Apple HomePod Review – Well, it’s finally here after 5+ years of development, Apple’s HomePod Wireless Smart speaker is here. We go hands-on with the all new Apple HomePod with an in-depth Test & Review and cover all the important details you need to know and see how it stacks up against the competition like Amazon’s Echo and Google’s wireless smart speakers.
Right out of the box things are looking up given the sturdy weight and feel of the speaker and setup took a mere 5 minutes, with most of that spent doing the required phone update. Once that was complete, assuming you’re an iPhone user (Apple requires 5s and above for full functionality) the connection process was as easy as hovering my phone over the unit and answering a couple fast questions such as if I want it to integrate with things like text, notes and to do’s which I opted out of –thanks apple but I have enough of your chiming alerts on my Mac, iPhone and iPad!, no need for another devise making bells and whistles at me! But right from the get-go one thing is clear, this is Apple is unapologetic about making the HomePod a completely Apple-centric device which can be annoying for those of us that actually enjoy options (and yeah, no external input plugs either –shocking we know).
“Apple is unapologetic about making the HomePod a completely Apple-centric device”
Apple HomePod Review
See the unboxing video here:
Build Quality & Design:
This is a strength, and there’s a lot going on that you cant see. Apple went to great lengths to focus on audio quality which makes us happy. The HomePod is less than 7″ tall, but packs a lot of cool technology. It features a 7 tweeter array, with each tweeter outfitted with its own driver, and an Apple-designed 4-inch upward-facing woofer for crisp, clear, mostly distortion-free sound even at loud volumes.
But Siri integrates beautifully with its own Apple Music service, but does not play so nice with others, in fact, the majority of Siris voice features are not applicable to music services other than there own, so forget about asking her to play 70’s music if you use Spotify or Tidal, you’ll have to use your smartphone and connect via the airplay option –and if you don’t use an iOS device you might as well just turn away now. The voice recognition accuracy is top notch and fast thanks to the A8 chip that doesn’t require lag time to “think”, even when playing music at loud volumes but struggles on many basic assistant tasks many basic information requests.
The HomePod can also control lights, thermostats and locks if you choose to go that route, but Apple’s HomeKit is only compatible with specific devices; eg. you can’t use it to control a Nest thermostat. Others, like the Amazon’s Alexa, can do more on this front.
There’s no physical inputs or a button to turn off the HomePod microphone, but it is better about mic privacy given the added encryption security layer. You also can’t make two HomePods into a stereo pair yet, but Apple says it’s coming in the next update.
In short, it’s probably the best sounding smart speaker at the moment –BUT, if you’re willing to forego Siri, Alexa or Google assistants there is stiff competition at this level. Eg. A Sonos 3 at under $299 ea. or an Audio Pro Addon C10 at $349, or even a Bang & Olefsun Beoplay S3 at under $149! (you could do a pair at this price!) can surpass it on sound quality –you can check those links to see our reviews. The Homepod does make good use of its 360-degree array or seven tweeters, so there’s a nice sweet soundstage at just about every position, so it’s ideal if it will sit near the middle of a room. The Homepod also has automatically adjusting proximity capability that adjusts sound levels depending on where it’s placed. I also like that the HomePod has a full rich sound at low volumes, although when there’s a lot going on in the music there are moments when it can lose a little composure with everything from Classical, to Migos, to Radiohead.