Apple HomePod & HomePod mini review: Sounds fantastic but which is better for you?

By Kenny Yeo - 22 Apr 2023

Buying advice & conclusion

Should you get them?

The HomePods are great for playing music.

There’s no doubt that the HomePod and HomePod mini sound fantastic for their size. And if playing music is a priority for you, you will be very happy with either of them. But you have to make sure you are an Apple Music subscriber. Will HomePods work with Spotify? Yes, but not natively. This means you can’t ask HomePods to play music from your Spotify playlists, you’ll have to manually open Spotify on your phone or tablet and stream it to the HomePods. 

But to really get the best out of the HomePods, you’ll need to be heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem. Sure, you could just use the HomePods with your iPhone or command it to play songs, but part of the beauty of the HomePods is being able to control and play music on your HomePods while using other Apple devices. Imagine working on your MacBook Pro in your living room and coming across a new song that you’d like to share and then quickly streaming it to the HomePod mini in the bedroom where your partner is resting. How magical is that? And those built-in temperature and humidity sensors would be wasted if you didn’t have some HomeKit-enabled smart home devices (like a smart air-conditioner or dehumidifier) to pair them with.

The only port on the HomePod is one for power. There's no optical, RCA, or even 3.5mm jack. Same goes for the HomePod mini.

Furthermore, if you want to use them as speakers for your TV, you’ll need an Apple TV 4K. It can’t just work with your TV because it doesn’t have any physical ports. Speaking of which, it also doesn’t support Bluetooth. So trying to stream music from any device other than one that is made by Apple can be tricky. 

I think you can see what I’m getting at. How great and useful the HomePod and HomePod mini are depends greatly on how invested you are in the Apple ecosystem. If you own multiple Apple devices and subscribe to Apple’s services like Apple Music and Apple TV+, you’ll find these speakers to be the perfect complement to your home and lifestyle. If you are not, then the value proposition becomes hazy and there are likely more worthwhile alternatives out there.

For example, if you just want to listen to music there’s no shortage of very good and affordable wireless speakers these days from Chinese manufacturers like Edifier and Swanspeakers. They may not be Wi-Fi-enabled or smart, but they make up for it by sounding very good and being very affordable. And as for smart speakers, again, there are numerous options from the likes of Amazon, Google, and even Sonos that work better with non-Apple devices.


Which one should you get?

Most people should be happy with the HomePod mini.

This question is actually surprisingly easy to answer. The way I see it, unless you really care about sound and/or have deep pockets, the HomePod mini is the sensible option for most people

To start, the HomePod mini is significantly cheaper - S$139 vs. S$429. This means for the price of one HomePod, you can get three HomePod minis and still have enough change for a McDonald’s Extra Value Meal. But crucially, the HomePod minis can do everything that the larger HomePods can. Really, the only things they lack are the more advanced driver configuration, real-time room-sensing and calibration, and support for spatial audio. Is that worth nearly S$300 more? I'm not sure.


Final thoughts

If the only Apple device you own is an iPhone and if your music streaming service of choice is Spotify, then you are better off looking elsewhere for a smart speaker that is more "agnostic" in the sense that it doesn't rely heavily on Apple's devices and services to work.

To put it in another way, the HomePods are extremely niche devices. They are smart speakers that work best for Apple’s most loyal customers, people who are deeply invested in the Apple ecosystem – and that means owning multiple Apple devices and subscribing to multiple Apple services. The more deeply invested you are, the more you’ll get out of the HomePods and HomePods mini. 

That’s a pretty curious way to design smart speakers if you are trying to grab market share. But the fact is, if you are the kind of person that I described above, these smart speakers can be really nice accompaniments in the home. They aren’t ground-breaking or exceptional in the same way some of Apple’s other products are, but they certainly sound good and they get the job done. 

Final Ratings
Apple HomePod

Click here to see the detailed score breakdown

Click here to see the detailed score breakdown

The Apple HomePod is S$429 and you can find it on the Lazada, Shopee, and the Apple Online Store.

The Apple HomePod mini is S$139 and you can find it on LazadaShopee, and the Apple Online Store.

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