Last updated: 1 week ago
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
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 launched in November 2020 and is available to the public.
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
The 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 ships 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 allows 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 has a "magical" Handoff experience. A HomePod mini understands 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.
Siri and Music Playback on HomePod mini
As to be expected of such a device, users are able to ask Siri questions through the HomePod. When engaged, the Siri waveform appears on the top of the speaker, indicating the digital assistant is awaiting further instruction.
Just as the version usable in iOS, Siri can respond to a range of queries, including queries about upcoming concerts, sporting event queries, and restaurant recommendations, with responses provided audibly. Typical Siri commands are also available to use, including requests to send messages to contacts, setting alarms and timers, and to read out the latest news headlines.
One way Apple is pitching the HomePod is its music playback credentials, centralizing around Siri. Subscribers of Apple Music can ask Siri to play songs from albums and playlists, tell it what the next song to play should be, ask to generate a playlist from a genre they like, and other musical instructions.
The music playback is also not limited to just Apple Music, as reports have confirmed Siri requests for songs included under iTunes Match can also be played through the HomePod.
The HomePod mini power cable terminates into a USB-C plug, so now you can take your HomePod with you. Attach it to a battery pack that can supply at least 20W and you can take the HomePod experience with you, but you'll still need a stable internet connection.
The HomePod plays a wide variety of audio formats, a list that is similar to those of other Apple products providing audio playback. The support list includes HE-AAC (V1), AAC from 16Kbps to 320Kbps, protected AAC from the iTunes Store, 16Kbps to 320Kbps MP3 files, MP3 VBR, Apple Lossless, AIFF, WAV, and FLAC.
The musical functionality also extends to musical trivia about the currently-played track, such as “When was this recorded?” among other queries. Aside from individual tracks, users can ask Siri to play stations including NPR and Beats 1, and also podcast episodes the user has subscribed to in the Podcasts app.
HomePod firmware released alongside a beta for iOS 11.2 revealed the HomePod will handle all music-related questions itself, with no external assistance. For other types of queries, such as those involving contacts, messaging, Lists, and Notes, such queries will be handed off to a connected iPhone or iPad for processing, rather than performing the query itself.
Stay on top of all Apple news right from your HomePod or HomePod mini. Say, "Hey, Siri, play AppleInsider Daily," and you'll get a fast update direct from the AppleInsider team.
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 is available now from Apple and Authorized Resellers. It ships in white and space gray.
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.
Is the HomePod mini portable?
Yes, to an extent. The HomePod mini cable terminates into a USB-C plug, which means it can be powered by most portable battery packs greater than 20W. You'll still need an internet signal, so be prepared to reset and tether the device to your iPhone if you leave your home.
How much does HomePod mini cost?
The HomePod mini price is $99.