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Echo Pop vs. HomePod mini: which is the best smart speaker?

The Echo Pop and HomePod mini are radically different products. Both are smart speakers — allowing you to listen to music or chat with a voice assistant — but that’s about where the similarities end. Echo Pop is designed as an affordable, entry-level device while the HomePod mini clocks in at a hefty $100.

But is Apple’s HomePod mini worth the added expense? Or should shoppers stick with the cheaper Echo Pop? Here’s a look at the advantages of both smart speakers to help you decide.

Pricing and design

Amazon Echo Pop in four colors.
Amazon / Amazon

The Echo Pop costs $40 and is available in four different colors (lavender bloom, charcoal, glacier white, and midnight teal). It features a circular shape with a flat front speaker, along with an LED indicator light on the top of the unit. Behind the LED light is an assortment of buttons to help control the action. It’s a decent-looking device, and its small size means it’s easy to find a home for it on your nightstand or cramped desk. Amazon loves to discount the Echo Pop, and it’s not uncommon to see it listed for well below asking price.

The Apple HomePod mini costs $100 and is available in five colors (space gray, blue, yellow, white, and orange). It features a spherical shape, with a flat top that offers various indicator lights and touch controls. Its build quality is more robust than that of the Echo Pop, which is what you’d expect for a product more than twice as expensive. The HomePod mini doesn’t often see price cuts, and when it does, it’s typically only by a few bucks.

Sound quality

A white HomePod mini sitting on a desk.

You won’t get house-filling sound out of the Echo Pop, as it’s designed for small spaces such as a bedroom or home office. Our Echo Pop review found that it doesn’t sound bad, but the “mids and highs get muddied” as you crank up the volume. In other words, this is ideal for background noise while you work or cook, instead of using it as a centerpiece of your sound system during a party. It uses a 1.95-inch front-firing speaker with lossless HD, which is just enough to give you an adequate listening experience.

The HomePod mini, on the other hand, is surprisingly great at producing clean sounds. It boasts a computational audio system to optimize its performance regardless of what it’s playing. Our HomePod mini review found that the S5 chip does an excellent job of producing crisp audio even as you turn up the volume.

Inside you’ll find a full-range driver and dual passive radiators, which are responsible for great sounds at high frequencies and deep, rich bass. And since it creates a 360-degree sound field, it’s better for filling a house with sound than the Echo Pop (which uses a front-firing speaker).

Features and smart home connectivity

Homepod Mini Lifestyle Shot.
Murat Çorlu/Unsplash / Apple

The Echo Pop works with Amazon Alexa, allowing you to ask the assistant questions to check up on the news, weather forecast, or your calendar. It can also sync with the rest of your Alexa-enabled products, including smart plugs, smart locks, and smart thermostats.

It’s a similar story for HomePod mini, though it works with Apple HomeKit instead of Alexa. HomeKit doesn’t have quite the same, sprawling catalog of products that Alexa does, but you’ll still find plenty of smart home gadgets that work with your HomePod mini. And with Siri onboard, you’ll have access to a robust smart assistant.

Is the HomePod mini worth its hefty price tag?

The Echo Pop sitting on a countertop.
Digital Trends

If you’re shopping for a smart speaker that produces crisp sounds and can easily fill a room, the HomePod mini is worth every penny. Not only does it look and sound great, but its S5 chip ensures you’re getting the best possible audio out of every piece of content you listen to. And if your home is running any other HomeKit-enabled products, it becomes even more enticing.

The Echo Pop is a great smart speaker, but it’s simply not as well-rounded as the HomePod mini. Be sure to keep it in mind if you just want something for your office or kitchen, though remember that it won’t sound the best as you increase the volume. But for a cheap smart speaker, it remains one of the best options around.

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Jon Bitner
Jon Bitner is a writer covering consumer electronics, technology, and gaming. His work has been published on various websites…
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