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Meet HomePod mini – Apple’s lower-priced smart speaker

A nice addition to Apple’s special event was the unveiling of its HomePod mini: an upcoming speaker that aims to fit the power and magic of Apple’s HomePod into a small, spherical hundred-dollar package. Don’t judge a book – or speaker – by its cover, however, because though the HomePod mini be little, it sure is fierce.

Apple touted the quality of the upcoming speaker’s sound during the event: it features an Apple-designed full-range driver and promises deep bass and crisp high frequencies, as well as 360-degree sound – impressive specs, from a speaker that’s just 3.3-inches tall. And being part of the HomePod line, it also listens out for “Hey Siri,” hooks in with AirPlay and Apple Music, and features that iconic backlit, touch-sensitive control surface on the top of the device.

HomePod mini.

However, the best HomePod mini feature is the speaker’s price. Once available in mid-November, you’ll be able to dive into the HomePod ecosystem for $99 / £99 – a whole lot less than the $300 / £300, which the mini-speaker’s big brother costs.

In terms of the smart speaker market, this situates the HomePod mini at the halfway-point between the lower-priced likes of the Amazon Echo and Google Home, and the higher-priced Sonos One (which works with Alexa and Google Assistant, but not Siri). The HomePod mini could be perfect for audiophiles looking to kit out a bunch of rooms with smart speakers for a more affordable price. Though of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating – or in this case, in the listening.

iPhone handoff.

On paper, the HomePod mini undoubtedly looks great: it supports seamless handoff from an iPhone’s U1 chip, it can easily slot into your existing HomePod setup (if you have one), and if you pick up a couple of the mini speakers, you can set them up as a stereo pair. It’s also environmentally-friendly, too, utilizing 99-percent recycled rare earth elements, recycled plastics, and packaging from responsibly-managed forests or recycled sources. What’s not to love?

You can preorder Apple’s HomePod mini on Nov. 6 for $99 / £99 online at the Apple Store, and availability is scheduled for the week beginning Nov. 16. Let’s hope the speaker sounds as good as it looks.