Apple dove into the smart speaker market with a focus on high quality audio over all else. The Apple HomePod came with traditionally high Apple pricing but its audio chops and stylish design go a long way to justifying the cost.
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What we love – Impressive sound, unimposing design and surprisingly good value
Google Nest Audio was released recently with a heavy focus on high quality audio, and its main rival (for its size) was always going to be the Apple HomePod – giving it a tough hill to climb.
Apple manages to have squeezed tremendous sound out of this relatively small speaker. The HomePod utilises one mono speaker, rather than a stereo setup, accompanied by seven tweeters and the results are mightily impressive. Along with tremendous clarity, the HomePod offers best-in-class performance at higher volume for a smart speaker. Even the improvements made to the Amazon Echo 4th Gen still leave it behind Apple’s offering.
Apple employs some clever tech to get the best out of your HomePod wherever you place it in the home – calibrating the sound it puts out depending on its positioning on a given room and it really works wonders.
In 2020, smart speakers almost universally ditched the plastic for a more subdued and inoffensive aesthetic – fitting in with more traditional speakers (even if the effect is achieved by fabric). Well, out of the recent adopters of this style, the HomePod still remains the most premium looking of the pack. While others speakers seem to seek to blend in, the Apple HomePod certainly stands out a bit more as the type of tech you’d want to show off to any visitors.
Many baulked at the initial £279 price of the Apple HomePod, with it looking positively ludicrous up against the sub-£40 price of smart speakers like the Amazon Echo Dot 4th Gen. However, the sound quality of the HomePod has legitimate equal amongst your traditional smart speakers, making it an easy choice for the audiophile who wants some home controls tacked on.
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What we don’t like – Siri, lack of audio input and an awkward power cable
Siri still just isn’t as good as Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, it’s that simple. Anyone hoping to have a more in-depth smart home experience should look elsewhere.
The HomePod doesn’t offer any audio inputs, meaning you’re saddled with selecting audio on the speaker via your phone or other Apple devices – you won’t be attaching a separate radio or turntable here.
Unlike most other smart speakers, Apple HomePod doesn’t use a USB cable to power it. Instead, the cable is embedded into the rear of the speaker – making any replacements or repairs, should you damage the cable, a whole lot of hassle.
When it comes to size and audio, Apple HomePod is the best pound-for-pound smart speaker. The design of the HomePod is gorgeous too. However, the price will be a sticking point for most – far surpassing many smart audio rivals.
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