In January, Apple launched HomePod 2 which looks almost the same as the original HomePod but features an advanced processor, internal to deliver an improved listening experience, smart home features, Siri capabilities, and more.
Ahead of its availability on Feb 3, the new speaker’s reviews are out, and the majority verdict is that the audio quality is incredibly good but the recycled design is a disappointment.
HomePod 2 is a premium smart speaker, “better than before”
TechCrunch is happy with the relaunch of the larger smart speaker, in comparison to the HomePod mini. The reviewer believes that its lower price will make it an attractive choice for consumers, in addition to its high-quality audio.
It’s nice to see the big speaker back and better than before — if not radically changed in the way it might have been had the company continued to issue regular updates. A permanent price drop to $299 is certainly nice, though the system still feels a bit aspirational compared to the competition — and doubly so for a stereo pair.
I have quibbles with the HomePod 2: Apple Music has its shortcomings, Wi-Fi 4 is ancient and the lack of backward stereo compatibility with the first-gen sticks out like a sore thumb. But the HomePod 2 works well, looks nice and sounds great. It’s going to fit perfectly for a select cross-section of consumers. It continues to not be for everyone, and there’s a part of me that strongly suspects that Apple wouldn’t have it any other way.
The Wall Street Journal praised the improvement in smart home features, especially compatibility with Matter-supported third-party appliances.
The new speaker also has some future-proof technology that might become important going forward. It supports Matter, the unifying smart-home standard supported by Apple, Google, Amazon and others. It can also serve as a hub for Thread, a networking technology that allows newer smart devices to communicate even without internet access. The combination of Matter and Thread promises easier setup and more reliable connectivity. (The original HomePod supports Matter but not Thread. The HomePod Mini and Apple TV 4K support Matter and can also be Thread hubs.)
Engadget deems the new HomePod 2 as a much better model than the first with excellent sound, improved Siri capabilities which the original lacked, and a smart home experience.
Apple has been preparing for a new HomePod for five years, constantly improving both the original version and the HomePod mini. And the fact that the company has made Siri a more capable companion certainly helps. Plus, there’s more smart home abilities than before. Apple hasn’t strayed from its emphasis on the spoken (or sung) word for HomePod’s sound profile, but that’s okay. It’s clear that the company is focused on expanding the toolbox for its smart speakers after their debut, so I’d expect that much like the original HomePod, this is just the beginning for the second generation.
Calling it a “successful do-over”, The Verge states that the new HomePod 2 is a high-quality speaker which will make users very happy.
If you are fully immersed in the Apple world and are looking for a high-quality speaker with hands-free Siri voice commands, the new HomePod will make you very happy. If you owned the original and are in need of a replacement (or if its performance has grown sluggish), you won’t be disappointed. (Unless the idea of having to replace a $350 speaker in a half-decade or less disappoints you, which is very fair.)