Apple HomePod Review: Apple doesn’t often release a new product that isn’t the first of its kind, at least in the last couple of years. Tim Cook and his team started a period of dominance in the wearables and hearables markets with the Watch and AirPods. The iPad remains the most popular tablet, while the sales of the MacBook and iPhone speak for themselves. The HomePod is an oddball among Apple’s products. Amazon and Google, two of Apple’s biggest competitors in this market, had smart speakers out before Apple did. By the time the HomePod came out in 2017, Amazon had improved its Echo devices and created its own market. Whoever didn’t want Amazon went down Google Street.
The first HomePod came out in 2017—a year later in India—and was a powerful speaker for people who were already using Apple products. It sounded great, but it didn’t work well with third-party devices, and Siri was, well, Siri: a bit hit-or-miss. Apple realized that the HomePod wasn’t working out, so almost a year after the HomePod mini came out, the first-generation smart speaker was officially discontinued. Even though the HomePod sounded great, it was clear that it hadn’t made a big impression.
Apple hasn’t given up on smart speakers, and the HomePod has a new, or new-ish, look. This one is more expensive, looks pretty much the same as the last one, and has better sound quality. Will that be enough to make the HomePod famous? Here’s what we thought after testing Apple’s latest smart speaker:
Apple HomePod Review
I put the new HomePod in the same spot as the old one. A lot of people came to my house, and not one of them made a joke about whether or not there was a new speaker in the house. That’s because the new HomePod looks almost exactly the same as the old one. The review HomePod was Midnight color, which is black with a little bit of blue. From far away, you can’t tell the difference between Midnight and black. Come closer, and maybe you will. But they are not the same. A few millimeters and grams less are added to the length and weight of the new HomePod. Apple has also made the mesh fabric pattern on the cylinder-shaped speaker finer, but again, most people wouldn’t notice. It’s too bad that Apple didn’t give the HomePod the same bright colors as the HomePod mini, because it would really stand out in new colors.
Changes have been made to the screen on top of the HomePod. Apple has made it a little bit smaller, but now Siri animations fill the screen. In the old model, it only lit up in the middle, but now it looks more like it’s all around you. Still, it seems like a waste of screen space. It would have been nice to be able to see the cover art or other track information on it. The volume buttons are now always visible on the screen, which wasn’t the case with the last model. In fact, now that I think about it, if you had to change the volume on the old model, you usually had to pause the song.
The HomePod has always been a great speaker, but the new one sounds even better. The signature sound is a step above the rest because it makes a sound that is rich, immersive, and surprisingly powerful.
In this way, the new HomePod does a great job of carrying on this tradition. I listened to a lot of different kinds of music on the HomePod, and each time I was impressed. The version of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” by Bob Dylan that Guns ‘n’ Roses did sounds very balanced. Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton is a great example of how well the HomePod can handle vocals. “Tere Mere Saath” by Lucky Ali sounds great because the instruments are so well separated. The bass has been turned down a bit, but it’s still good. On some speakers, Run-“Walk DMC’s This Way” has a bit too much bass, but not on the HomePod.
When it comes to playing music, the HomePod is a real powerhouse. It can play anything from AP Dhillon to ZZ Top. Even though it’s not the loudest speaker on the market, the HomePod’s best feature is still how well it sounds. In that way, very few smart speakers can even come close to it.
Apple has changed a lot about how the HomePod works on the inside. For example, there are now only five tweeters instead of the seven that were in the first HomePod. The A8 processor is what makes the HomePod work, and there is also a new system sensor that Apple says adjusts the sound based on the room the HomePod is in. To be fair, I didn’t notice much of a difference between the two rooms where the HomePod was kept. It sounded just as good as before.
The new HomePod has a lot going for it. It has great sound quality and is still the easiest smart speaker to set up (as long as you have an iPhone). Is that something important? Yes, it is, and if you try to set up an Echo device, you will see how easy it is to set up the HomePod.
If you have an iPhone, this is the best music speaker you can buy on its own. Just in terms of sound quality, Apple has once again shown how smart it is and come through in a big way. But the HomePod isn’t the smart speaker you want, especially if you don’t have an iPhone. Siri can be annoying, and compared to Alexa, it still has a long way to go.
The thing about the HomePod is that it doesn’t feel like a new speaker, even though it is. If you already have the old HomePod, I’m not sure there’s a good reason for you to upgrade. If you already have a HomePod mini, it might make sense if you want a HomePod. At Rs 32,990, Apple may have priced itself out of the range of a large number of possible buyers. The HomePod is only a speaker for Apple fans who don’t want to use it like a traditional smart speaker.
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