Apple HomePod Mini review: This $99 Siri smart speaker will sell like hotcakes
Apple HomePod Mini review: Apple’s long-awaited HomePod Mini is finally here. The smaller Siri-enabled smart home hub bridges a strange gap between smart speakers, with a $99 price tag like Google’sand the but in a small package like the and . ( .) Apple unveiled its original HomePod two years after Amazon dropped its first small smart speaker. Bulky and expensive, it didn’t sweep the market. Now, Apple is back at it with the HomePod Mini, a smaller, more affordable smart speaker offering.
The HomePod Mini is Apple’s newest smart speaker. Chris Monroe/CNET
In short, if you like Apple — and if Siri is your smart assistant of choice and HomeKit is your preferred smart home hub — you’re going to love Apple’s newest smart speaker. If you’re already living with an iPhone, Apple TV or original HomePod the Mini makes sense as your next small smart speaker. If not, well, we have a few more ideas on how to spend that $99.
- It sounds great
- It’s small
- It’s under $100
- Siri still isn’t the best assistant
- HomeKit needs more compatible accessories
- Other small smart speakers are $50 or less
The HomePod Mini is small and spherical like its competitors. It’s wrapped in an acoustics-friendly mesh fabric, and comes in white or space gray. The touch control pad with LED indicators is nearly identical to the original HomePod.
In short, Apple didn’t wow me with a rethinking of the small smart speaker. However, the HomePod Mini is good-looking. It’s adorably apple-shaped and predictably sleek. It fits the Apple aesthetic and at 3.3 inches, the HomePod Mini is so small it hides easily on your bookshelf, desk or kitchen counter.
One note: the fabric on the speaker and the spherical shape are designed to enhance audio quality. I can’t prove that it does, but the HomePod Mini certainly doesn’t sound like it’s being muffled or hindered by any design features.
We’ve reached a point in the smart speaker timeline where there’s a general expectation of what smart speakers can do. If I said, “Well, it does all the basic smart speaker stuff,” you’d pretty much know what I meant. Weather, commute times, general knowledge questions, making calls and playing music are all standard fare for smart speakers from every brand.
That’s the story here. The HomePod Mini does the Siri things we’ve come to expect. Features are software-based and updated as Apple sees fit on both the HomePod and HomePod Mini. I’ll outline some of the features I tested on the HomePod Mini. Some of these are also coming (or already present) on the larger HomePod.