design and features to the HomePod, simply smaller. It's 3.3 inches tall, just under half the height of the HomePod. It too is covered in a mesh fabric cover (either white or space gray) and has a cylindrical shape, although arguably its modest dimensions make it more spherical.
The ever-evolving Siri experience is, of course, onboard for voice control, with three microphones listening out for that trusty ol' "Hey Siri" wake word. Apple Music is also at its core, complemented by iHeartRadio, radio.com and TuneIn radio services. In the coming months, Pandora and Amazon Music will be added, too.
Apple is promising "an audio experience unheard of at this size", which it says it can deliver thanks to audio processing capability of the Apple S5 chip inside. A full-range driver and pair of passive radiators output, with an acoustic waveguide designed to direct the sound down and out toward the bottom of the speaker for a 360-degree soundfield – just like the HomePod's approach.
As you'd expect, the HomePod mini has been designed to work harmoniously within the Apple ecosystem. When a music-playing iPhone or iPad is brought close to the mini, they automatically hand off music to the speaker. Apple is promising to enhance this experience with visual, audible, and haptic effects when sound transfers from one device to the other.
When two minis are placed in the same room, they can automatically play in stereo pair, too. Lastly, the HomePod mini introduces a new 'intercom' feature, allowing family members to send messages between HomePods in the home as well as the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods and CarPlay.
Apple and 'affordable' don't always go hand-in-hand, but we have to say we're excited by the HomePod mini's modest price tag. While the HomePod's price instantly set Apple's smart speaker offering apart from the competition – the Amazon Echo and Sonos One, for example – this new second addition to the family looks to get right into the competitive mix. We can't wait to hear how it stacks up.