Apple has finally unveiled its long-awaited HomePod 2 smart speaker, after years of speculation.
But with the new Apple technology that is incredibly similar Which hi-fi?s favorite smart speakers, the Sonos One, you may be wondering which is best for your specific needs and budget.
To provide early guidance, we’ve created this guide based on our expert knowledge of the market and experience of using the Sonos One and the first-generation Apple HomePod.
To be clear, this is an early versus feature – we haven’t had the new Apple HomePod 2 up for review yet. We’ll update this page with our final verdict on which is better when we’ve put the new Apple speaker through its paces in our test rooms, so check back often with Which Hi-Fi? in the coming weeks!
Apple HomePod 2 vs Sonos One: price
Apple’s HomePod 2 is significantly more expensive than the Sonos One, costing £299 / $299 on the Apple Store. The Sonos One currently retails for £199/$199 on the company’s official store, though we’ve seen it for just £170/$170 from competing outlets such as Amazon and RicherSounds.
Apple HomePod 2 vs Sonos One: release date
The Apple HomePod 2 was launched and made available for pre-order on January 18, 2023 and will ship on February 3. The Sonos One (second-generation) we’re comparing it to is much older, having come out way back in 2019 – a year after the first-generation Apple HomePod made its debut. The original first-generation Sonos One is older still, of course, having launched in 2017.
Apple HomePod 2 vs Sonos One: design
At first glance, the HomePod 2 and Sonos One look quite similar. Both come in black or white color options and are the same length: the HomePod 2 is 17cm (6.6in) long, while the Sonos One is a slightly stubbier 16cm (6.36in). But up close, the two speakers have some distinct differences.
For starters, the Apple HomePod 2 has a 360 audio, cylindrical shape, while the Sonos has a rounded square design. Plus, for the environmentally conscious, the HomePod 2’s woven-finish speaker grille is made from “100% recycled materials,” according to Apple. There is no such guarantee on the Sonos.
Additionally, while both have capacitive controls, the Apple HomePod’s interface includes a backlight.
Apple HomePod 2 vs. Sonos One: sound
Under the hood, both also have quite different speaker setups. The HomePod 2 has a single 10 cm (4 inch) woofer combined with five tweeters and five microphones. This is a change from the original HomePod which had seven tweeters and seven microphones. The Sonos One has a setup that combines two Class-D digital amplifiers with a single tweeter and mid-woofer.
We haven’t reviewed the HomePod 2 speaker yet, so can’t make any definitive comments on how the audio compares to that of the Sonos One. However, we can draw some conclusions based on our experience with Apple’s first generation speaker and the Sonos.
We gave the first-generation HomePod and Sonos One five stars each when we reviewed them. A big part of this judgment was how much better they sound in our testing than competing smart speakers, including the newer Amazon Echo Studio we tested last year.
Our expert testers went so far as to report “at no point in our test did we play a single piece of music that sounds anything other than absolutely correct” for the HomePod. They were equally enthusiastic about the One, calling it “top of the sonic charts for wireless speakers at this price point”.
We’ll be interested to see how the two compare when we get the new HomePod 2 into our test rooms.
Our review process includes how good they sound in specific setups and locations. Both speakers feature beamforming technology, which allows them to scan their environment and optimize their audio settings accordingly. They also have the ability to work in stereo with other speakers from the same family, such as the mic-less Sonos One SL or another current-generation Apple HomePod 2. Unfortunately, Apple’s new speaker won’t sync with a first-generation HomePod or HomePod Mini.
We’ve found in the past that some speakers are much better than others at optimizing their sound and working in stereo and multi-room setups.
Party Up on a UE speaker, such as the recently reviewed Wonderboom 3, is nowhere near as accurate and lacks the directional quality we experience when using multiple linked Sonos speakers, for example.
Apple HomePod 2 vs. Sonos One: Smart features
So far, you may be rightfully wondering why the HomePod 2 is so much more expensive than the Sonos. From what we’ve seen, the answer seems to be the advanced smart functionality of the new speaker.
For Apple users, the HomePod 2 offers much more smart home functionality than the Sonos One.
For starters, the HomePod 2 has built-in temperature and humidity sensors. This, according to Apple, allows users to create smart home automations to, for example, play a siren when it detects smoke or carbon monoxide. The microphones can also reportedly be set to alert you if the speaker detects certain sounds, such as signs of a break-in.
The HomePod 2 is also the only one of the two to support the Matter standard. This is a new smart home standard used by most major technology companies and is designed to allow devices to communicate. On paper, this means the HomePod 2 can act as a control station for all Matter-enabled smart home devices, including alarms, smart lights, routers, and cameras.
The downside to this is that the controls are locked to Apple’s Siri assistant, which isn’t great for people who don’t have a recent iPhone or iPad, or who prefer the competing Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa platforms – which the Sonos One supports Siri on top.
At first glance, the HomePod 2 looks like a very attractive piece of kit, especially if you want to use it as a smart home control center, thanks to its Matter support.
However, the big question for us is how good it sounds. Until we know it’s hard to call which is better; despite the lack of Matter support and the extra sensors, the Sonos One is a lot cheaper and has brilliant multi-room functionality.
It also works with a wider range of digital assistants, which on paper makes it a more flexible choice for those outside Apple’s ecosystem. So the deciding factor will largely be the one area we don’t have direct experience with the new HomePod 2: audio quality.
Check out our early Apple HomePod 2 vs HomePod (1st generation) guide
Read our Apple HomePod 2 vs HomePod Mini comparison
Check out our picks of the best smart speakers