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HomePod vs HomePod 2: Apple's latest large speaker does not contain upgrades in all areas

Apple now sells a larger HomePod in Midnight and White colourways, rather than Space Grey and White. (Image source: Apple)
Apple now sells a larger HomePod in Midnight and White colourways, rather than Space Grey and White. (Image source: Apple)
Apple's surprise launches this week keep coming, with the company having already introduced new MacBook Pro 14, MacBook Pro 16 and Mac mini models this week. The trio are now joined by the HomePod 2, which Apple claims offers 'breakthrough sound'. The HomePod 2 does not necessarily contain upgrades over the original HomePod across the board, though.

Yesterday, Apple introduced the HomePod 2, also known as the HomePod (2nd generation) or simply HomePod. Incidentally, the HomePod 2 arrived a day after the quiet launch of new MacBook Pro 14, MacBook Pro 16 and Mac mini models based on Apple M2 series chipsets. While the HomePod 2 looks a lot like its predecessor, there are a few differences to be aware of; unfortunately, Apple does not provide a direct comparison between the two models on its website.

On the one hand, the HomePod 2 is a touch shorter and lighter than its predecessor, with 4 mm and 200 g removed from the original model. Apple has also recessed the touch-sensitive panel in the new HomePod, presumably to match the HomePod mini's design language. Seemingly, functionality is unchanged, with Apple referencing the same five touch controls on the HomePod 2 product page.

The HomePod 2 and HomePod, left to right. (Image source: Apple - edited)
The HomePod 2 and HomePod, left to right. (Image source: Apple - edited)

On the other hand, Apple has overhauled the HomePod's internals. For example, Apple has equipped the HomePod 2 with the Apple S7, a chipset that debuted in the Watch Series 7, which is considerably more powerful on paper than the Apple A8 powering the first HomePod. It remains to be seen whether switching to the Apple S7 will offer any tangible benefits, though. Sadly, Apple still limits the HomePod platform to creating stereo pairs, rather than allowing people to pair four or more HomePods as a home theatre replacement.

It is only possible to create a stereo pair with matching HomePod speakers too. In short, you cannot pair a HomePod 2 with an original HomePod or a HomePod mini. Additionally, it appears that Apple has downgraded some components from the HomePod to the HomePod 2. While the HomePod 2 offers Matter, Thread and ultra-wideband compatibility, it operates on an older Wi-Fi standard than its predecessor. Specifically, the HomePod supports WiFi 5 (802.11ac) with MIMO. In comparison, the HomePod 2 contains a WiFi 4 modem (802.11n). Apple has also switched the seven horn-loaded tweeters with dedicated custom amplifiers for five tweeters of the same variety that are supported by neodymium magnets.

Apple insists that the new HomePod offers 'breakthrough sound and intelligence', so it remains to be seen how these changes will affect audio quality. The HomePod 2 is orderable for US$299 and will begin shipping on February 3. For reference, Apple also offers the HomePod 2 in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, the UK and 11 other countries.

(Image source: Apple)
(Image source: Apple)

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2023 01 > HomePod vs HomePod 2: Apple's latest large speaker does not contain upgrades in all areas
Alex Alderson, 2023-01-19 (Update: 2023-01-19)