The HomePod mini, a $99 Siri-equipped smart speaker, has arrived. As a smaller and more affordable follow-up to the original Apple HomePod, the new HomePod mini has arrived to battle category leaders like the Sonos One, Nest Audio and the always-evolving Amazon Echo.
In fact, this HomePod looks a lot like that new Amazon Echo. Or a Magic 8 ball, depending how you look at it. This circular home audio device is designed to deliver the ultimate HomeKit experience, or act as a hands-free hub for all the best HomeKit devices.
Colors: Space Grey, White
Features: S5 chip, UWB chip
Speakers: Driver, dual passive radiators
There's no shortage of smart speakers this year, and while Alexa and Google Assistant are considered the leading virtual butlers in the home space, Siri could be catching up with HomePod mini as its vehicle.
But will HomePod mini become one of the best smart speakers? Here's everything we know about Apple's latest attempt to make Siri a household name.
Apple HomePod mini: Price and availability
The HomePod mini costs $99, and will ship November 16.
At $99, the HomePod mini is Apple's "budget" smart speaker, though it's the same price as the Amazon Echo and Google Nest Audio.
Still, that's far cheaper than the original HomePod, which was initially $349, but now costs $299.
Apple HomePod mini: Design
HomePod mini will be 3.3 inches tall. The original HomePod measured a towering 6.8 inches, by comparison. It appears the HomePod Mini's size falls halfway between that of the cylindrical Amazon Echo (3rd Gen) and Amazon Echo Dot (3rd Gen), while adopting the price of Amazon's mid-range flagship.
The new speaker has a sleek, spherical design that looks somewhat similar to the new Amazon Echo, complete with touchscreen top that lights up when Siri is active. The new mesh-covered speaker will come in both space gray and white variations.
We're curious to see if the HomePod mini will have the same silicone base as the original HomePod, which damaged our furniture when we reviewed it.
As for the HomePod mini's interior design, the speaker is powered by Apple's S5 chip, which is the same as used in the Apple Watch SE and the Apple Watch Series 5 (the Apple Watch Series 6 uses an S6 chip). It also has Apple's U1 ultrawide band chip for effortless audio hand-off when an iPhone is nearby.
Apple HomePod mini: Audio
Unlike the full-size HomePod, which has seven tweeters, the HomePod mini only has two, as both a cost- and space-saving mechanism. Still, the Sonos One only has one tweeter and one mid-woofer, and is still the top smart speaker when it comes to audio performance.
In addition, we know that the HomePod mini has a full-range driver, full excursion passive radiators and acoustic wave guide for 360-degree sound. And if one isn't enough for your space HomePod mini can be stereo-paired with two in the same room and synced with multiple around the house.
Whether it sounds good will be determined with hands-on testing. We'll see how well the HomePod mini sounds across different genres and audio content.
Apple HomePod Mini: Siri and supported music services
Unlike Amazon and Google, Apple only places its voice assistant in the company's own smart speakers. HomePod mini will be the second-ever Siri smart speaker.
Similar to Siri on iPhones and Apple Watches, Siri on HomePod mini lets users ask for information and reminders hands-free. But it has a larger range — if your iPhone is out of reach or your Apple Watch is charging, your HomePod mini can carry out requests as far as your voice can reach.
You'll also be able to ask Siri to launch content from certain streaming platforms. Although Spotify is notably absent, users can access audio from Apple Music, Podcast, iHeart Radio and TuneIn, with Pandora and Prime Music coming at a later point.
Apple HomePod mini: Outlook
At $99, HomePod mini isn't exactly 'mini' in terms of price. The $50 Google Nest Mini and Amazon Echo Dot offer a lot of what you'll find in the HomePod mini for half the cost. We could even say HomePod mini is still Apple catching up to cheaper smart speaker alternatives.
Apple hasn't quite nailed its smart home experience yet. While HomeKit has improved in recent years, adding simple device set up options and expanded compatibility with third-party smart home products, it still has strides to make if it plans to out-connivence and out-perform Amazon and Google.
Whether the HomePod mini brings Apple closer to that goal will be determined with hands-on testing. Stay tuned for our thoughts and opinions on Apple's new smart speaker.