Apple HomePod

7.7/10 AVG.
RATING

  • Apple HomePod
  • Apple HomePod

Apple's smart speaker sounds great but feels unfinished.

- Jason Cross, Macworld 


HomePod has excellent bass and consistently superior sound quality across a wide variety of music genres.

- Megan Wollerton, Cnet 

Specs / Features


Specification

Wireless
Wireless Inputs Bluetooth
Brand Apple
Release date 9-February-2018
Size 17.3 x 14.2 cm (6.8 x 5.6 in)
Weight 2500 grams
(88.25 ounces)

The "1-Minute" Review

What's good

  • Excellent audio quality with deep bass, clear mids, and crisp highs
  • Understated design goes with most home decor
  • Great build quality
  • Excellent voice accuracy

What's bad

  • Limited voice commands
  • Only works within Apple ecosystems and Music apps
  • No Bluetooth streaming or auxiliary jack to connect with other speakers

Apple missed out on creating the smart speaker market by 4 years, but what they might lack in innovation, they make up for in finesse. The HomePod isn’t the cheapest smart speaker on the market, but the budget crowd has never been Apple’s audience. Considering the huge head start Alexa has, does the HomePod stand a chance?

Looks-wise, the HomePod's sleek simplicity fits right in with the rest of the Apple lineup. Its cylindrical design makes it easy to stash in the corner. The muted beige or standard black color options help it blend into any home decor option.

Don’t be fooled by its slim contours and 6.8-inch height, the speaker is hefty—weighing in at 5.5 pounds. That’s because Apple stuffed it with a woofer, seven tweeters, and an internal power supply.

The weight, and the built-in power cord, make it a little less mobile, though it’s easy enough to pick it up and move it to the next room. But you can’t bring it outside or on road trips without a power inverter or other power source.

Apple focused heavily on the sound of the HomePod. In addition to the speakers, it also put in an A8 processor (the same one found on the iPhone 6) to actively manage sound.

What does this mean? In theory, it should optimize sound quality based on its environment. When placed against a wall, it will notice a change in the mid-bass region and compensate by reducing certain frequencies.

Reviewers were blown away by how good the speaker sounded in testing. It also helps that overall sound quality is its best feature with some calling it “sublime.”

Thanks to the 4-inch woofer, it provides strong bass without being overpowering and clear mids and highs.

Even at max volume, they noticed no distortion. With that said, its max volume wasn’t very loud. The Google Home Max drowned out the HomePod when critics tested them against each other.

An array of seven microphones are always on alert listening for the phrase, “Hey Siri.” In general, experts had no issues with it performing commands. They only ran into issues when trying to use it in a room with multiple people speaking.

Like other smart speakers, the HomePod can take notes, play music, and even control other HomeKit-compatible smart home devices. While more and more devices are entering the HomeKit ecosystem, the market for third-party devices compatible with the Echo or Google Home is much larger.

Siri is also limited in what it can do. It cannot pull information from your calendar, pull up recipes, or set multiple timers at once. Many also found it couldn’t answer as many types of general knowledge questions as Alexa or Google.

The biggest drawback is how reliant the HomePod is on Apple products and services. You’ll need a device running iOS 11 or higher (so iPhone 5 Plus and above) to set up your speaker. You’ll need an Apple TV or compatible bridge to control your smart home devices if you want to control them while you're away.

Further, to take full advantage of Siri, you’ll need a subscription to Apple Music or iTunes Match as you can’t use voice commands to control Spotify, Pandora or Tidal.

And if you’re thinking of a plugging the HomePod into another speaker or streaming it via Bluetooth, forget it. There’s no auxiliary jack, and it doesn’t support Bluetooth streaming.

Overall, while reviewers were wowed by the audio quality, they had a hard time recommending it to anyone but diehard Apple fans. Digital Trends states, “It’s made for iPhone owners who love Apple Music... if you’re anyone else, though, we think the HomePod probably isn’t the right choice for you…” Time adds, “Ultimately, the decision to purchase... should come down to whether you’re willing to spend considerably more money for great sound but inferior voice controls…”

Critic Reviews


PC & Tech Authority

Sounds incredible – but it’s not as intelligent as its rivals

from PC & Tech Authority

If all you’ve been waiting for is a great-sounding speaker that you can control with your voice, and money is no object, then you’ll grow to adore the Apple HomePod. But this isn’t the transformative, market-leading product that Apple probably hoped it would be.

Read full review

If all you’ve been waiting for is a great-sounding speaker that you can control with your voice, and money is no object, then you’ll grow to adore the Apple HomePod. But this isn’t the transformative, market-leading product that Apple probably hoped it would be.

Read full review

Less

iMore

Retina for your ears

from iMore

It's certainly not perfect, at least not yet. There are severe limits to the services it integrates with and the assistance it provides. So much so that HomePod will really only appeal to customers already deeply enmeshed in the Apple ecosystem. But for those customers, it absolutely nails exactl...More

It's certainly not perfect, at least not yet. There are severe limits to the services it integrates with and the assistance it provides. So much so that HomePod will really only appeal to customers already deeply enmeshed in the Apple ecosystem. But for those customers, it absolutely nails exactly what Apple set out to deliver: a speaker that can be placed almost anywhere in the home, is simple to set up, and sounds incredible no matter where it's placed.

Read full review

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iMore

Feels worth the price

from iMore

I didn't expect to like the HomePod as much as I do. And I really do. Its diminutive size, its expansive soundstage, its warm sound signature, its attractive design — I'm taken with all of it.

Read full review

I didn't expect to like the HomePod as much as I do. And I really do. Its diminutive size, its expansive soundstage, its warm sound signature, its attractive design — I'm taken with all of it.

Read full review

Less

Mobile Syrup

The best smart speaker for Apple users

from Mobile Syrup

Whether or not the HomePod is for you will depend on a variety of factors. The first question you need to ask yourself is if you primarily use Apple devices and Apple services? If this is the case, then the HomePod is likely the best smart speaker for you. The fact that the HomePod doesn't work...More

Whether or not the HomePod is for you will depend on a variety of factors. The first question you need to ask yourself is if you primarily use Apple devices and Apple services? If this is the case, then the HomePod is likely the best smart speaker for you. The fact that the HomePod doesn't work with Android devices, especially since Apple Music is available on Google's mobile operating system, is baffling and limits the device's audience considerably.

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Canadian Reviewer

One of the most mystifying products in the market today

from Canadian Reviewer

Music lovers who invest in HomePod are getting a powerful yet compact speaker that punches above its weight class and, thanks to the coming AirPlay 2 standard, has the most advanced way to handle multi-room, multi-speaker and multi-source audio playback.

Read full review

Music lovers who invest in HomePod are getting a powerful yet compact speaker that punches above its weight class and, thanks to the coming AirPlay 2 standard, has the most advanced way to handle multi-room, multi-speaker and multi-source audio playback.

Read full review

Less

Alphr

Brilliant sound, and now with multiroom and stereo sound support

from Alphr

If all you’ve been waiting for is a great-sounding speaker, you can control with your voice, then it’s hard not to adore the Apple HomePod, for all its foibles. But this just isn’t the transformative, market-leading product that Apple probably hoped it would be.

Read full review

If all you’ve been waiting for is a great-sounding speaker, you can control with your voice, then it’s hard not to adore the Apple HomePod, for all its foibles. But this just isn’t the transformative, market-leading product that Apple probably hoped it would be.

Read full review

Less

The Inquirer

Great design, incredible sound

from The Inquirer

The Apple HomePod is, undoubtedly, the best speaker we've ever owned; it looks great, sounds fantastic and it packs one hell of a punch for a 7in-tall device. However, that's not to say it's perfect. Siri still needs a lot of work to even come close to matching the advanced AI smarts of Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

Read full review

The Apple HomePod is, undoubtedly, the best speaker we've ever owned; it looks great, sounds fantastic and it packs one hell of a punch for a 7in-tall device. However, that's not to say it's perfect. Siri still needs a lot of work to even come close to matching the advanced AI smarts of Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

Read full review

Less

VR-Zone

Software seems badly thought out and lazily implemented

from VR-Zone

I feel that the only situation where the HomePod is a reasonable purchase is if the user is already part of the Apple ecosystem, with an Apple Music subscription. The HomePod is a good speaker with an unrefined software.

Read full review

I feel that the only situation where the HomePod is a reasonable purchase is if the user is already part of the Apple ecosystem, with an Apple Music subscription. The HomePod is a good speaker with an unrefined software.

Read full review

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The Sweet Setup

Bring good audio and Siri voice control into your life

from The Sweet Setup

I bought a smart speaker to make it easier to add joy to my home and remove friction from the joyless parts of our life. With HomePod, we hear great music more often and don’t spend moments doing tasks we don’t have to, which is a win in my book.

Read full review

I bought a smart speaker to make it easier to add joy to my home and remove friction from the joyless parts of our life. With HomePod, we hear great music more often and don’t spend moments doing tasks we don’t have to, which is a win in my book.

Read full review

Less

Pickr

More than meets the ear

from Pickr

Apple’s HomePod is a curious product. On the one hand, it delivers exactly what you’d expect out of Apple, with a highly polished product that delivers excellence in spades, and all of that is on the sound front.

Read full review

Apple’s HomePod is a curious product. On the one hand, it delivers exactly what you’d expect out of Apple, with a highly polished product that delivers excellence in spades, and all of that is on the sound front.

Read full review

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