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 dwelling 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 bundle 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 unique 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 reasonably priced sensible speaker providing. 

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

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

Do not Like

  • Siri nonetheless is not one of the best 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 rivals. 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 an identical to the unique HomePod.

Briefly, Apple did not wow me with a rethinking of the small sensible speaker. Nevertheless, the HomePod Mini is handsome. It is adorably apple-shaped and predictably glossy. It suits 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 notice: the material on the speaker and the spherical form are designed to boost audio high quality. I am unable to show that it does, however the HomePod Mini actually 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 basic expectation of what sensible audio system can do. If I stated, “Properly, it does all the essential sensible speaker stuff,” you’d just about know what I meant. Climate, commute occasions, basic information questions, making calls and taking part in music are all customary 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 count on. Options are software-based and up to date as Apple sees match on each the HomePod and HomePod Mini. I am going to define a number of 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 glossy.


Chris Monroe/CNET

Intercom

Apple’s new Intercom characteristic catches as much as Google’s Broadcast and Amazon’s Drop In capabilities. On the HomePod or HomePod Mini, you possibly can 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 rapidly in my testing. You may select to show off Intercom within the Dwelling app settings for every gadget. You too can choose when to obtain notifications. Your choices are “By no means,” “Once I’m dwelling” or “Wherever.” Nice information for fogeys 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 almost as dangerous as when your father might 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 characteristic. It really works with HomePod or HomePod Mini when your gadget has Bluetooth turned on and is on the identical Wi-Fi community as your sensible dwelling audio system.

Hover the cellphone near the speaker and you will really feel haptic suggestions and see a notification seem to let you understand 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 could be my favourite HomePod Mini characteristic. It is easy, and it really works with out tapping or asking Siri to do something. Due to 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 may pair two HomePod Minis collectively for stereo sound. I examined this with a third-generation Apple TV, and a nature documentary full of scurrying animals and majestic theme music. Left and proper channel separation is simple to arrange whereas creating the speaker pair and it really works nicely. 

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Two HomePod Minis may be paired for stereo sound.


Chris Monroe/CNET

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

Audio high quality

Apple packed lots 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 simple to detect. In comparison with the most recent 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 combat. Clearly a much bigger speaker just like the Echo or Nest Audio will ship larger sound. Whereas the HomePod Mini is certainly loud for its measurement, the comparability in audio continues to be a lot nearer to the Nest Mini or Echo Dot. Nevertheless, these audio system normally price lower than $50. 

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


Chris Monroe/CNET

In terms of pure quantity, the Echo Dot was the loudest in our exams, 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, however 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 components in songs I hadn’t observed earlier than because of its clear sound separation. 

When 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. In your identical $100, you may get higher sound from the Nest Audio and Echo. When you should have an Apple speaker, and should have top-notch sound, it could be prudent to search for a deal on the $300 unique HomePod.

Dwelling candy HomeKit

The HomePod Mini, just like the bigger mannequin, Apple TV and iPad, is a Dwelling hub. Meaning you’ll arrange a whole Siri-controlled sensible dwelling 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 presents the fewest suitable sensible dwelling 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.

When you’re into DIY sensible dwelling experimentation, you possibly can create workaround with plugins from Homebridge, a server you possibly can run on your house community that bridges non-HomeKit units to the iOS HomeKit API. That resolution is not going to be snug for everybody, however it does exist. 

Siri additionally is not probably the most intuitive, smartest or most private voice assistant. In our HomePod Mini testing there have been nonetheless basic 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 aid you with that, however should you inform me the identify of the film or television present, I can search for the solid for you.”

In the meantime, Alexa solely supplied 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.” Certain, I need not 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’ve got vowed to stay with, love and cherish Siri as your voice assistant, persona flaws and all. In that case, keep it up. 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 reasonably priced sensible speaker for nearly everybody.


Chris Monroe/CNET

Conclusion

When you’re an Apple fan, you are going to love this $99 sensible speaker. It is as low-cost as Apple merchandise will seemingly ever be. It sounds nice, seems to be good and delivers the sensible speaker performance we have all come to count on because of its rivals. In case you have an iPhone and an Apple TV, it is a no brainer to go the HomePod Mini route for establishing your sensible dwelling. 

It is not for everybody, although. When you’re an Android cellphone consumer, the HomePod Mini will not invite you into HomeKit. That is OK, as a result of you will have a plethora of extra reasonably priced choices to select from. Spend the identical $100 and get two (and even three if a sale is going on) Echo Dots or Nest Minis. Pair them in stereo sound, join 1000’s of suitable units to them and revel in. You possibly can additionally splurge on the Nest Audio or Amazon Echo for larger, higher sound in a single speaker. 

When 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 dwelling units you actually need in your house and whether or not or not Siri can assist them. Google and Alexa sensible dwelling apps work nicely on iPhones, so you’ve got received three succesful suitors searching for the keys to your sensible dwelling. 

The excellent news right here is that there’s lastly an reasonably priced Apple choice for HomeKit and Siri fans. The HomePod Mini is as on-par as Apple needs 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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