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Apple’s newest product, HomePod, became available for preorder last week ahead of full availability in February. At $349 (£319 in the UK, A$499 in Australia) the smart speaker is considerably costlier than its most obvious rival, the Amazon Echo.

Apple argues that this cost is down to the HomePod’s audio prowess. It’s a great speaker first and foremost, a voice-controlled assistant second. Whether that’s worth the extra money is up to the individual and will largely depend on whether or not they already have a decent audio set-up. But if you’re on the fence, read on…

Early reviews

Though the device isn’t yet in the hands of the public, we’re starting to see reviews trickle in from those lucky enough to get some early hands-on time. The general consensus seems to be that the audio quality is superb; though it can’t compete against a huge, expensive set-up, it delivers full, room-filling sound of a quality unheard of in a speaker of this size and price.

Serenity Caudwell of iMore has written perhaps the most in-depth review thus far, comparing HomePod to its three main competitors. In addition to her thoughts on the sound quality, she also notes that Apple’s approach to privacy is a huge plus over the Amazon Echo or Google Home units.

“From a security and privacy perspective, HomePod blows any other smart speaker out of the water. The fact that it’s also one of the best small speakers on the market doubles that value.” The full article is well worth a read if you’re curious to see how it stacks up against the competition.

HomePod adverts

Unusually, Apple didn’t have a proper launch event for HomePod – even stranger when you consider it’s only been shown to the public once before, with a brief teaser appearance way back at WWDC last June.

Many people haven’t even heard of HomePod yet, and those that have would be forgiven for not appreciating its dedication to sound quality. Which is why Apple has launched a series of four minimal adverts highlighting just that. You can check them out here: Bass, Beat, Distortion, Equalizer.