Requires iOS device
About the HomePod Mini
We’ve come to hold Apple devices to a high standard. They have a track record of performance, quality materials, and seamless integration (if only with each other). The HomePod Mini is exactly what we expected: Apple quality and Apple’s proprietary ecosystem. It feels heavy in the hand, the power cord is thick and has a sturdy connection to the Mini's base, and the lights on top are beautiful, swirling colors like you'll see when you summon Siri on and iOS device. But how does it stack up to comparable smart speakers? Let’s dive in.
Here are the HomePod Mini’s specs:
- Price: $99
- Colors: Space Gray, White
- Connectivity: WiFi, AirPlay, Bluetooth
- Smart Assistant: Siri
- Weight: .76lb
- Dimensions: 3.9" W, 3.3" H
What we like
Sound quality is as good as we’d hoped
I've tested the best smart speakers on the market, and I was surprised at the clarity and quality of the sound the original HomePod produced. I also understood why Apple hadn’t yet created a new generation of HomePods—the first one could still beat out many of the newer speakers when it came to sound quality.
While the Mini version certainly can’t compete with the rumbling bass its older sibling can produce, it sounds bigger than its size. It’s probably more reasonable to compare this speaker's sound with that of the 4th-gen Echo than with the Echo Dot, the latter of which is about the same size as the HomePod Mini. This new HomePod almost seems like a speaker twice its size that’s been hit with a shrink ray.
While I was testing a pair of M in our den, my husband arrived home from work and looked around the room trying to find which speakers were producing the music. I gestured to these little black baseball-sized orbs, and he responded. "Wow." I agreed.
Setup is a breeze
When it came to setting up the HomePod Mini, all it took was moving my iPad close to each speaker. The Apple Home app found the speaker, had me center the speaker in the camera’s view, and it was added to my “Home.” When I assigned both speakers to my Basement room, the Home app asked if I wanted to make them a stereo pair.
What we didn’t like
Android users are out of luck
Nobody will be surprised by this, but the HomePod Mini falls in line with Apple’s proprietary approach. If you aren’t already using an iOS device, you won’t even be able to set the Mini up. Even if you could, Siri is extremely limited if she’s not linked to a primary iOS device like an iPhone.
If you are an Apple-user-for-life, this isn’t a problem, but if you think there’s any chance you’ll get an Android phone or non-iOS tablet for your next upgrade, understand the HomePod Mini experience may lose some of its sparkle.
The Apple TV integration isn’t perfect
While the Minis sound pretty good as a stereo system for Apple TV, they are not a dedicated soundbar. These are AirPlay speakers, so you can use them to play from any AirPlay device, which is great, but when you’re ready to watch something on Apple TV, you’ll have to switch its AirPlay back to the HomePod Mini setup. I also noticed that the volume up/down control can be a bit delayed when using the Apple TV remote. Not a deal-breaker, but definitely obnoxious when someone wants to tell you something and you can’t get the volume turned down immediately.
Siri just isn’t Google or Alexa
While Alexa and Google Assistant have been battling it out for years to be the best smart assistant, it doesn’t seem like Apple gives Siri a fighting chance. All of the HomePods’ smart home control happens through compatibility with HomeKit, so if you want to turn off your smart lights or lock your door using Siri, you’ll have to find HomeKit-compatible lights and locks.
Unfortunately, those are much harder to find than smart home devices that will work with Google and Alexa. Apple has only recently open-sourced developer tools that will make creating HomeKit-friendly products easier, but it’s a bit late to try to catch up to the competition at this point. If you want to build or expand a smart home, you’ll have far more options if you stick with Alexa or Google Nest speakers.
It’s more expensive than comparable smart speakers
If sound quality is your top priority in a smart speaker, and you don’t mind paying for it, the HomePod Mini blows competitors like the Echo Dot out of the water. There are much more affordable and versatile mini smart speakers on the market, however. If you’re looking for a more compatible smart speaker on a budget, the Echo Dot is a better bet.
Should you buy it?
If you’re an iOS user who doesn’t mind sticking with HomeKit smart devices, definitely.
Most people who are interested in smart home technology would be better served opting for an Echo or Nest Audio, either of which offer great sound and far more smart home options, for the exact same price as the Mini. Or, you could pay half of that and get an Echo Dot or Nest Mini.
However, if you use Siri often on your iPhone or iPad and don’t mind looking a little harder for compatible smart tech, you might really love the HomePod Mini. Apple’s products tend to work really nicely together, and they do what they do very well. If you’re OK with fully committing to Apple’s ecosystem, then don’t hesitate. The HomePod Mini is for you.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
Sarah Kovac is an award-winning author and accessibility editor for Reviewed. Previously, she worked with a multitude of outlets such as Wirecutter, TIME, PCMag, Prevention, The Atlantic, Reviews.com, CNN, GOOD, Upworthy, Mom.me, and SheKnows.
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