Apple's new, cheaper HomePod is a tough smart speaker to nail down. On the one hand, the HomePod Mini boasts impressive audio quality for its size. The HomePod Mini also has a Thread radio that lets it act as a smart home hub, but for now, there are only a few Thread-enabled smart devices available to control. And while Apple's new Intercom feature makes for an easy way to broadcast messages to household members, it doesn't allow for two-way calling. Now, if you're a dedicated Apple user and you've been waiting for a more affordable Siri-powered smart speaker than the $300 HomePod, the $99 HomePod Mini is your best--and only--bet.
The Apple HomePod is going the way of the dodo, as the tech giant recently announced that it plans to discontinue the four-year-old product to instead focus on the smaller, more wallet-friendly HomePod Mini. The original HomePod sounded great, but was hamstrung by its hefty price tag and comparatively limited smart assistant, Siri, which doesn't offer the tremendous compatibility that standouts like Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa boast. Now that it has one foot out the door, you may be looking for a solid replacement. Never fear, as we've pulled out some great picks that can (for the most part) replace the original HomePod without skipping a beat. Here are our picks for the best alternatives to Apple's stellar-sounding smart speaker. The HomePod Mini comes loaded with Apple's smart assistant, Siri.
At Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple unveiled the HomePod Monday, its latest home device. The compact speaker, which is built to be a hybrid high-end music speaker and home assistant, will be priced at $349 and is slated to come out in December in white or space gray finishes. Apple leaned heavily into the speaker's audio quality and specifications during its WWDC reveal. The cylindrical speaker will be around 7 inches tall and features specifications including a seven-tweeter array for directional audio and a 4-inch upward facing woofer for low-end definition. Read: Alleged Apple Insider Says Apple's Siri Speaker, Glasses In The Works Internally, the speaker will be powered by an Apple A8 chip, which was previously used in the iPhone 6 series and the current-generation Apple TV.
Apple's HomePod was a bit of a tough sell when it launched in 2018. The $350 speaker (now selling for $300) was far more expensive than the Amazon Echo or Google Home, and Siri was less capable and intelligent than Alexa or Google Assistant. One thing was undeniable, though: the HomePod sounded excellent. It was first and foremost for music lovers, and things like smart home controls felt like an afterthought. The HomePod took its place as a niche product while the inexpensive Google Home Mini and Echo Dot gave Amazon and Google a commanding presence in the smart speaker space.