Nearly five years after the original HomePod was released, Apple finally lifted the lid on the HomePod 2 today in a surprise announcement. The first-generation HomePod received critical acclaim, but perhaps didn’t take the market by storm as Apple hoped, as it was discontinued in March 2021 and has no replacement lined up… yet.
The HomePod 2 launches on February 3, so while we don’t have a review unit to compare side-by-side, there’s plenty from Apple’s extensive press release detailing how the new and old HomePods compare. Expect to see updates on this page once we get the HomePod 2 in for testing and review, where we can fully compare both generations.
Apple HomePod vs HomePod 2: price
In a very un-Apple move, the new HomePod is actually cheaper than the original. The HomePod 2 costs £299 / $299 / AU$479, while the original retailed for £319 / $349 / AU$499. The savings aren’t exactly life-changing, but it’s a welcome change nonetheless.
However, it’s quite a bit more expensive than the HomePod Mini, which retails for £99 / $99 / AU$149 – although both products offer different propositions.
Apple HomePod vs HomePod 2: design
Apple hasn’t reinvented HomePods design with this second-generation model, opting instead for subtle updates. The backlit touchscreen now extends edge-to-edge across the top surface of the cylindrical speaker, while the rest of the device’s visible surface is wrapped in the fabric mesh material; that Apple has recreated from 100 percent recycled materials. The design language is even carried through to the power cord, which is now a woven fabric style.
The similar design to the original speaker is a nice touch if you’re planning on including a mix of original HomePods and HomePod 2s in a multi-room setup, as they need to look uniform.
The HomePod 2 is 6.6 inches long by 5.6 inches wide and weighs 2.3kg, making it just a little shorter and 200g lighter than the original. We suspect the weight difference is due to the new HomePod dropping two of its tweeters; more on that later.
Apple HomePod vs HomePod 2: Features
The HomePod 2 includes many of the same features as the original model, including an operating system built around Apple’s voice-activated assistant Siri. Like Amazon’s Echo speakers, you can give the assistant a command phrase, here it is “hey Siri”, and ask it to play music, answer questions, read the news and weather, control your smart home appliances to operate and much more. While it’s undoubtedly useful, we found the HomePod relied too much on voice controls in our initial review, so more touch controls or a dedicated HomePod app could be useful – but there’s no sign of that with this second-gen.
Apple has highlighted the NFC transfer feature on the new HomePod, which was also available on the previous generation and Mini; this allows you to transfer music playback from your iPhone to your HomePod by tapping the two devices together. The HomePod can also now transfer suggested playlists and podcasts to your iPhone if they’re nearby too. You may have noticed that we’ve specified the iPhone here, as Android users will once again be left out in the cold by the HomePod.
As with the first-generation HomePod, you’ll need an Apple device to set up and control the HomePod 2 – so don’t buy a HomePod unless you have an iPhone, iPad or MacBook handy.
As for other more positive features returning with the HomePod 2, Apple’s excellent Spatial Audio system is here on the HomePod 2, with Apple claiming you’ll receive impressively immersive audio with either a single HomePod, or two paired into one. stereo configuration. As for pairing HomePods together, you can still add a pair to an Apple TV 4K to output TV audio – love it or hate it, the ecosystem is here to stay on the HomePod 2.
So what does the HomePod 2 do that the original can’t? Well, this year it’s all about Matter, a new wireless standard that brings harmony to your smart home. Other big tech companies like Google, Samsung, Philips and Amazon have all signed up to this shared standard, meaning your HomePod 2 can fit into your smart home setup with little to no hassle.
Apple HomePod vs HomePod 2: sound
While the exterior of the HomePod hasn’t changed much, Apple has completely redesigned the interior of the HomePod 2, which may indicate a change in audio performance.
As mentioned earlier, Apple actually left out two of the tweeters in this new model, meaning the HomePod 2 now combines the five-tweeter arrangement with a four-inch woofer and five microphones used for everything from receiving voice commands to automatically adjusting the sound based on whether you place the HomePod in a corner or more centrally.
Despite Apple dropping two of the tweeters, the company claims the new HomePod is a breakthrough in audio performance, hinting that the new HomePod could be a pretty significant upgrade in the audio department.
The original HomePod was no slouch, earning five stars in its review thanks to its heavy and authoritative sound, although we felt the mid-range could be better defined at times. We expect to hear the HomePod 2 for ourselves to see if it can top the impressive performance of its predecessor.
There’s only one catch we’ve seen so far, the lack of any reference to High-Resolution Audio. Apple Music features Hi-Res lossless support, which Apple likes to boast about, so its absence from this first HomePod reveal is somewhat disappointing.
Apple HomePod vs HomePod 2: early verdict
This is a very easy conclusion; if you want a full-size HomePod, get the HomePod 2. It’s cheaper, smarter, and has better compatibility, and the fact that you can’t even buy the original anymore (unless you go the second-hand route) makes the decision even easier .
With its upgraded smart integration and hopefully impressive sound to match, we’re glad the HomePod is finally making its triumphant return, filling the HomePod-shaped gap in Apple’s lineup that’s been absent for nearly two years now.
Be sure to check back for our full HomePod 2 review coming soon where we get to fully assess the smart speaker’s audio capabilities.
Read our full Apple HomePod review
And our Apple HomePod Mini review
The HomePod 2 has no competition – and that’s a problem