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There’s no shortage of killer smart speakers that you can talk to the Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa through, but if you’re after Apple’s Siri, your only option is to go straight to the source. Apple’s second-generation HomePod is the company’s current flagship smart speaker, offering booming sound and deep ecosystem integration at a premium $300. It’s plenty capable, but unless you’re living the full Apple lifestyle, the HomePod probably isn’t for you.

Source: Apple
Apple HomePod (2nd generation)
7.5 / 10

Apple's second-generation HomePod is an excellent smart speaker for anyone already invested in Apple's ecosystem — including Apple Music.

6.6 x 5.6 x 5.6"
5.5 lbs
HomeKit, Matter
Woofer Size
802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, AirPlay 2, Thread
List Price
Midnight, White
  • Great audio
  • Attractive, modern design
  • Easy setup
  • Pricey
  • Limited music service compatibility
  • Requires other Apple devices

Price and availability

The second-generation Apple HomePod retails for $300. You can get it directly from Apple, or from stores like Best Buy, Walmart, and Target. Notably, the HomePod is not available on Amazon.

Design and hardware


The HomePod isn't much larger than Google's Nest Audio.

Apple's second-gen HomePod is a 6.6-inch-tall, fabric-wrapped cylinder with a small, circular touchscreen on the top. At a glance, it looks like the first generation did and more than a little like the old "trashcan" Mac Pro.

Unlike the HomePod Mini, which you can get in a handful of bright colors, the full-size HomePod is only available in black or white. I would've liked to see the Mini's more vibrant options here, too, but either color comes with a matching cable, and the plain, rounded design makes it easy to slip into just about any decor.


The HomePod's top-mounted touchscreen is used during setup, but that's really the only time it conveys any visual information (and only to your iPhone or iPad). While the speaker is idle, the display is blank. It glows when playing media and shows a pleasing, colorful animation when Siri is listening or speaking, but that's about it. It seems like a missed opportunity to me — surely that space could display things like media playback info, or a visual representation of the forecast when you ask Siri about the weather, but it doesn't. Plus and minus symbols are printed on the display's glass to signify touch targets for volume control.

Inside, the HomePod's audio is powered by a four-inch woofer and five tweeters, delivering full, satisfying sound (more on that later). It's also got four microphones to hear you shouting at Siri; mine is yet to fail to hear me over media playback, even at higher volumes.

Ecosystem and experience

An iPad Mini rests against an Apple Homepad

As is typically the case with Apple gear, the HomePod is designed to work with other Apple products. You need an iPhone or iPad just to set the speaker up. That setup is dead simple, though: the HomePod has you point your Apple device's camera at its top screen, which communicates all the information that the device needs to connect, and with a few taps, the HomePod is ready to go.

The HomePod's go-to music source is, of course, Apple Music. While it's possible to change the HomePod's default music service from Apple Music to a handful of others, including Pandora, Deezer, and iHeartRadio, many popular options, including Spotify, Amazon Music, and YouTube Music are only available through AirPlay. You can't set them as the default, and you can't ask the Siri to play music through them. Try, and the HomePod will tell you that "the app hasn't added support for that with Siri."

It's not unusual for smart speakers to default to their manufacturers' services; speakers from Google and Amazon do the same. But that the world's most popular music streaming service, Spotify, is only available through AirPlay seems more than a little silly, and it could reasonably turn off a lot of potential buyers. It's a calculated move on Apple's part to get people more thoroughly invested in its ecosystem, and it's presumably working out for the company's bottom line — but for consumers, it's just an annoying limitation.

That Spotify is only available through AirPlay seems more than a little silly.

Through Siri, the HomePod can control smart home devices that integrate with Apple HomeKit. The selection isn't quite as broad as what Alexa and Google Home offer; Apple notes that more than 50 brands make HomeKit-compatible products, while Amazon and Google's ecosystems can connect to devices from thousands of manufacturers.

But HomeKit's got support where it counts: big-name brands like Philips Hue, Arlo, Yale, TP-Link, and more are all partners. Siri seems faster to control my connected devices than Google Assistant is, switching my Hue lights on and off a beat quicker than Google Assistant does through my Nest speakers.


The HomePod's got both temperature and humidity sensors inside, which can be integrated into smart home routines to automate tasks based on the conditions in whichever room the speaker is in (turning a smart plug on when the temperature reaches a certain threshold, for example). You can also just ask the HomePod what the ambient temperature and humidity are, if you need to know, which occasionally comes in handy.

In a very Apple bit of ecosystem synergy, you can connect an Apple TV 4K to a compatible TV via eARC to route all TV audio through the HomePod — or a pair of HomePods, if you've got two. For someone who already has an Apple TV 4K and is looking to upgrade their TV's audio, this could be an appealing — if expensive — option.



Sound out of the second-gen HomePod is great. Bass and sub-bass are satisfyingly full-throated without ever getting too boomy — Apple says the speaker is outfitted with a low-frequency calibration microphone to automatically tune bass to suit the room. That low-end oomph doesn't come at the expense of clarity in mids or highs, either; snare drums have a satisfying snap, and vocals are airy and clear.

When playing from Apple Music, the HomePod is capable of both lossless playback and Dolby Atmos spatial audio. Of course, with a single speaker playing sound from a stationary location, spatial audio doesn't mean much — even with a bunch of tweeters and some software magic, one HomePod can't convincingly fake "spatial" sound.

And really, swapping back and forth between the same tracks on both services, it's tough for me to hear the difference between Apple Music's lossless tracks with Atmos and Spotify's regular ol' tracks with the quality set to "Very high." More discerning listeners might appreciate subtle differences, and the effect is surely more impactful with a stereo pair of HomePods, but for casual listening on a single speaker — the type of listening I imagine smart speakers are most often used for — it hardly makes any difference.

You can't customize the HomePod's equalizer; the only manual change Apple allows is a binary "Reduce bass" toggle. That's handy for nighttime listening when you don't want to bother others, but it's lagging behind the personalization most other smart speakers offer.



At $300, the HomePod is competing at the higher end of the smart speaker space. The nearest Alexa-based alternative is likely Amazon's $200 Echo Studio. The Studio is considerably more affordable and integrates more easily with more services, including Spotify and Amazon Music, and has both Bluetooth connectivity and a 3.5mm line-in — the HomePod has neither. But it doesn't offer the tight Apple ecosystem integration the HomePod does, and it doesn't support AirPlay.

The HomePod is meant to exist inside Apple's ecosystem, interacting with Apple hardware and software in ways speakers from other manufacturers simply can't.

There's also the $250 Sonos Era 100, which, like the Echo, offers access to Alexa and all the benefits that conveys, as well as Bluetooth, line-in via an optional accessory, and AirPlay support. And of course, the Era 100 syncs up with any other Sonos speakers you may have around. But again, you can't pair it with an Apple TV for home theater audio output, or transfer a music stream from your iPhone to the speaker just by bringing the two near each other the way you can on the HomePod. Still, the Era 100 is a more flexible option at a slightly lower price.

But really, the HomePod is meant to exist inside Apple's ecosystem, interacting with Apple hardware and software in ways speakers from other manufacturers simply can't. If you know you want what the HomePod offers, but you don't want to drop $300 on it, the only more affordable analog is the HomePod Mini, which does all the same stuff as the full-size version, only with less powerful audio output.

Should you buy it?

The second-generation HomePod is a powerful smart speaker with an attractive, minimalist look. If you're a dedicated Apple user — that is, you carry an iPhone, regularly interact with Siri, stream music over Apple Music, and maybe have an Apple TV — there'll be a lot for you to like about the HomePod. In fact, it should probably be your first choice when it comes to premium smart speakers.

Unless you happen to subscribe to one of the HomePod's supported music services, though, using it is a little bit of a chore. The only way to get Spotify on the thing is through AirPlay, which, of course, isn't accessible at all from the Android app. If, like me, you're a part-time Apple user, rocking an Android phone and a MacBook or an iPad, and getting your music through Spotify or Amazon, the HomePod is still a good speaker. But the experience isn't nearly as compelling — or worth the price.

Source: Apple
Apple HomePod (2nd generation)

Apple's second-generation HomePod is an excellent smart speaker for anyone already invested in Apple's ecosystem — including Apple Music.