The Apple HomePod mini is Apple’s newest small Siri speaker and we tested it. In this HomePod mini review you can read our experiences, we discuss the sound quality and whether the speaker is worth it.
Introducing HomePod mini review
The HomePod is a popular product among Apple users, but the Siri speaker has not yet reached a wide target group. The original HomePod appeared almost three years ago and is still available in a limited number of countries. This also applies to the newly released HomePod mini , the smaller and, above all, much cheaper version of Apple’s smart speaker. In this review of the new HomePod mini you can read how we experienced this smaller version. What is the sound quality, what can you do with it and how does the speaker compare to the competitors?
Design HomePod mini: round and small
- New round design
- Exterior of textile
- Dimensions of 84.3 by 97.9 millimeters, weight of 345 grams
- Choice of white or black
- Flat top with small display
The HomePod mini lives up to its name. In the photos, the speaker already seems very small, but you only really notice how compact the speaker is when you take it out of the box. The HomePod mini comes packaged in a small square box, with nothing more than just the HomePod mini and the included usb-c adapter. The HomePod mini is about half the size of the regular HomePod in size and is comparable to a hefty orange. So you can easily hold the HomePod mini in your hand, although it is not a portable speaker.
We are a fan of the round design. It would have been a lot more boring if Apple had simply turned the HomePod mini into a smaller HomePod. The round design gives the HomePod mini its own character and is therefore a lot more recognizable in, for example, the interface of the Home app, where you set up the HomePod mini. The round mini therefore also looks a lot more playful than the standard HomePod. The textile exterior is of high quality, as we are used to from the regular HomePod. Despite the much lower price, Apple has fortunately not cut back on this.
The small size has a big advantage: you can place it much easier anywhere in the house. While you have to make quite a bit of space with the large HomePod, you don’t have to with the HomePod mini. Even on a small desk, the HomePod mini does not look out of place and the HomePod mini also fits easily on a side table in the living room or on the bedside table in the bedroom.
On the top we find a small touch-sensitive display. This allows you to see if Siri is listening to you and if music is playing. A difference with the regular HomePod is that the entire top of the HomePod mini is a screen and lights up, while with the regular HomePod this is a smaller part. Also a striking detail is that the plus and minus buttons for the volume on the HomePod mini are permanently visible, even when nothing is playing. With the regular HomePod, you only see this if music actually sounds from the speaker.
During music playback, a soft white glow is always visible on the display. It is quite a mystery to us why Apple did this. On the regular HomePod, that is not the case and it is not necessary at all. You can hear from the sound whether something is playing or not. In the bedroom it can be annoying if you use the HomePod mini at the lowest volume to fall asleep peacefully.
Hardware Apple HomePod mini
- Equipped with a full-range driver and dual passive radiators
- Four microphones with noise canceling
- Runs on Apple S5 chip
- Braided USB-C cable of more than one and a half meters
The regular HomePod is characterized by its extensive hardware specifications. With seven tweeters and a woofer , the regular HomePod gives impressive sound. The smaller HomePod mini doesn’t fit all that hardware, which is why there is one speaker with a full-range driver that sends the sound in the right direction. The two passive radiators provide the lower bass tones.
The brain of the HomePod mini is the S5 chip, which we know from the Apple Watch Series 5 . Apple has therefore switched from the A chip in the HomePod (it still had an A8 chip) to the S chip in the HomePod mini. The reason for this is somewhat unclear. In any case, you won’t notice it in use, because the HomePod mini responds just as quickly with processing Siri requests and starting music as the regular HomePod.
The HomePod mini also has four microphones that are responsible for understanding your commands. In the regular HomePod, there were seven more, six of which were used for Siri commands. In our test, the HomePod mini can always hear you well, even if the sound is loud or if it is noisy in the room where the speaker is located. He can even hear you from another room without any problems, provided the doors are open. Despite the fact that there are fewer microphones in it than in the regular HomePod, we did not notice any difference in use.
The HomePod mini has the same kind of braided cable as the regular HomePod. This is a pretty sturdy cable that won’t break just like that. Fortunately, because you cannot replace the cable. The power cable has a length of more than one and a half meters, which is long enough in our opinion. The advantage of the HomePod mini’s cable is that the end is a regular USB-C plug. You plug it into the included 20W adapter. You can also use your own adapter of at least 20W. Connecting to a MacBook is unfortunately not possible and if you want to use a power bank, you will need one with a decent capacity.
HomePod mini features: music and more
- Listen to music from Apple Music and more
- Works with AirPlay 2
- Give voice commands to Siri
- Suitable as a home hub for HomeKit
- Not suitable as a regular Bluetooth speaker
- Less suitable as a TV or desktop speaker
The HomePod mini is, just like the regular HomePod, suitable for various functions. Its main application is listening to music. By default, the HomePod mini has Apple Music built-in. When setting up you link the HomePod mini to your account, so that you can play music directly from your own Apple Music account and your library. At the moment, the HomePod mini only works with Apple Music by default and in the US with Pandora. Apple has added support for external music services, so in theory Spotify can work closely with the HomePod mini. Unfortunately, this has not yet been the case.
If you want to listen to another streaming service or play your own music on it, you can always use AirPlay 2. You stream the music from your iPhone or iPad to the HomePod mini. You can also ask Siri on your iPhone to play music via Spotify in the room where the HomePod is located. But you always need your iPhone or iPad, which is an extra stumbling block.
A handy extra is the HomePod ‘s Handoff function . This means that you only have to hold your iPhone with music above the HomePod, after which the music is transferred. That also works with Spotify and other services. Incidentally, Apple promises that a future software update will make this function even better thanks to the U1 chip in the HomePod mini, but we have not been able to test that at this time.
The HomePod mini really comes into its own when you only use Apple services. That also applies to your smart home .
The HomePod mini is part of HomeKit. You can set it up via the Home app and thanks to AirPlay 2 you can control automations (for example, play music when you get home). The HomePod mini also acts as a home hub for HomeKit , allowing you to control your devices remotely. We only use HomeKit products at home, but if you use a combination of multiple smart home platforms (Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, etcetera), that can be a bit inconvenient. If you choose HomeKit completely, the HomePod mini will fit perfectly in your home.
You can easily use the HomePod mini to operate your HomeKit devices. Although Siri on the HomePod still cannot speak Dutch, you can say HomeKit commands partly in Dutch. The HomePod looks at the name you have given to scenes, rooms and accessories. So you can just say “Turn on the lights in the living room”. That works quite well, although you sometimes have to articulate well.
Another new feature worth highlighting is the HomePod ‘s Intercom feature . You use this function to address everyone in the house, for example to say that dinner is ready or that it is time to leave. Say to the HomePod mini “Hey Siri, intercom”, followed by your Dutch audio message. This audio message will then be played one-on-one on other HomePods in the house or on the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch of the people in the house. Even when someone is on the road, he or she can hear the audio message via CarPlay . We think this is a handy and ingenious feature, although it is only really useful if you live in a larger house.
Less versatile than competitors
Compared to other speakers, the HomePod mini is a bit less versatile. Just like with the regular HomePod, you can’t just use it as a Bluetooth speaker. It only works with AirPlay 2 and therefore you cannot easily connect the speaker to a computer or television. You can send the audio to the HomePod mini from a Mac , but that all works with AirPlay 2. In our experience, this is not so smooth and you also have to adjust this often.
The same also applies to your television. If you were planning to use the HomePod mini (or the regular HomePod) as some kind of Sonos alternative, you will be disappointed. You cannot just connect a HomePod to your television, even if it is a television with AirPlay 2 or HomeKit. You can, however, send the sound via an Apple TV to a HomePod or HomePod mini . If you only watch television via the Apple TV , then that is an option. Unfortunately, the HomePod mini does not support the home cinema option that the regular HomePod offers since the 14.2 update.
Sound quality HomePod mini: stands its ground
- Powerful speaker with great sound
- Good bass and loud volume
- 360-degree sound
- Can also be set up as a stereo pair
Apple’s standard HomePod was mainly praised for its high sound quality. Apple promises that the HomePod mini also sounds good and after our test we can confirm that. Yet you do notice a difference, although that is not surprising when you consider that the HomePod is in a completely different class in terms of technology and price. The HomePod mini sounds less full than the regular HomePod , but we are nevertheless impressed with the sound quality. The speaker sounds a lot better than, for example, the Google Home mini and the Echo Dot from Amazon. At times we find the speaker coming close to the Sonos One .
We find all music styles come into their own with the HomePod mini. Whether you like rock or classical music. The bass is never too much present and does not rattle through in the sound. There are sometimes speakers where the bass is so emphatically present that the rest of the sound is, as it were, blocked, but we have not noticed that with the HomePod mini.
As with the regular HomePod, the equalizer is automatically adjusted . So you do not have the options to adjust the equalizer to your own taste. For some users this may be a loss, but we do not find this disturbing.
The HomePod mini also has 360-degree audio, so it doesn’t matter how you place the speaker. The sound sounds equally good from every side and we think that is quite good for a speaker of such a small size. The HomePod mini does not support the spatial awareness function of the regular HomePod. Where that speaker adjusts the sound to where it is in the room (by listening to the reflections of the sound), the HomePod mini does not.
We are also satisfied with the volume of the speaker. We never actually set the speaker to its loudest, because at half the volume it sounds more than loud enough. But if for whatever reason you want to set the volume to 100%, the music will never be distorted and it will sound just as good as at a lower volume. Even in an average living room, the HomePod mini manages to fill the space well. If you still want a bit fuller sound for a larger room, the regular HomePod or another larger speaker is recommended.
We therefore find the HomePod mini ideal for the bedroom or office. These are often spaces where you do not have to listen to music at the highest volume and the small size makes it easy to place it anywhere.
If you need a little more volume because of the larger space, you can also set the HomePod mini as a stereo pair . The left and right audio channel then sounds from the respective speaker, so that the overall experience with listening to music is slightly better. We certainly don’t think this is a must, but if you have the space, this is an option to keep in mind.
Who is the HomePod mini for?
We think the HomePod mini is best suited if you already have a lot of Apple products at home. If you are completely in the Apple ecosystem, everyone in the house has an iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch and you make full use of Apple Music and HomeKit , the HomePod mini will fit seamlessly into your setup. In fact, in that case we think the HomePod mini is a no-brainer. It is therefore an extra pity that the HomePod mini is not officially available in the Netherlands.
Would you really like to use everything in Dutch and do you want more options from a smart speaker? Then there are also other (cheaper) alternatives. The Google Nest speakers are best known . You can get a Google Nest mini for less than three bucks , while the Google Nest Audio is sold for the same price as the HomePod mini ( € 99 ).
Apple HomePod mini – Conclusion
The HomePod mini is one of Apple’s surprises this fall. At the same time, it is one of the cheapest new Apple products in years, because the speaker costs only € 99. Although it is more expensive than other similar mini smart speakers, we think the audio quality is a lot better. The HomePod mini sounds very good, especially for its small size. The speaker is ideal for use in the bedroom or office, partly due to its compact size. We find the design beautiful and surprising and the build quality is (as we are used to from Apple) more than fine.
Due to its low price and good sound quality, we find the HomePod mini a must for every Apple household. If you also have family members with an Android device or if you use smart devices at home via the Google Assistant, then the HomePod mini is a lot less recommended. The HomePod mini is also not worth buying as a speaker for your television or computer. All in all, we are positive about Apple’s latest speaker.
Tim Cook said proudly in the announcement that they wanted to make the speaker as accessible as possible by keeping the price low so that as many people as possible can bring it into their home. We especially hope that Apple will put its money where its mouth is and bring the speaker to more countries in the short term.
Apple HomePod mini positives
- Beautiful and playful design
- Compact size makes it extra versatile
- Good sound
- Fits well in the Apple ecosystem
- Affordable price
Apple HomePod mini negatives
- Still not for sale in the Netherlands
- No Dutch Siri
- Limited smart functions, partly due to lack of Dutch
- Only works really well if your everything is from Apple