Apple HomePod (2nd generation) review

Once upon a time, Apple made an awesome wireless smart speaker called the HomePod. It’s a mid-sized speaker that plugs into the wall, sounds better than most smart speakers, and looks more elegant, too.

Then Apple decided to stop making the HomePod and instead focus on its smaller sibling, the HomePod Mini. Now, for whatever reason, the company has decided to make the mid-sized HomePod again. It’s a welcome reversal.

The new HomePod looks a lot like the old one. It does something new. And — shockingly — it’s $50 off. Should you get one? It depends on how well you know the Apple ecosystem. If you don’t have an iPhone or iPad, don’t bother. For everyone else, here are our thoughts after nearly a week of testing Apple’s new smart speaker.

A better Siri speaker

The second-generation HomePod is a great option for Apple owners who don’t already own the previous model, offering a lot of smart and room-filling sound for a great price. The new version has updated support for smart home devices, including new sensors and features, and is priced at $299, which is less than the original price.

HomePod 2nd generation vs. 1st generation

At first glance, it’s hard to see the difference between the new HomePod and the HomePod that Apple discontinued in 2021. The new HomePod is smaller and has some design differences, but otherwise looks very similar.

Internally, the second-generation HomePod has fewer drivers than the first-generation model—the new one has five compared to the original’s seven—but it actually improves the overall sound. The new HomePod has a better balance between bass, treble, and mids; the original HomePod was bass-heavy.

This makes for a pleasant listening experience. The bossa nova beat on Steve Lacy’s “Mercury” was very resonant without overwhelming the vocals; on Jon Batiste’s “Freedom,” the bass thump was powerful , while the horn is warm and realistic.

Its design allows sound to be projected 360 degrees, and it has room correction software that adjusts the audio to work best in the space you place it.

When compared directly to the original HomePod, the first-generation model sounded muddy and less vibrant. There’s no comparison between the HomePod Mini and the HomePod; the bigger speaker sounds bigger and better.

Apple Homepod second generation review CNNU 2

Michael Gowan/CNN

The second-generation model adds support for Matter, the new smart home standard. That means you can use it as a hub to control non-Apple devices, and it should be ready for new smart products as they arrive. Matter is open source and designed to facilitate interoperability; compatible devices work with Alexa and Google Assistant, as well as Siri. I was able to use Siri to turn on an Eve Energy smart plug that uses the Thread standard, which will be upgraded to support Matter.

The speaker also includes temperature and humidity sensors, which can be used to trigger actions based on conditions in your home, such as adjusting a smart thermostat.

And, if you double up your HomePod, you can create a left and right stereo pair. The sound improvement is dramatic when you’re using two speakers – it produces very wide sound and, if you’re listening to audio mixed for Dolby Atmos, the music feels like it’s right there with you around. (Unfortunately, you can’t create a stereo pair with first- and second-generation speakers.)

One more small change: The power cord is detachable — something neither the original HomePod nor the HomePod Mini had.

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Michael Gowan/CNN

The price of the HomePod has dropped from $349 to $299, a very un-2023 move. One of the big criticisms of the original HomePod was its price. While $299 isn’t cheap, it’s more competitive with options like the $219 Sonos One.

I found that I liked the overall sound of the HomePod better than the Sonos One, and I also like the Sonos Move, a $399 speaker with great sound. However, the Move has the advantage of being portable.

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Michael Gowan/CNN

You need an iPhone or iPad to set up the HomePod — there’s no way around that requirement. To get software updates, you need to use the Home app. You can also adjust settings for Siri on the HomePod, set up automations, and establish a stereo pair with another second-generation HomePod in the Home app. So if you don’t have an iPhone or iPad, skip the HomePod.

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Michael Gowan/CNN

The only way to connect to HomePod is through Wi-Fi. There’s no Bluetooth option, and there’s no auxiliary input. The aux input is especially welcome when using two HomePods as a stereo pair; this setup starts with connecting a turntable.

The benefit of using Wi-Fi is higher audio quality than Bluetooth, but more input options would increase the speaker’s usefulness.

You also can’t adjust the sound. While it has room correction software, there is no EQ. Your only option is to lower the bass (you can find this in the Home app).

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Michael Gowan/CNN

Siri handles typical smart speaker commands pretty well most of the time: ask it to play a song, adjust the volume, or set a timer. But it did struggle to act on my requests at times, and it didn’t have the same range as Alexa or Google Assistant. For example, you can ask Siri to play music from certain services other than Apple Music, such as Pandora and Deezer, but Spotify is not one of them (Siri can control Spotify on the iPhone, but Spotify has not yet enabled the feature on the HomePod).

New Item - 2023-01-18T105912.716

Gifts under 100 holiday apple homepod mini

size and weight

6.6 x 5.6 inches, 5.16 lbs

3.9 x 3.3 inches, 0.76 lbs

6.36 x 4.9 inches, 4.08 lbs


Five tweeters, 4″ woofer

Dual radiators, full-range drivers

Two digital amplifiers, one tweeter, one mid-woofer


Wi-Fi, AirPlay

Wi-Fi, AirPlay

Wi-Fi, AirPlay


white midnight

Space Grey, Blue, White, Yellow, Orange

white, black

smart assistant options



Alexa, Google Assistant, Sonos Voice Control





As a satisfied owner of the first-generation HomePod, I don’t see anything in the specs or appearance of the new HomePod that makes me want to upgrade. But the second-generation HomePod is a strong case. It sounds better, has more features, and costs less than the original.

It’s not for everyone. If you don’t have an iPhone or iPad, or if you primarily use Spotify, you’re better off with a Sonos One or Move. And the HomePod isn’t portable, which may limit its appeal to you.

But if those things don’t put you off, the HomePod will make Siri more useful to you and bring better sound to your home. It makes you wonder why Apple stopped making it in the first place — and I’m glad it corrected that decision.

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