HomePod Mini assessment: Apple followers will love this $99 Siri sensible speaker


The HomePod Mini is Apple’s latest sensible speaker.


Chris Monroe/CNET

Apple’s long-awaited HomePod Mini is lastly right here. The smaller Siri-enabled sensible house hub bridges a wierd hole between sensible audio system, with a $99 (£99, AU$149) price ticket like Google’s Nest Audio and the Amazon Echo however in a small package deal just like the Nest Mini and Echo Dot. (Here’s how Apple’s HomePod Mini compares to the Amazon Echo and Nest Audio.) Apple unveiled its authentic HomePod two years after Amazon dropped its first small sensible speaker. Cumbersome and costly, it did not sweep the market. Now, Apple is again at it with the HomePod Mini, a smaller, extra inexpensive sensible speaker providing. 

In brief, should you like Apple — and if Siri is your sensible assistant of alternative and HomeKit is your most well-liked sensible house hub — you are going to love Apple’s latest sensible speaker. In case you’re already dwelling with an iPhone, Apple TV or authentic HomePod the Mini is sensible as your subsequent small sensible speaker. If not, properly, we now have a couple of extra concepts on how you can spend that $99. 

Learn extra: HomePod vs. HomePod Mini: Which Apple speaker is best?

Do not Like

  • Siri nonetheless is not the perfect assistant
  • HomeKit wants extra suitable equipment
  • Different small sensible audio system are $50 or much less

Design

The HomePod Mini is small and spherical like its opponents. It is wrapped in an acoustics-friendly mesh cloth, and is available in white or house grey. The contact management pad with LED indicators is sort of similar to the unique HomePod.

In brief, Apple did not wow me with a rethinking of the small sensible speaker. Nonetheless, the HomePod Mini is handsome. It is adorably apple-shaped and predictably modern. It matches the Apple aesthetic and at 3.Three inches, the HomePod Mini is so small it hides itself simply in your bookshelf, desk or kitchen counter.

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The HomePod Mini subsequent to the unique HomePod.


Chris Monroe/CNET

One be aware: the material on the speaker and the spherical form are designed to reinforce audio high quality. I am unable to show that it does, however the HomePod Mini definitely does not sound prefer it’s being muffled or hindered by any design options.  


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Apple HomePod Mini is the small sensible speaker for Siri



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Options

We have reached a degree within the sensible speaker timeline the place there is a normal expectation of what sensible audio system can do. If I mentioned, “Properly, it does all the fundamental sensible speaker stuff,” you’d just about know what I meant. Climate, commute instances, normal information questions, making calls and enjoying music are all commonplace fare for sensible audio system from each model.

That is the story right here. The HomePod Mini does the Siri issues we have come to anticipate. Options are software-based and up to date as Apple sees match on each the HomePod and HomePod Mini. I am going to define among the options I examined on the HomePod Mini. A few of these are additionally coming (or already current) on the bigger HomePod. 

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The HomePod Mini is small and modern.


Chris Monroe/CNET

Intercom

Apple’s new Intercom function catches as much as Google’s Broadcast and Amazon’s Drop In capabilities. On the HomePod or HomePod Mini, you may ship a voice message to different Apple units in your house. Different customers can ship a voice reply again by saying, “Hey, Siri, reply…”

Intercom labored shortly in my testing. You possibly can select to show off Intercom within the Residence app settings for every machine. You can too choose when to obtain notifications. Your choices are “By no means,” “After I’m house” or “Anyplace.” Nice information for folks and horrible information for teenagers — Intercom can ship voice messages to all of the iPhones‌, ‌iPads‌, Apple Watches ‌and AirPods within the household. (That is nonetheless not practically as dangerous as when your father may walkie-talkie squawk you in your Nextel in 2005.) 

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Handoff transfers sound out of your cellphone to your HomePod Mini and again once more.


Chris Monroe/CNET

Handoff

Sending audio out of your iPhone to your sensible speaker and again once more is simple with Apple’s handoff function. It really works with HomePod or HomePod Mini when your machine has Bluetooth turned on and is on the identical Wi-Fi community as your sensible house audio system.

Hover the cellphone near the speaker and you may really feel haptic suggestions and see a notification seem to let you realize the audio is transferring to the HomePod. Whenever you’re able to put the audio again in your cellphone, the method works in reverse. 

This is likely to be my favourite HomePod Mini function. It is easy, and it really works with out tapping or asking Siri to do something. Because of the HomePod Mini’s U1 ultra wideband chip, handoff will get higher in future updates with improved visuals, haptic suggestions and audio results.

Stereo pairing

You possibly can pair two HomePod Minis collectively for stereo sound. I examined this with a third-generation Apple TV, and a nature documentary stuffed with scurrying animals and majestic theme music. Left and proper channel separation is simple to arrange whereas creating the speaker pair and it really works properly. 

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Two HomePod Minis will be paired for stereo sound.


Chris Monroe/CNET

This is not an Apple-only function. Google and Amazon sensible audio system can do that, too. I actually loved the sound and channel separation of two Nest Audio audio system once we examined them earlier this yr. Whereas two HomePod Minis won’t compete with a high-end surround-sound system, they’re definitely an improve out of your TV’s inventory speaker, particularly should you can place them strategically in your leisure house to make the most of that channel separation.  

Audio high quality

Apple packed loads of audio energy right into a small speaker. It is loud sufficient to fill a room with sound. Bass, mids and treble are all distinct and straightforward to detect. In comparison with the newest Echo Dot and Nest Mini, the HomePod Mini is clearer and fewer distorted. 

Evaluating the sound between the HomePod Mini and different $100 sensible audio system is a little bit of an unfair battle. Clearly an even bigger speaker just like the Echo or Nest Audio will ship larger sound. Whereas the HomePod Mini is unquestionably loud for its measurement, the comparability in audio continues to be a lot nearer to the Nest Mini or Echo Dot. Nonetheless, these audio system often value lower than $50. 

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From left: Amazon Echo Dot (2020), Nest Mini, HomePod Mini.


Chris Monroe/CNET

On the subject of pure quantity, the Echo Dot was the loudest in our checks, however at full quantity it additionally generated sufficient distortion to distract from the listening expertise. The Nest Mini is not as loud, and it does not have the identical distortion points, nevertheless it lacks highly effective bass.

In the meantime the HomePod Mini hits the candy spot. It does job of balancing audio. You continue to get loads of bass with out sacrificing readability. I even discovered myself noticing elements in songs I hadn’t observed earlier than because of its clear sound separation. 

In case you’re actually into music, likelihood is you are not betting your listening expertise on any of those pint-size audio system. You would be proper to maneuver alongside. On your identical $100, you will get higher sound from the Nest Audio and Echo. In case you should have an Apple speaker, and should have top-notch sound, it is likely to be prudent to search for a deal on the $300 authentic HomePod.

Residence candy HomeKit

The HomePod Mini, just like the bigger mannequin, Apple TV and iPad, is a Residence hub. Which means you can arrange a complete Siri-controlled sensible house with the assistance of this little speaker. The query is — do you need to?

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Arlo Professional and Professional 2 cameras work with Apple HomeKit. 


Chris Monroe/CNET

HomeKit nonetheless affords the fewest suitable sensible house merchandise in contrast with Google and Amazon. Your choices for cameras, thermostats and sensible locks are restricted. There are not any sensible show choices until your iPad can serve the aim.

In case you’re into DIY sensible house experimentation, you may create workaround with plugins from Homebridge, a server you may run on your own home community that bridges non-HomeKit units to the iOS HomeKit API. That resolution is not going to be comfy for everybody, nevertheless it does exist. 

Siri additionally is not essentially the most intuitive, smartest or most private voice assistant. In our HomePod Mini testing there have been nonetheless normal information questions that Siri did not perceive or could not reply.

This is a current, however admittedly trivial instance. I requested all three assistants, “Who performs Batman?” Siri’s response was, “Sorry, I am unable to allow you to with that, however should you inform me the identify of the film or television present, I can search for the forged for you.”

In the meantime, Alexa solely provided up Ben Affleck, and Google knowledgeable me, “Batman has been performed by 51 actors. Listed here are the primary three; Robert Pattinson, Christian Bale and Ben Affleck.” Positive, I needn’t know the chronological checklist of Batmen in my day by day life, however should you’re making an attempt to settle a household argument, these type of smarts matter.  

For anybody who’s frolicked with Siri on their iPhone or Apple TV through the years, these shortcomings won’t flip you off. Maybe you have vowed to reside with, love and cherish Siri as your voice assistant, character flaws and all. In that case, stick with it. Add a HomePod Mini or two to your life and revel in nice sound with the Siri you already know. 

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HomePod Mini is Apple’s inexpensive sensible speaker for nearly everybody.


Chris Monroe/CNET

Conclusion

In case you’re an Apple fan, you are going to love this $99 sensible speaker. It is as low cost as Apple merchandise will doubtless ever be. It sounds nice, seems good and delivers the sensible speaker performance we have all come to anticipate because of its opponents. You probably have an iPhone and an Apple TV, it is a no brainer to go the HomePod Mini route for organising your sensible house. 

It is not for everybody, although. In case you’re an Android cellphone consumer, the HomePod Mini will not invite you into HomeKit. That is OK, as a result of you’ve got a plethora of extra inexpensive choices to select from. Spend the identical $100 and get two (and even three if a sale is occurring) Echo Dots or Nest Minis. Pair them in stereo sound, join hundreds of suitable units to them and revel in. You may additionally splurge on the Nest Audio or Amazon Echo for larger, higher sound in a single speaker. 

In case you’re an iPhone consumer, however you haven’t any different Apple units, your soul-searching will likely be a bit extra difficult. You may want to contemplate what sensible house units you actually need in your house and whether or not or not Siri can help them. Google and Alexa sensible house apps work properly on iPhones, so you have bought three succesful suitors searching for the keys to your sensible house. 

The excellent news right here is that there’s lastly an inexpensive Apple choice for HomeKit and Siri lovers. The HomePod Mini is as on-par as Apple desires to make it with Google and Amazon’s choices, and I might advocate it to anybody invested within the Apple universe. 



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Anil Kumar

Anil Kumar Gadgets writes for Review Tech smartphones, wearables, headphones and speakers based in Delhi for 360 Tech News. Anil Gadgets is a reviewer for 360 Tech News and has written in detail about smartphones, software updates and upcoming devices.

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