Apple HomePod mini review: Small but mighty!

The newest member of the HomePod family punches above its weight. At only 3.3 inches tall, you will be surprised by the impressive sound experience that it can bring to your home.

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Unveiled on October 13 by Apple, the HomePod mini has "everything customers want in a smart speaker — amazing sound for listening to music, a world-class intelligent assistant that delivers a personal experience to each member of the household, and like every Apple product, it's designed with privacy and security in mind," according to Bob Borchers, Apple's vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing.

So should we believe the hype?

In this article, we talk about the features of the youngest member of the Apple family, how easy it is to connect the HomePod mini to your other Apple devices, and if this is the right smart speaker choice for you.

Let's get started!

Design

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and let's be honest, Apple never disappoints when it comes to aesthetics. Inspired by its older sibling, the HomePod mini is wrapped in a seamless, great-looking mesh fabric with an elegant design, curved dimensions, and a flat top., It's perfect for minimalistic home environments. It's available to buy in space grey and white.

Lights and indicators

Did we say lights? Yes, and we are not only talking about the familiar multicolor Siri light that works on the HomePod backlit touch surface; several other light color indicators will let you know the status of your HomePod Mini.

  • A white spinning light will show up when turning on or performing a software update.
  • An intermittent white light when audio is being played.
  • A green pulsing light when a phone call is transferred to the HomePod mini.
  • And an orange light if the HomePod mini is updating software while connected to a mac, or is connected to a third-party non-rated power supply.

Cable and charger

Covered with the same fabric color of the HomePod mini mesh (space gray and white colors), we find a non-detachable cable equipped with a USB-C.

A 20-watt power adapter also comes in the box.

The bottom of the device

The bottom part of the HomePod mini is made of silicone to prevent external vibrations from interfering with the internal sound system while music is playing.

However, you should think about where you put the device because that could impact overall audio performance.

Specs & Functionalities

Amazing sound quality

The HomePod mini is an excellent device with which to enjoy listening to music. It offers exceptional clarity, deep bass, and crisp highs despite its size. The volume is strong enough to fill a room with sound, even when set at lower levels.

You get a 360º sound experience; thanks to its acoustic waveguide. Sound is directed out of the bottom of the speaker, which means you can place your HomePod mini anywhere in the room without being worried about orientation to enjoy a better sound.

The impressive Apple S5 chip integrated into the HomePod mini allows the speaker to adapt its performance based on the music playing. The sound quality is significantly better than other speakers of similar size.

Two is better than one?

If you have two HomePod minis in the same room, you can connect them to create a stereo pair.

Each speaker will emit to a different channel, left and right, to output a more immersive sound stereo sound. You can even use them to play audio from an Apple TV via Airplay 2.

Effortlessly playing your music

You can ask the HomePod mini to:

  • Play a specific song saying "Hey Siri, play NAME OF THE SONG".
  • Ask for a particular type of music like: "Hey Siri, play relaxing music."
  • You can also ask Siri to play one of your playlists, radio stations, and even the songs you like.

You can also control the volume individually for each HomePod mini directly from your iPhone.

Playing your music is as simple as using AirPlay 2, sending the music from an app, or asking Siri to play the music using voice commands.

Suppose you are using AirPlay 2, and you have several HomePods. In that case, you can easily select from which device you want to reproduce the sound from using your iPhone (whether that is from a particular HomePod or all at the same time).

Are you someone that always wants additional information about a song?

You can easily request it from your HomePod mini, asking about:

  • The artist
  • The album
  • Or the name of the song you listen to
  • If it is a band you are listening to, you can even ask your HomePod, who plays a specific instrument!

It is also possible to control the music playback using voice commands as well. Things like:

  • Adjusting the volume
  • Skipping a song
  • Advance a song a specific number of seconds,
  • or listening from the top.

If you are listening to your music and want to turn it off while you move through your home, just ask the HomePod mini to turn off the music in the room you want.

Hey Siri, stop.

As the HomePod mini integrates perfectly with Apple Music, you can tell the HomePod mini if you like the song being played, and Siri will learn about your taste in music.

Even if the HomePod mini is already playing something, you can still use your iPhone or iPad to listen to whatever you want.

All of the Apple Music commands you use on the iPhone can be used with the HomePod mini.

Hands-off capabilities

The U1 chip, ultra-wide bandwidth (UWB), allows the HomePod mini to detect if other devices with the same technology are nearby.

An excellent example is when you are in the middle of listening to a podcast, and you need to leave home. You can transfer the podcast to your iPhone by holding your phone close to the HomePod mini for a few seconds.

And it also works the other way around; you can transfer the music you are playing on your iPhone to your HomePod mini just by placing the two devices close to each other.

Touch controls

A backlit touch surface on the top of the device provides quick access to common controls, allowing you to do several things:

  • Turn the volume up or down (using the capacitive buttons +/-).
  • Pause or start the music.
  • Move to the next song.
  • Or go back to the previous one.

You can also activate Siri by a longer touch in the middle of the HomePod mini's touch-sensitive panel. It will immediately light up when Siri is listening or responding to commands.

A hub for HomeKit

Controlling all your HomeKit compatible smart devices with the HomePod mini is straightforward and intuitive. The HomePod mini can act as a hub or a controller for HomeKit, allowing you to manage your smart devices even if you are not home.

Things like turning off the lights or changing the thermostat temperature if the room is too cold are a couple of examples of what you could do.

Hey Siri, what's the temperature in the bedroom?
Hey Siri, turn off the lights.

The HomePod mini has inbuilt temperature and humidity sensors; however, they don't appear to have any function. They wouldn't be there without good reason though, so it's likely that in a future software update Apple will probably surprise us with some new features.

Using Intercom to communicate with all family members

It is possible to send a message to all family members through a HomePod mini or an iOS device using Intercom. A recording of your message will be propagated to all the iOS devices within the house (iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch).

Your message can be directed to a specific room of the house too. You can also send messages from CarPlay when you are driving, with the AirPods, or from the Apple Watch.

By default, all the family members will receive the intercom notifications as long as they are inside the house. But you can turn this feature off, or you can change the permissions, so you are able to receive messages even if you are not at home.

Use Intercom to communicate between devices
Use Intercom with all your Apple devices 

Siri power

The HomePod mini integrates seamlessly with Siri.

Siri can provide general information about the news, traffic, and weather conditions; and also translate and measure things like "How many inches fit in a yard" or "Where can I find an Apple store close to me." And much, much more.

All you need to do to get Siri's assistance is say, "Hey Siri," and she will help you out, just as on your other Apple devices.

In case you have multiple HomePod mini devices, the one that will reply will be the closest to you.

You can set reminders, alarms, timers, create notes, do math operations, or get advice about nearby places.

Hey Siri, remind me to get milk at 8am tomorrow.
Hey Siri, what's 3,756 divided by 12?

When linked to your AppleID account using Personal Requests, the HomePod mini can access your schedule, messages, and phone book.

Thanks to the built-in mics, you can make and receive phone calls and enjoy excellent quality conversations.

Communicating with Siri

The HomePod mini has three very sensitive microphones that capture everything you say when you call on Siri.

A 4th one is built in the interior to isolate the song that is being played from the speaker's voice, so it can hear you pretty well even if there is music playing.

Even if you have music playing at its maximum volume, the noise cancelation makes it possible for you to talk to the HomePod mini across the room without missing any of your voice commands.

It should be said that placing a HomePod Mini near to another audio source, such as TV speakers, can cause confusion, as Siri may pick up on words spoken on the TV rather than yours.

HomePod mini internal hardware
Even the HomePod mini internals have a certain beauty

Privacy

For Apple, privacy is vital, and that's why the HomePod mini will only listen if you invoke Siri, using the "Hey Siri" command.

After you are done with your request, the data is sent to Apple using an encrypted anonymous Siri ID.

If you want to delete Siri interactions, you can do so from the Home app.

Siri for the family

Siri is there for every member of your family, up to six different people.

Your information will be safe as Siri will learn to recognize your voice so that no personal data can be accessed by any other family member. You'll be asked to say who you are if you can't be identified when initially making a request.

Each family member will have access to their own information, such as Apple Music playlists, calendars, and reminders.

We've written a comprehensive guide on how to use Siri on the HomePod.

The Apple ecosystem

Like all Apple products, the initial HomePod mini setup is simple. You just need to turn on the speaker, hold your iPhone or iPad close enough, and the setup process will start, just like that!

The HomePod mini will receive all your setup configuration from the iCloud, iTunes, Apple Music, and any other information it may need to work.

Once it's done, you can change any setting from your iPhone using the Home app.

Conclusion

Okay, folks, the big question is: is the HomePod mini worth it?

Our answer is: if you are looking for quality sound and you are already (or would like to be) fully immersed in the Apple ecosystem, then the HomePod mini is a great choice.

Let us know in the comments if you already bought one and how it is going, we'd love to hear from you.


Want to discover more about using Siri, Apple’s popular virtual assistant? We’ve written a helpful collection of tutorials full of techniques for using apps, dictation, using Siri Shortcuts, and a comprehensive beginner’s guide to activating and using Siri.

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