Apple HomePod review

7.7/10 AVG.
RATING
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  • 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


Wireless
Wireless Inputs Airplay, Bluetooth
Warranty (Months) -
Release date 9-February-2018
Size 17 x 14 cm (6.7 x 5.5 in)
Weight N/A
Reviews summary section

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


Gadgets Now

Impressive sound quality, attractive design

from Gadgets Now

The HomePod is strictly for Apple users and it isn’t for everyone. If you are deeply entrenched in the Apple ecosystem, it’s the perfect smart speaker that delivers excellent sound output. As a speaker dedicated only to music, the HomePod does a really solid job.

Read full review

The HomePod is strictly for Apple users and it isn’t for everyone. If you are deeply entrenched in the Apple ecosystem, it’s the perfect smart speaker that delivers excellent sound output. As a speaker dedicated only to music, the HomePod does a really solid job.

Read full review

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TechRadar

Superb sound, so-so smart speaker

from TechRadar

With the Apple HomePod, we're really reviewing two things at once: a premium speaker and a smart home hub. In the former category, the HomePod is excellent, with amazing sound and incredibly intuitive set-up. But in the latter Siri is only middling in its implementation, and the fact that you're...More

With the Apple HomePod, we're really reviewing two things at once: a premium speaker and a smart home hub. In the former category, the HomePod is excellent, with amazing sound and incredibly intuitive set-up. But in the latter Siri is only middling in its implementation, and the fact that you're not able to break out of the Apple ecosystem for many key functions also rankles.

Read full review

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Sound Guys

A good speaker held back from greatness

from Sound Guys

Despite its faults, the Homepod has the potential to be an even better smart speaker if Apple would just let everyone who decided to spend the $349 use it equally.

Read full review

Despite its faults, the Homepod has the potential to be an even better smart speaker if Apple would just let everyone who decided to spend the $349 use it equally.

Read full review

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India Today

Worth the price

from India Today

If you are looking to get a speaker, primarily for music playback, the HomePod is a great option. It is a product specially built to play songs, and that shows. It also looks great, something that you expect from an Apple product, and its build quality is absolutely top notch. But don’t get Hom...More

If you are looking to get a speaker, primarily for music playback, the HomePod is a great option. It is a product specially built to play songs, and that shows. It also looks great, something that you expect from an Apple product, and its build quality is absolutely top notch. But don’t get HomePod if you want a speaker that can entertain your kids, or if you want a speaker to which you can give voice commands to control your smart house. While HomePod can do some of this, this is not its forte. It’s forte is to play music from Apple Music, or through a third-party app on the iPhone. And that it does in style and with an authority that is unmatched.

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The Indian Express

Listen to what you love, the way you love it

from The Indian Express

At a price of Rs 19,900 the Apple HomePod is certainly among the best smart speakers you can buy in India. For Apple users, there isn’t a better choice. Others should consider the Echo Studio too.

Read full review

At a price of Rs 19,900 the Apple HomePod is certainly among the best smart speakers you can buy in India. For Apple users, there isn’t a better choice. Others should consider the Echo Studio too.

Read full review

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TrustedReviews

A beautiful sounding smart speaker

from TrustedReviews

Technically the best-sounding smart speaker, the Apple HomePod is a compact marvel that automatically adjusts its sound based on where you put it. Double-up in a stereo pair and, pound-for-pound, you can't get better. Yet, for all the audio brilliance, Siri lags behind its smart assistant competi...More

Technically the best-sounding smart speaker, the Apple HomePod is a compact marvel that automatically adjusts its sound based on where you put it. Double-up in a stereo pair and, pound-for-pound, you can't get better. Yet, for all the audio brilliance, Siri lags behind its smart assistant competition, and there's too much focus on Apple devices and services to make this a smart speaker for the masses.

Read full review

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What Hi-Fi

Still the best-sounding smart speaker you can buy

The HomePod still isn't perfect, but the addition of multi-room support and, to a slightly lesser extent, stereo pairing has closed two of the biggest gaps in its feature set, and the addition of native radio stations and sleep timers is good news, too. You still need to be a dedicated Apple user...More

The HomePod still isn't perfect, but the addition of multi-room support and, to a slightly lesser extent, stereo pairing has closed two of the biggest gaps in its feature set, and the addition of native radio stations and sleep timers is good news, too. You still need to be a dedicated Apple user to even consider the HomePod, and Apple Music needs to be your default streaming service for you to get anything like the best out of it. If that sounds like you, the HomePod is the party-rocking, musical horizon-broadening smart speaker you’ve been waiting for.

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Finder

Offers superlative sound for its price, but struggles to really be a "smart" speaker

from Finder

If you’re happily ensconced within the Apple ecosystem with an Apple Music subscription and you’re looking for a high-quality single-speaker solution, it’s an easy recommendation. Apple rarely makes its products hard to use, and the HomePod is no exception. That being said, once you get pas...More

If you’re happily ensconced within the Apple ecosystem with an Apple Music subscription and you’re looking for a high-quality single-speaker solution, it’s an easy recommendation. Apple rarely makes its products hard to use, and the HomePod is no exception. That being said, once you get past the music playback, you might notice that it lags behind in smart integration compared to Google Home or Amazon Echo at a much higher price.

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Modern Accessory Review

Very simple, sleek, and modern

from Modern Accessory Review

If you are an Apple user and want incredible sound and some basic smart features then the HomePod is a good speaker. But, if you aren’t an Apple user or use Spotify like myself then there are many other smart speakers out there that sound almost as good as the Homepod and have way smarter features.

Read full review

If you are an Apple user and want incredible sound and some basic smart features then the HomePod is a good speaker. But, if you aren’t an Apple user or use Spotify like myself then there are many other smart speakers out there that sound almost as good as the Homepod and have way smarter features.

Read full review

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Wired

Sounds amazing, looks pretty good too

from Wired

Sure, the HomePod sounds really terrific, and it's a good purchase if you want a speaker that just plays music. But if you want a smart speaker that not only plays music but also adds convenience and fun to your daily routine through voice interaction, the question you should be asking isn't just...More

Sure, the HomePod sounds really terrific, and it's a good purchase if you want a speaker that just plays music. But if you want a smart speaker that not only plays music but also adds convenience and fun to your daily routine through voice interaction, the question you should be asking isn't just, "Does it sound good," but also, "Does it measure up?" The short answer to the second question is no. The HomePod is a marvel of audio engineering, and it sounds better than most of the other smart speakers you can buy for $300 or less. But while the audio quality is spectacular, the smart features—voice control, internet audio streaming, interactions with your other devices—fall far short of what's expected from an internet-connected speaker.

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