It's been more than three years since Apple announced the HomePod speaker. In that time Apple has issued a series of software updates improving the functionality of the device, but it has made little headway in the smart home audio devices market.
That could be about to change with the arrival of the HomePod mini, a new smaller HomePod with a smaller price.
The HomePod mini will start at £99/$99 and will be available to pre-order on 6 November, and to buy on 16 November.
Read on to find out all about Apple's new HomePod mini.
HomePod mini release date
You can now pre-order the HomePod mini from Apple as of Friday 6 November.
The HomePod mini will go on sale on Monday 16 November.
HomePod mini price
- The HomePod mini costs £99/$99.
We think a cheaper HomePod is something Apple has needed for a long time. Apple's competition in this market - Amazon and Google - have similarly priced high-end speakers that are comparable to the HomePod, but they also have low-cost speakers that start at just £49.99/$49.99 for the Echo Dot (which is often on offer for £29.99).
While some people are prepared to pay more for high-quality audio not everyone is prepared to spend a lot of money - and many people are oblivious to the difference in sound quality and a £50 speaker is more than sufficient. Hopefully, £99/$99 won't be too much for them.
When you consider that there are speakers that are more than adequate for most people it is no surprise that Apple's original HomePod failed to take the world by storm. When Apple launched the HomePod it cost a staggering £319/$349. Apple did make an attempt to address the issue when back in April 2019 it reduced the price of HomePod so it now costs £279/$299 (You can buy it direct from Apple here and now various resellers are discounting it to £199/$199).
While there are similarly-priced speakers from Amazon and Google they aren't as popular as the cheaper options those companies make.
Apple seems to have come to the decision that if it is to make any noise in the smart speaker market a low-cost answer was required.
This isn't the first time it's made such a move. From the iPod to the iPad Apple has always eventually introduced an entry-level model to appease the masses, and that's exactly how Apple's Tim Cook described this introduction during the video presentation: "Bring the experience to even more people".
Hopefully it's not a case of too little too late.
Curiour about how the HomePod and HomePod mini compare? Read HomePod vs HomePod mini.
HomePod mini design
The new HomePod mini shares some design elements with the existing HomePod, such as the mesh fabric and the Space Grey and white options, so it's undoubtedly an Apple product, but the new look is quite obviously different to the HomePod.
This isn't a shrunken HomePod. It's got a more spherical design.
As for height: the HomePod is just 3.3in tall compared to the standard HomePod which is 7in.
One design element that's likely to be popular is the backlit surface on the top of the device.
HomePod mini features
The three-year-old HomePod is already very powerful and the new HomePod mini will match many of the features.
Over time software updates have improved the HomePod: iOS 13 brought the ability for Siri on the HomePod to recognise your voice, iOS 14 bought the option to choose a third-party music streaming service, such as Spotify, as your default. Read about what HomePod can do here.
All these features will also be available on the HomePod mini, but there are some nice new features that Apple is introducing with this model (which we imagine will be available to users of the original too).
First up - the HomePod can be used as an Intercom. Assuming you have more than one HomePod or HomePod mini in your home you can record a message on one smart speaker and have it broadcast to other Apple speakers in your home - including AirPods. You'll also be able to send these Intercom messages from the car (via CarPlay) or via your AirPods during a workout, and even on your Apple Watch. So you need never arrive unannounced again. Find out how to use Intercom on HomePod, AirPods, iPhone and other products.
Also, if you have two or more HomePods you will be able to sync your music around the house, or use two HomePods or HomePods mini in one room to create a stereo pair. Again, this isn't a feature that's unique to the HomePod mini - but it's likely that people will be more willing to buy two HomePod mini than they were when the stereo feature was first added to the original and pricy HomePod.
Finally there are some nice visual effects that you can see on the top of your HomePod mini when your iPhone is nearby, and a new Handoff-style feature coming later this year will give you haptic feedback when your iPhone and HomePod mini connect.
Read What the HomePod can do to find out more.
HomePod mini sound
The original HomePod will probably beat the HomePod mini in terms of sound quality, but that is to be expected. The HomePod features a high-excursion woofer and an array of seven tweeters - there simply isn't room inside the HomePod mini for that.
So instead the HomePod mini uses its S5 processor to processes complex algorithms that allow it to produce balanced and fine-tuned sound, according to Apple.
Apple says the HomePod mini uses computational audio to create the full, detailed tones of a much larger speaker.
The company also explains that there is a unique acoustic waveguide that directs sound out the bottom of the speaker, creating a 360‑degree audio field for consistent sound no matter where you are in the room. This is the equivalent to Spatial Awareness - which is a feature that is only available for the HomePod - buy similarly analyzes the acoustics and adjusts the sound based on the speaker's location.
Thanks to this Apple-designed acoustic waveguide you can position the speaker anywhere in a room for 360-degree audio.
Considering picking one up? Check out where to pre-order the HomePod mini.