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Compared: HomePod mini versus HomePod



During Tuesday’s event, Apple launched the HomePod mini, a compact spin-off of the HomePod that costs just $ 99, but is it worth getting instead of the original in full size? Here is the history of the specifications.

Rumor has it for quite some time that the HomePod mini is a smaller HomePod. Shrinking both the size and price of the speaker down to something comparable to portable Bluetooth speakers already on the market, the HomePod mini aims to stand out in the same way as the HomePod, namely with improved integration with the iPhone and other Apple devices. .

The cut in cost and physical fitness should introduce some other changes due to limitations, which may cause potential HomePod buyers to stop for a moment and consider before making a purchase. Sure, there is an expectation of quality reduction given the price, but by how much?

While we all have to wait until the release of the HomePod mini to make a direct comparison of sound quality against the full size stack food, there are still quite a few areas worth comparing between the two models before that time.

Specifications

HomePod Mini HomePod
Price $ 99 $ 299
Dimensions (inches) 3.3 x 3.9 6.8 x 5.6
Weight (pounds) 0.76 5.5
Processor S5 A8
Speakers Full-range driver and dual passive radiators,
Custom acoustic waveguide
High-excursion woofer with custom amplifier,
7 horn-loaded tweeter speakers with custom amplifiers.
Microphone array 4 6
Connection 802.11n Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 5.0
Thread
Ultra broadband
802.11ac Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 5.0
Colors White, Space Gray White, Space Gray

HomePod mini vs HomePod – Physical design

As you would expect the name to suggest, the HomePod mini is small when placed against the HomePod. While the HomePod is 6.8 inches high and 5.6 inches wide, the HomePod mini is less than half the height of 3.3 inches and thinner at 3.9 inches.

The size difference is further exacerbated by a change in shape. HomePod is cylindrical in shape, with rounded edges at the top and bottom to create two flat sides, complete with a screen at the top.

The HomePod mini changes the cylinder for a ball, with the ball-like appearance interrupted by two small flat edges, again at the top and bottom. Again, while the top is used for the screen and main interface, the lower flat part only prevents it from rolling off a surface.

The HomePod mini is spherical, with two cutouts for the screen and to prevent it from rolling away.

The HomePod mini is spherical, with two cutouts for the screen and to prevent it from rolling away.

As you naturally also expect, the HomePod mini is significantly lighter, weighing in at 0.76 pounds (345 grams) versus the 5.5 pound (2.5 kg) HomePod. Although some of the weight loss simply comes from needing a smaller chassis, it is also likely that the changes to the interior parts to fit the smaller frame also had an impact on the weight loss.

One thing that has certainly not changed is Apple’s use of a seamless mesh fabric, which is designed to be both aesthetic and minimize the effect of sound waves passing through it.

HomePod mini vs HomePod – Speakers

An inevitable change is the number of speakers included in the HomePod mini, and there are obviously fewer than in the HomePod.

The original HomePod boasts a high-excursion woofer on top of the bass speaker, along with a collection of seven beam-forming treble speakers at the base using a folded horn design. Each speaker also had its own custom amplifier, and utilized processing on the device to perfect the audio output.

It does not take much to assume that you will not fit all the HomePod speakers in a ball of that size. Instead, Apple uses a single driver with full range with an “incredibly powerful neodymium magnet” to cover both deep bass sounds and sharp high frequencies.

The center drive speaker on the HomePod mini points downwards.

The center drive speaker on the HomePod mini points downwards.

Switching from multiple separate speakers to an alt version is likely to result in a deterioration in sound quality, but Apple claims that the computational sound algorithms will help fine-tune the sound to be balanced at all times. Since smaller speakers typically have problems with bass sounds, Apple has also included power-canceling passive radiators to create a bass extension, which helps create a fuller sound.

Apple also uses a design trick to produce 360-degree sound from a single speaker, which is performed by a larger number of speakers on the HomePod. For the HomePod mini, the full driver is pointed down at an acoustic waveguide, which is effectively cones at the bottom of the device that reflect and redirect sound through the sides.

HomePod mini vs HomePod – Microphones

Another loss in the weight loss program are the microphones. The HomePod recruited six microphones around the device to pick up sound from across the room, with echo and noise reduction processing used to enhance vocal recording for Siri commands.

For the HomePod mini, the number is reduced to four, which is less, but not as severe as the speaker count. Three point outwards for coverage, while the fourth faces inwards to isolate sound from the speaker itself, to help improve voice recognition while music is played via a form of noise reduction.

While there may not be as many as the HomePod, it’s likely that the three exterior microphones in the HomePod mini are enough to do the job of full coverage on all sides of the smart speaker.

HomePod mini vs HomePod – Sound processing

For audio processing tasks, use the HomePod A8, a chip previously used for iPhones, while the HomePod mini uses the newer S5 chip. This is actually the same chip used in the Apple Watch Series 5, so its ability to play and process audio, as well as handle Siri and other features, is already well established.

Going for an S-Series chip can also help reduce the speaker’s power consumption compared to the A-Series accordingly. Although given that both models still take power from an electrical outlet, the savings are insignificant.

The HomePod mini retains a screen, despite its small size.

The HomePod mini retains a screen, despite its small size.

As for what each speaker can do with the sound, Apple boasted that the HomePods A8 had “real-time studio-level processing” to maximize bass while minimizing distortion, mixing direct and ambient sound, having a faster-than-real-time buffer, and creating room-filling sound .

The HomePod mini is also powerful, with it includes “complex algorithms” processed in real time for a “balanced, fine-tuned sound for any volume.” This includes setting models to optimize the volume, adjust the dynamic range and even control the movement of the driver and radiators in real time.

HomePod mini vs HomePod – Functionality

Like the original, the HomePod mini can be used as a stereo pair when used with another HomePod mini. Unfortunately, you cannot use a HomePod and a HomePod mini as a stereo pair together, as you need two of the same speaker.

It is also a continuation of the audio features in several rooms powered by AirPlay 2.

As expected, Siri is also the main interface vector for the HomePod mini, with the usual cavalcade of verbal requests and tasks that the HomePod can perform. Naturally, this flows into HomeKit, with Siri able to manage scenes and control smart home accessories on command.

You can still deliver music by moving an iPhone near the HomePod mini.

You can still play music by moving an iPhone near the HomePod mini.

New for 2020 is an intercom feature that allows family members to quickly send oral notes to each other from one HomePod or HomePod mini to another in the house, as well as iPhones, iPads, Apple Watch, AirPods and CarPlay.

Multi-user support means that individual playlists and person-specific commands are available via Siri, with the digital assistant learning the voice of each user to identify them.

HomePod mini vs HomePod – Home Cinema

Apple made it possible to use the HomePod as a speaker for home theater purposes. Connect multiple speakers to an Apple TV 4K, and you can take advantage of the high sound quality for immersive movie viewing and “directional sound”. What you do not get is Atmos’ directionality, though.

You cannot use HomePod mini as home theater speakers with Apple TV 4K in this way. Where the HomePod has a dedicated subwoofer for impressive bass, you just will not get it with the full-range speaker in the HomePod mini.

However, you can still use the HomePod mini to play stereo sound from an Apple TV.

HomePod mini vs HomePod – Connection

When it comes to wireless connectivity, we are in a strange situation where Apple is taking both a step forward and a step back with the HomePod mini, in different ways.

On a pure wireless network, HomePod does better with 802.11ac support over HomePod mini’s 802.11n. It can be discussed that there is not much need to go faster, as audio streaming does not need large amounts of bandwidth, so this seems to be a relatively ok change in the HomePod mini.

Both models connect via Bluetooth 5.0, and even support proximity-based handover where the user moves the iPhone close to the speaker.

The HomePod mini benefits from the addition of two technologies not found on the HomePod. Ultra Wideband will make it possible to perform proximity-based activities much smoother with devices equipped with the U1 chip or otherwise support UWB, and may even be useful in AR and location tracking services in the future.

Interestingly, there is also support for wire in the HomePod mini. Thread is a smart mesh network standard that allows devices to connect to each other rather than directly to a hub, which can expand the range of smart home appliances.

The inclusion of wire support in the HomePod mini may mean that Apple intends to use it as a smart home hub for other wire support hardware, although it does not depend on the use of other devices.

HomePod mini vs HomePod – Prices and options

Both the HomePod and HomePod mini are offered in two colors: White and Space Gray.

The HomePod is priced at $ 299 per device, with AppleCare + an additional $ 39.

The HomePod mini costs $ 99 for the speaker, with AppleCare + an additional $ 15. Pre-orders for the HomePod mini start from November 6, with shipments from November 16.

HomePod mini vs HomePod – What should I buy?

If we look at the speakers at face value, the HomePod Mini is a smaller and much lighter speaker than the HomePod, but basically it provides virtually the same core functionality as the older and larger counterpart.

A closer look at the top of the HomePod mini.

A closer look at the top of the HomePod mini.

The HomePod definitely has the advantages of the speakers and microphones over the significantly cut numbers used in the HomePod mini. Although we do not know for sure until the HomePod mini reaches the hands and ears, it is highly likely that the original will still be the better of the two models for sound quality.

This is not to say that the HomePod mini will produce poor sound, as it still has Apple’s technical knowledge that squeezes every single drop of quality it can from the limited size and components. In fact, it’s likely to offer decent enough sound for most users, if not at the dizzying heights of the HomePod.

The argument is that if the HomePod mini sound is good enough, you can get it and enjoy everything it offers for a third of the price of the HomePod. That would be a good assumption to make, but you can easily take it a step further.

With such a relatively cheap price, there is nothing to stop someone from buying a pair of HomePod mini stereos, and still save money instead of buying a HomePod. There is even the option of putting more HomePod minis throughout the home due to low cost and small size, while doing the same with HomePods can be too cheap.

In short, in cases where sound quality is paramount, HomePod will be the best choice. Do you need speakers to make home theater sound? Get a pair of HomePods.

For everyone else, the HomePod mini will do the job, and some.


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