Apple introduces the all-new HomePod 2. But is it really any better?

Apple HomePod 2 in white and black

by David Redmond

Apple do weird things sometimes. The original HomePod launched and was followed by the HomePod mini. The original HomePod was then discontinued, leaving just the mini in the line-up. This would have been weird enough, but then the big HomePod made a return. Weird, but fair enough.

So how is the HomePod 2nd Gen different?
The new HomePod 2nd Gen has got new features, and some interesting internal changes. Let’s take a look at the new HomePod, to see if it can justify its price of €350. Wow, this is one expensive smart speaker.

What’s New?
A lot of the new features to the HomePod 2nd Gen are features that previously existed on the HomePod mini. Here are some of the new features of note.

  1. New sensors. The HomePod mini got these sensors activated in the 16.3 update, but the new HomePod comes with a temperature and humidity sensor built in. These sensors can be used to trigger automations such as turn on the heating if the temperature drops below 15 degrees, or you can simply ask Siri the temperature or humidity in a room.
  2. The S7 chip. The original HomePod had an A8 chip from the iPhone 6, but this HomePod has been upgraded to the S7 chip from the Apple Watch Series 7. This new chip will help with audio processing, helping the device adapt its speakers to the surrounding environment. The line-up now uses two chips, with the s5 in the Mini and S7 in the big version.
  3. Thread. We spoke about Thread previously in this newsletter, but it basically means that this new HomePod can act as a Matter border router. This will be very important for the smart home of the future as it will allow smart home devices to connect to the HomePod without needing to use the likes of Wi-Fi. The mini had thread already, so this is a nice update.

All of these are great changes, but let’s be honest, it’s basically the same as the Mini in terms of features. Sure it has a slightly better chip, but will that justify nearly €250 extra? For most people, no.

This leaves the sound. Is the sound after improving much since the first edition? Is the big HomePod the best sounding smart speaker you can buy? Let’s talk about that.

All about the sound
The original HomePod had 7 tweeters and one woofer. This new version cuts the number of tweeters down to 5. So, does the newer processor make the sound better? or did Apple actually release a worse sounding product for a second generation?

Well, I’ve got to be honest and say that I haven’t heard the new HomePod myself yet, but I have listened to many reviews, audio simulations and articles on the subject. The general consensus is that the new HomePod is the same or worse than its predecessor. If this is true, this is very disappointing, and very unusual for Apple.

The new HomePod is now the best sounding Siri speaker on the market, but only because it’s Predecessor Was discontinued. The new features are great, but it’s a shame they didn’t leave in those 7 tweeters. The number of microphones has also been reduced but this is compensated by a new and more powerful chip.

There’s a lot to like about the new HomePod, but it’s not perfect. While it does contain some nice features, they could have done more especially when you consider the cost.

I’d hope that the HomePod gets new features in software over the next while and it is great that the option of the bigger speaker is back, but my HomePod mini won’t be getting a new big brother or sister in the house anytime soon.