Five years ago, Apple unveiled what I unequivocally consider the best smart speaker of 2022. It was late to the party, slammed by the tech press, and stalled before its time. It was the original HomePod, and there is still nothing else like it.
Sure, there are five flavors of HomePod mini, but we wanted Apple to make a smaller HomePod to complement the large version, not replace it. HomePod Big Big voice Suitable for large rooms or as the best speakers in the primary listening area.
The HomePod mini is remarkably compact in comparison, but the sonic difference is massive. The HomePod mini is the affordable home-starting smart speaker for the HomePods, but it differs from the original HomePod in loudness and bass response.
We wanted a family of HomePods. Instead, we stuck with this lighter weight. That, my fellow citizens of the Apple ecosystem, is why the used market for original HomePods is so compelling nearly two years after the OG HomePod was discontinued.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot the OG HomePod can learn from its younger brother. The HomePod excels in sound and can even be used as stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos for your home theater. The HomePod mini has a few things running on it that were there simply because it was the first revision of the HomePod line.
The large HomePod has a removable power cord that you probably shouldn’t ever remove. Kind of like the Apple Studio Display. The HomePod mini doesn’t have a completely removable cable, but it does end with a USB-C connector instead of power prongs!
HomePod mini connects to a removable USB-C power adapter, and the USB-C connector serves as a data port. This allows you to connect your HomePod mini to a Mac or PC to restore its software if an update occurs. The large HomePod simply shows you the red ring of death as if it were an original Xbox, and all support requires it to be sent to Apple.
Apple is also using a faster processor inside the HomePod mini, moving from the older A8 chip to the newer S5 chip. This helps with how quickly Siri can respond to voice commands, and it also likely contributes to the HomePod mini’s lower cost. The smart speaker doesn’t need graphic oomph anyway.
And there’s Thread Radio support built into the HomePod mini. The latest Apple TV 4K boxes also include Thread. Thread was not ready for the original HomePod.
These are all things that were included in Apple’s review of what the HomePod could be, but make no mistake, the original HomePod reigns supreme as the best smart home speaker. The thing just has an audio performance that won’t fail to impress. It’s loud, it’s full, it’s deep, there are no compromises.
My special interest in the large HomePod right Now All the while I started visiting family out of town for Thanksgiving. Years ago, I gifted them one HomePod that they still use regularly to this day. Meanwhile, I gave up on the large HomePod once Apple said the HomePod mini was the future of the bunch. Nearly two years later, I couldn’t believe how great the original HomePod sounded.
Apple no longer sells the original HomePod, but you can find used or refurbished OG HomePods on eBay and the Facebook Marketplace for between $200 and $300. Apple originally sold the HomePod for $350 before dropping the price to $300, with $250 being the common selling price near the end of its retail life. After taxes and shipping, I ended up scoring a HomePod stereo pair for $450 earlier this month.
I knew I’d love the great HomePod again, but I didn’t expect all the ways the original was any better. You can whisper to summon Siri from across the room, ambient sounds to sleep feel like you’re right there, and the overall loudness can rival serious noise levels.
There are signs of hope in a new, unnamed HomePod in connection with a larger version that is no longer on sale. Several months ago, reliable supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted that Apple would launch an additional HomePod in 2022 Q4 or 2023 Q1. Based on the current schedule, that could mean we could see an even better HomePod with recent revisions by the spring. It’s a product I really hope will exist, especially since the version announced in 2017 and released in 2018 won’t last forever.
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