Apple HomePod Mini Evaluation: The Good Speaker Apple Wants


“The HomePod mini is strictly what Apple must be a related participant within the sensible speaker world”

  • Computational audio optimizes the expertise
  • Clear sounding highs and mids
  • Compact measurement makes it discrete
  • It is probably the most reasonably priced HomeKit house hub
  • Siri lacks the superior intelligence of her friends
  • Quick energy wire

Apple not often has any misses with its merchandise, particularly in the course of the dominant interval that started with the discharge of the primary technology iPhone. Time after time, the Cupertino, California-based firm has knocked it out of the ballpark, setting the bar in every product class it enters. Merchandise such because the iPod, iPhone, iPad, and AirPods all have proven phenomenal attraction amongst shoppers, however that doesn’t imply that Apple is infallible.

The HomePod is an instance of a type of missed alternatives, and its failure impeded Apple’s formidable efforts within the sensible house realm. Pricing was partly the difficulty — a premium value of $349 out of the gates made it a troublesome promote for the lots. 

Now, although, there seems to be redemption with the HomePod mini. Despite the fact that Apple has gone smaller with this iteration, don’t let its measurement idiot you, as a result of this resolution has grander implications that make it a formidable participant within the sensible house. And with latest information about its discontinuation, Apple’s future within the sensible speaker house is positioned on its pint sized providing.

There’s no denying that Apple has one thing particular with the HomePod mini, however there are a number of extra spectacular sensible audio system to think about should you’re available in the market of shopping for one. As for Apple, the corporate has been making a bug push with HomeKit and a latest rumor a few TV field that packages the capabilities of an iPad, HomePod, and Apple TV, would make a critical assertion within the sensible house.

Smaller is best

Gone is the cylindrical, hulking design of the unique HomePod, changed by a extra refined look due to its spherical form. It’s adorned with the identical cloth mesh materials as its predecessor — one thing I wasn’t too thrilled about as a result of my cats considered it as a scratching submit. However due to its smaller measurement, it higher suits into tighter, smaller areas and away from the cats’ attain. Finally, I made a decision to put it on my leisure middle in the lounge, the place it doesn’t overwhelm the remainder of the stuff there.

John Velasco / Digital Traits

The HomePod mini includes a backlit touch-sensitive lid. Its animation of Siri listening and responding provides a slick look to it, however it nonetheless can’t pry my eyes from the Echo’s LED gentle ring. Across the again is its energy wire that ends with a USB-C connection. Surprisingly, it doesn’t seem that the wire itself is detachable. For the reason that unique HomePod’s wire may very well be eliminated with a little bit of tugging, I believed the identical would apply right here — however that doesn’t appear to be the case. On high of that, the size of the wire is pretty quick, which implies that it must be positioned close to an outlet.

Don’t simply purchase one, purchase two as a result of this 12 months’s HomePod mini gained’t drain your pockets.

Apple’s resolution to go small is fascinating. You’ll suppose its measurement makes it a rival to the Nest Mini and Echo Dot, however it’s truly meant to compete within the midrange class.

Computational audio at its most interesting

Should you’re all about uncooked audio energy, then the unique HomePod is the logical alternative for you. You need to cease now if that’s your sole precedence. That’s as a result of the HomePod mini’s efficiency gained’t come near the unique’s uncooked energy. The place the HomePod mini actually comes alive is in how convincing computational audio is ready to analyze and fine-tune no matter it’s taking part in.

Apple HomePod mini touch controls
John Velasco / Digital Traits

From a specs standpoint, the HomePod mini’s full-range driver and twin passive radiators gained’t make audiophiles drool all that a lot. It’s truly the mixture of Apple’s S5 chip and computational audio that delivers a tantalizing and convincing audio expertise. The HomePod mini doesn’t disappoint for its measurement, producing ample mids and highs that don’t get drowned out by the lows. In truth, the deal with the mids and highs turns into much more obvious when the quantity is cranked up — it by no means loses contact with them, nor does the bass ever sound strained.

If there’s one critique I’ve in regards to the audio high quality is that the HomePod mini’s accountable for the audio tuning. There’s no technique to customise or alter for my explicit desire. It’s not a deal-breaker, however I nonetheless would recognize some degree of management over issues such because the treble and bass.

John Velasco / Digital Traits

Again to my level about computational audio. It’s most evident once I paired the HomePod mini to my Apple TV 4K for watching movies. In contrast to my soundbar, which appears to favor the sound results and scores over dialogue, the computational audio appropriately tones down the rating and sound results every time there’s dialogue — so I can truly comprehend what individuals are saying. This sort of clever adjustment can be helpful when commercials play, provided that my soundbar tends to jack up the quantity after they play. With the HomePod mini, nonetheless, the quantity stays constant. If that is what computational audio is all about, then I’m all-in.

Taking part in catch-up with the competitors

Initially, the HomePod mini is probably the most reasonably priced house hub for Apple HomeKit units within the house. You want it to ensure that your HomeKit units to speak together with your requests once you’re away, outdoors of your own home’s community. Previous to this, the one different options had been the pricier Apple TV HD ($149), Apple TV 4K ($179), and HomePod ($299). You may also use an iPad, however I sometimes don’t suggest this since you need your own home hub to stay stationary on the house — so the iPad is the least-qualified candidate for my part.

Siri nonetheless has plenty of catching as much as do, which is reflective in how she lacks the accomplishments of her friends. Google Assistant regularly astounds me for its intelligence, whereas Amazon Alexa’s will be swapped out for a celeb voice like Samuel L. Jackson. Siri is neither as sensible or as humorous as the opposite two digital assistants, however I actually hope that she catches up. For instance, it irked me that Siri didn’t wish to announce my appointments for the day every time I ask. After some troubleshooting and enabling the private requests choice within the House app, it labored like a appeal. Simply bear in mind to have that choice enabled, or else Siri gained’t announce it on the HomePod mini.

Apple HomePod mini smart speaker size comparison
John Velasco / Digital Traits

Regardless of this, there are different options I discovered helpful. Take the intercom characteristic that enables me to play an audio message on all my linked HomePod audio system in my condo. It’s nice once you don’t wish to shout from the kitchen to another person in one other room that dinner is prepared. There are additionally the proximity controls, which permit me handy off one thing I’m listening to on my iPhone to my HomePod mini — all by inserting my iPhone above the touch-sensitive floor of the HomePod mini. Seamless options that permit totally different devices to speak with each other like that is what Apple’s recognized for, and proximity controls are proof of that.

There’s additionally the matter relating to app assist. At the moment, music listeners solely have a handful of choices to select from on the subject of streaming from an iPhone to a HomePod mini. Apple Music and Pandora conveniently work like a appeal, however many different third-party apps like YouTube Music are absent.

The HomePod mini is the speaker that Apple ought to have launched first.

Prior to now 12 months, we’ve seen an increasing number of HomeKit-compatible sensible house units, starting from sensible locks to cameras. The shortage of suitable units undeniably mitigated shopper attraction for making Siri the digital assistant of alternative within the house, however issues have gotten higher. Whereas Apple nonetheless trails Google and Amazon on the subject of whole supported units, there’s a better diploma of safety and privateness to utilizing HomeKit units.

Apple HomePod mini in hand
John Velasco / Digital Traits

That’s the untold story you gained’t hear an excessive amount of about within the sensible house wars. Apple doesn’t require its customers to put in a brand new app, or join an account to be able to use these sensible house units. All that’s wanted is so that you can set them up by means of the House app and that’s it. 

Our take

The HomePod mini is the speaker that Apple ought to have launched first. The corporate could be in a much better state of affairs within the sensible house market if that had been the case. No matter that, its $99 value makes it an interesting providing that’s higher positioned to carry Siri to the house. Positive, it’s not as sensible or as highly effective as a few of the different sensible audio system on the market, however it doesn’t should be as a result of its computational audio, refined design, and HomeKit house hub performance make it a logical alternative for a lot of extra Apple customers this time round.

How lengthy will it final?

Very similar to all of Apple’s units, the HomePod mini is solidly constructed. The mesh cloth ought to maintain up if it’s left undisturbed, however the fabric-like materials is vulnerable to stains if one thing had been to frivolously spill on it.

Apple provides a one-year restricted guarantee that covers defects, however you can too buy AppleCare+ for the HomePod mini, which is able to successfully prolong the protection for 2 years and canopy two cases of unintentional injury.

Is there a greater different?

You guess. For a similar value, the Google Nest Audio has a commanding presence within the audio division. Audiophiles will recognize its resounding and extra highly effective audio efficiency, whereas the Amazon Echo (4th Gen) carves out a center floor between design, efficiency, and compatibility with different sensible house units.

Must you purchase it?

Don’t simply purchase one, purchase two as a result of this 12 months’s HomePod mini gained’t drain your pockets. Plus, you’ll be amazed by what computational audio is able to delivering should you’re a house theater buff.

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