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Once upon a time, Apple made a pretty great wireless smart speaker called the HomePod. A midsize speaker that plugged into the wall, it delivered better sound than most smart speakers and looked more elegant, too.

Then Apple decided to stop making the HomePod and focused on the HomePod Mini, its smaller sibling. And now, for whatever reason, the company has decided to make the midsize HomePod again. It’s a welcome reversal.

The new HomePod looks a lot like the old one. It does a few new things. And — shockingly — it costs $50 less. Should you get one? That depends on how into the Apple ecosystem you are. If you don’t own an iPhone or iPad, don’t bother. For everyone else, here’s what we think after nearly a week of testing Apple’s new smart speaker.

A better Siri speaker

The second-gen HomePod is a great pick for Apple users who don't already own the previous model, offering lots of smarts and room-filling sound for a good price. The new version updates support for smart home devices, includes new sensors and features, and costs less than the original.

What we liked about it

It sounds better than the old HomePod

HomePod 2nd-gen versus 1st-gen

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

Inside, the second-generation HomePod has fewer drivers than the first-generation model — five on the new one versus seven on the original — and yet it actually improves on the overall sound. The new HomePod has a better balance of bass, treble and midrange tones; the original HomePod was very bass-heavy.

That makes for a pleasing listening experience. The bossa nova rhythms on Steve Lacy’s “Mercury” were resonant but didn’t overwhelm the vocals; when listening to Jon Batiste’s “Freedom,” the bass thumped powerfully, while the horns were warm and realistic.

Its design allows for sound to project 360 degrees, and it features room correction software that will adjust the audio to sound best in the space you put it in.

In a head-to-head comparison with the original HomePod, the first-generation model sounded muddy and less vibrant. There’s no comparison between the HomePod Mini and the HomePod; the larger speaker sounds much bigger and better.

It has a couple of new tricks

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The second-generation model adds support for Matter, the new smart home standard. That means you can use it as a hub for controlling non-Apple devices and it should be ready for new smart products as they arrive. Matter is open-source and meant to promote 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 house, such as adjusting a smart thermostat.

And, if you double down on your HomePod purchase, you can create a left-right stereo pair. The sound improvement is significant when you use two speakers — it creates a very wide sound, and, if you’re listening to audio mixed for Dolby Atmos, makes the music feel like it’s all around you. (Unfortunately, you can’t create a stereo pair with a first-generation and second-generation speaker.)

One more small change: The power cord is detachable — something that neither the original HomePod or HomePod Mini offered.

It costs less than before

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In a very un-2023 move, the HomePod’s price dropped from $349 to $299. A big criticism of the original HomePod was its price. While $299 isn’t cheap, it makes it more competitive with options such as the $219 Sonos One.

I found that I liked the HomePod’s overall sound better than the Sonos One, as well as the Sonos Move, an excellent-sounding speaker that costs $399. The Move has the advantage of being portable, though.

What we didn’t like about it

It’s for Apple users only

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

It lacks options

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The only way to connect to the HomePod is over Wi-Fi. There’s no Bluetooth option and it lacks an auxiliary input. An auxiliary input would be especially welcome when using two HomePods as a stereo pair; that setup begs to have a turntable connected to it.

The good thing about using Wi-Fi is that the audio quality is higher than you’d get over Bluetooth, but more input options would increase the usefulness of the speaker.

You also can’t do much to adjust the sound. While it has room correction software, it doesn’t have an EQ. The only option you have is to reduce bass (you’ll find this in the Home app).

It’s dependent on Siri

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Siri works just fine most of the time for typical smart speaker commands like asking it to play songs, adjust the volume or set a timer. But it did struggle sometimes to act on my requests, and it doesn’t quite have the range of Alexa or Google Assistant. For example, you can get Siri to play music from some services other than Apple Music, such as Pandora and Deezer, but Spotify isn’t one of them. (Siri can control Spotify on the iPhone, but Spotify hasn’t enabled that feature on the HomePod.)

How it compares

<a href="" target="_blank" target="_blank"><strong>Sonos One Smart Speaker ($199;</strong></a><br />The boundaries of what makes a device "smart" are pushed every day, and the Sonos One is a prime example. This speaker has exquisite sound quality and can fill a room. This is especially true given its ability to assess the acoustics of a room and adjust accordingly. With two of these babies synced, you'll get a stereo sound unlike any other. It also has built-in Alexa and Google Assistant capability, so it's easy to command your music with your voice.<br />
Size and weight

6.6 x 5.6 inches, 5.16 pounds

3.9 x 3.3 inches, 0.76 pounds

6.36 x 4.9 inches, 4.08 pounds


Five tweeters, 4-inch woofer

Dual radiators, full-ranger driver

Two digital amplifiers, one tweeter, one midwoofer


Wi-Fi, AirPlay

Wi-Fi, AirPlay

Wi-Fi, AirPlay


White, Midnight

Space Gray, blue, white, yellow, orange

White, black

Smart assistant options



Alexa, Google Assistant, Sonos Voice Control

Price $299 $99 $219

Bottom line

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

It isn’t for everyone. If you don’t have an iPhone or iPad, or you mainly 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 brings better sound to your home. Which makes you wonder why Apple stopped making it in the first place — a decision I’m glad it corrected.