When Apple’s September event came and went without word of the HomePod 2, many fans were disappointed. The long-awaited upgrade to the existing HomePod would be a great addition to the HomeKit lineup, especially considering the recent changes to HomeKit in iOS 14.
Just when it seemed time to give up hope, however, a well-known leaker with a respectable batting average tweeted: “There is no HomePod2 this year. Only have mini one.” While a random Twitter user may not seem like the most reliable source in the world, user L0vetodream accurately leaked the Big Sur name, the 2020 iPhone SE features, the release date of the Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro, and a host of different features for macOS and iOS.
If L0vetodream is to be believed, there won’t be an upgrade to the HomePod this year, but there is a better than zero chance of a HomePod Mini announcement. We’ve been clamoring for a long while now for Apple to follow this strategy, so we’re eager to find out if it ends up becoming true.
The prospect of a smaller HomePod has been around since a Bloomberg report in April of this year. The idea was that Apple would release a half-sized HomePod at a lower cost to fill the void in the market. Given that the price point of the existing HomePod is one of several reasons it fails to compete with the Amazon Echo and Nest Audio, a midrange option would appeal to more customers.
While there is a lot that isn’t known, a few details can be gathered through educated guesses based on the little information available.
Given Apple’s penchant for aesthetics, the HomePod mini likely won’t look too different from the existing HomePod — just smaller. The company has always placed emphasis on designing products that look great. The HomePod itself is already eye-catching, and the mini is likely to look like a half-sized version of the existing model.
It is possible that Apple might take a play from Amazon’s playbook and include LEDs on the side to display the time, however. If the company expanded on the functionality of the smart speaker, Siri would be better able to compete against Alexa and Google Assistant.
As there are only rumors to work from, it’s hard to make any definitive statements about the final look of the HomePod Mini.
A smaller size doesn’t mean fewer features. The original HomePod had seven tweeters packed inside it, so it’s safe to assume Apple will try to come close to those specs with the HomePod Mini.
As for other features, it’s hard to guess. Apple has filed patents over the past couple of years that suggest brand-new features might be available. For instance, a patent filed back in 2019 suggests potential Face ID and hand gesture recognition.
Face ID would add more security to the device, but it also hints that the new Apple HomePod Mini could support multiple profiles based on facial recognition alone.
Other patents signal features like the ability to display specific icons depending on user requests. Of course, this means there may be an LCD screen somewhere on the HomePod Mini. As for the internal components powering the speaker, it’s reportedly going to be powered by the Apple S5 processor, the same chip employed by the Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 5.
The original price of the Apple HomePod was $350, but it has now dropped significantly to $300. For Apple employees, the HomePod is available for even less than that. The company lifted its restrictions of two per customer to allow employees to purchase more, which indicates that Apple is trying to clear stock for one reason or another.
The latest report indicates that it’ll cost $99, which can be seen as a compromise of sorts. It’s not obnoxiously overpriced like the original, nor is it priced low enough for an impulsive buying decision. If it’s able to match some of its contemporaries, like the upcoming Amazon Echo (4th Gen) and the recent Google Nest Audio, it stands a better chance at succeeding over the original.
The HomePod has always excelled over the competition in audio performance. In fact, that is its main selling point (other than working as a HomeKit hub). The audio quality is such that only the Google Home Max and the Amazon Echo Plus come close to competing. Both of those devices also carry higher price points.
Although the HomePod Mini is still a rumor, the number of leaks swirling around add some credence to the possibility. Apple also announced another event for Tuesday, October 13 to unveil more products including the iPhone 12.
This event would be the perfect time to announce a new HomePod, as well as a release date. Apple rarely waits more than a few months to make a product available once it is announced, so if a HomePod Mini is demonstrated at this event, it’s highly likely that it will be available for pre-order on November — followed by full availability perhaps on November 16 or 17.
Apple has played its cards close to its chest, but some information inevitably leaked out. While a HomePod upgrade would be welcomed, the potential for the HomePod Mini fits a gap in the market that Apple is currently not taking advantage of.
- Apple HomePod mini review: Finally, the smart speaker Apple needs
- The best smart speakers for 2021
- Amazon Echo Studio vs. Apple HomePod
- Google Home vs. Amazon Echo
- Google Nest Mini (2nd Gen) review: Even faster, even smarter