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The HomePod mini is a smaller companion to the original HomePod speaker. Measuring around half the size of the HomePod, the smaller model offers a spherical design and computational audio for $99.
● Smaller than HomePod
● Spherical design
● Computational audio
● Nov. 16 release date
The HomePod mini is a smaller, cheaper, and spherical version of the HomePod smart speaker. It is priced to compete with the Amazon Echo and other, more inexpensive smart speakers. It launches on November 16, 2020.
While rumors had pointed to a HomePod mini since soon after the full-sized model's release, Apple finally announced it at its "Hi, Speed" virtual event on October 13, alongside the iPhone 12 series.
HomePod mini Pricing
While the HomePod costs $299, Apple priced the HomePod mini at $99, a more aggressive price to better compete with the Amazon Echo and Google Nest.
HomePod mini Features
asdfThe HomePod mini provides a much cheaper entry into the Apple smart speaker ecosystem. At $99, it serves as a more enticing purchase for shoppers looking to add several speakers around the home, including stereo pairs.
The speaker has a round design with a flat top, separating it from the standard HomePod's cylindrical design. The 3.3-inch tall speaker uses a mesh fabric designed for acoustics as well as style.
Like the standard HomePod, the smaller variant will ship in white and space gray.
Although it's smaller, the HomePod mini still places a similar emphasis on high-quality playback with new "computational audio" features combined with standard audio hardware. It doesn't have the same bill of materials as HomePod, but it still features a full-range dynamic driver and two passive radiators for advanced bass response. It also packs an acoustic waveguide to provide clear, 360-degree audio playback.
The onboard Apple S5 chip provides the computational audio features, including complex tuning models that allow the speaker to intelligently optimize both loudness and dynamic range.
Intercom and Handoff
One of the most significant new additions to the HomePod mini is a new feature that will allow it to act as an Ultra-Wideband base station to precisely locate U1-equipped devices, like the iPhone and Apple Watch Series 6.
Apple says that HomePod mini will be receiving a "magical" Handoff experience. A HomePod mini will understand when an iPhone is nearby and provide audio, visual, and haptic feedback, so it feels like two Apple devices are physically connected.
The new speaker also adds a new Intercom feature that lets family members send messages between HomePods. Family members can choose whether to talk to people in a different room, a specific zone, or throughout the home. Intercom also works with other Apple devices, so family members will receive a notification and can reply even if they aren't near a HomePod.
Apple Music is at the center of HomePod musical experience, but Apple is gradually expanding its options. In 2019, Apple added support for radio stations from iHeartRadio, Radio.com, and TuneIn.
With the HomePod mini announcement, Apple added that support for Pandora and Amazon Music is coming later in 2020. Apple didn't mention support for Spotify, a company that has been critical of Apple's walled-garden business models.
HomePod mini vs. HomePod
Contrary to some previous rumors, the HomePod mini has a different design from the standard HomePod. Apart from looks, the most apparent differences are price and size.
While the HomePod has a rounded cylindrical design, the smaller model has a spherical appearance with a flat top. At 3.3 inches, the tiny speaker comes in at barely under half the height of the 6.8-inch HomePod.
The HomePod is a premium smart speaker that prioritizes high-fidelity sound. While most Amazon Echo products use lower-end speaker technology, Apple made a speaker that's more of a direct competitor to Sonos than Amazon.
The HomePod uses Siri to handle voice control. It has six microphones positioned around the device to better pick up sound from around the room. Voice commands are encrypted and sent to Apple's servers without being tied to your Apple ID.
The HomePod includes eight speakers inside a cylindrical and rounded body covered in mesh fabric. It uses a six-microphone array and an internal bass-EQ microphone to adapt the bass to the room. That mic array has an advanced echo cancellation system that also allows Siri to understand anyone speaking to it in the room, regardless of their position to the HomePod, even when loud music plays in the background.
It has a round display at the top, showing a Siri graphic or volume controls, with a 272 x 340 resolution.
For audio playback, the speakers have an upward-facing woofer that uses real-time software modeling to enhance bass management, providing deep and clean bass tones with low distortion. It has an internal low-frequency calibration microphone to assist the bass management system. Accompanying the woofer is a custom array of seven tweeters, each equipped with an amplifier. Apple's speaker array also has beamforming capabilities for high-fidelity directional audio.
The HomePod's ability to sense its placement in a room enhances the beamforming. Using the microphone array, it can detect the room's size, location compared to nearby surfaces, and other potential audio obstacles, using the data to optimize its playback to suit its surroundings.
Users have the option of pairing two HomePods together to create a stereo pair.
HomePod mini will become available for preorder on Nov. 6. It ships in white and space gray. The smart speaker will start shipping out to customers the week of Nov. 16.
Common HomePod mini Questions
How do I set up a HomePod mini for the first time?
- Plug the HomePod in and wait for a tone to play.
- Your iPhone or iPad will display a pop up to help with setup.
- When prompted to, align the device’s camera with the top of the HomePod.
- Follow the on screen instructions.
Can I create a stereo pair with two HomePod mini speakers?
Yes, as long as they're listed in the same room in the Home app.
- In the Home app for iOS, touch and hold on a HomePod mini, and then tap the Settings button.
- Touch "Use as Stereo Pair" and then follow the instructions.
Can I create a stereo pair between a HomePod and HomePod mini?
No, presumably because the audio quality would be out of balance between the left and right channels.
How much does HomePod mini cost?
The HomePod mini price is $99.