HomePod vs HomePod Mini: comparing the Apple smart speakers

Curious about Apple's updated HomePod speaker? We dig into the details to see if it's better than the the HomePod mini

Apple HomePod (1st Gen)
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple shocked everyone recently when the company finally revealed that it's been working on an updated HomePod speaker more than a year after the first one was discontinued. Since early 2021, the HomePod mini has been flying the flag for Apple in the smart home space, but now it once again has to deal with some sibling rivalry. 

The new HomePod launches on Feb 3, 2023, and details have already been released. Having spent years testing the best smart speakers and recently getting hands-on experience with the HomePod mini, we thought it was an excellent opportunity to see whether Apple's newest entry into the smart home arena could measure up.

Keep reading to see what we thought and how the HomePod competes - if at all - with the HomePod mini. 

What's new about the HomePod (Gen 2)?

Apple's new HomePod looks almost identical to the first-generation model, though its internal components have been changed. The first thing to note is that it's a lot lighter than its predecessor, and the touch screen on top takes up more space. Otherwise, the fabric casing remains the same and is made up of 100% recycled materials.

Apple claims that the HomePod (2nd Gen) will produce a much better and more immersive audio experience, despite losing two tweeters. Sound quality is arguably what sets Apple's range of smart speakers apart since even the best Alexa speakers struggle in this department. There are also two fewer microphones, but again, Apple doesn't see this as a downgrade since the remaining five will be able to adapt music and audio to their surroundings.

You will be able to pair more than one HomePod (2nd Gen) with an Apple TV 4K streaming device, creating home cinema audio on top of everything else.

On the smart home side of things, the speaker is Apple's big entry into the Matter arena, with support for the new standard. It also has built-in temperature and humidity sensors, as well as the ability to listen for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and alert you accordingly.

apple homepod mini

(Image credit: Apple)

What's great about the HomePod Mini?

The HomePod mini has been the only game in town for Apple smart home enthusiasts since 2021, and it says something that most people - us included - have been perfectly happy over that time. The Mini might not sound as impressive as the HomePod, but its audio is still superior to a lot of its competitors.

The big sell for the HomePod mini now is its price, which is dwarfed by its big sister's $299 price tag. Available for $99, the mini is amazingly cheap for any Apple product, especially one that's this good at what it does. It also comes in more colors - white, yellow, orange, blue, or black - while the HomePod (2nd Gen) is only released in white and black.

The design is also very different and smaller, making it easier to find a place for it. The HomePod mini looks great on a bookshelf, mantlepiece, or bedside table, but the HomePod (2nd Gen) makes its presence more known.

Apple HomePod (1st Gen)

Apple HomePod (1st Gen)

(Image credit: Apple)

Can you still buy the original HomePod?

The first HomePod was first released in 2018 and discontinued in 2021, with no successor to take its place. Those wondering whether Apple would ever update its flagship speaker have been going off of rumors and hearsay ever since. In the meantime, the first HomePod has begun to disappear from the few retailers still offering it. Your only choice now is to get it second-hand or opt for the new release.

Apple HomePod vs HomePod Mini in yellow

(Image credit: Apple)

What's the difference between the HomePod and HomePod Mini in 2023? 

As previously explained, the biggest difference between the HomePod (2nd Gen) and the HomePod mini is the pricing. While the new HomePod is actually selling for cheaper than its predecessor, it's still very much in the premium market, while the mini sits at the budget end of the scale.

Otherwise, differences are in the details, as the mini lacks spatial audio and room mapping for the best audio experience. Both have NFC handoff for transferring playback between the speaker and your iPhone (still no love for Android, sorry), and you'll be able to access HomeKit and compatible smart home devices on either.

We would recommend that those who want their smart home hub also to be a capable speaker opt for the HomePod (2nd Gen), but if you already have an Apple device or aren't too fussed about this aspect, the cheaper HomePod mini is our recommendation.

Caroline Preece
Smart Homes Ecommerce Editor

Caroline is the smart homes ecommerce editor for Livingetc, covering everything tech for the home, from smart speakers to air purifiers and everything in between. She is passionate about the role that technology and smart devices can play in daily life, enhancing the home without sacrificing personal style and carefully chosen interiors. In her spare time, she can be found tinkering with bulbs, soundbars, and video doorbells in an effort to automate every part of her small home. Previously, she lent her expertise to the likes of Expert Reviews, IT Pro, Coach, The Week, and more.