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Apple HomePod mini Review – The Gateway to an Apple Smart Home
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Apple HomePod mini Review – The Gateway to an Apple Smart Home

by May 30, 2024
Overview
Warranty

1-year

Price

RM529

Positives

+ Sounds really good and loud despite the small footprint
+ A good gateway to Apple HomeKit-supported smart home system
+ Intercom feature is pretty handy
+ Does a good job at finding songs
+ Easy to issue voice commands, good accuracy
+ No need to talk directly, Siri intelligently knows which device you're talking to
+ Can distinguish voices well
+ Comes with 20W power adapter

Negatives

- Could use improvements for Wi-Fi reception
- Apple Home app feels rather limited
- Using it for calls feel awkward / annoying due to notable delay
- Touch controls are prone to fingerprint smudges
- Non-detachable USB-C cable

Pokde Scoreboard
Pokde Rating
Appearance
8.0
Features
8.0
Materials
7.5
Performance
7.5
Portability
9.0
User Experience
7.5
Value
8.0
Bottom Line

The Apple HomePod mini is quite the bang for buck when it comes to smart speakers. Ideally, you wouldn't want to just get one as you'd be able to make full use of it if you have at least two, and it will be made even better if your home is Apple HomeKit-ready.

7.9
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Unboxing the Apple HomePod mini

Apple HomePod mini Review -

Apple HomePod mini Review – Box (side)

Apple HomePod mini Review -

Apple HomePod mini Review – Box (top)

Starting off our Apple HomePod mini review with the unboxing, the packaging is a surprisingly colorful black box. The colors certainly make it more appealing to the younger crowd, which is likely why they didn’t opt for their standard issue white box as it might look too bland. Inside the box, we found the following items:

Apple HomePod mini Review -

Apple HomePod mini Review – Box content

  • Documentations
  • 20W power adapter
  • The Apple HomePod mini itself

Specifications

Audio Technology Full-range driver and dual passive radiators for deep bass and crisp high frequencies
Custom acoustic waveguide for a 360º sound field
Acoustically transparent fabric
Computational audio for real-time tuning
Four-microphone design for far-field Siri
Sound Recognition for smoke and carbon monoxide alarm sounds
Multiroom audio with AirPlay
Stereo pair capable
Audio Sources Apple Music
iTunes music purchases
iCloud Music Library with an Apple Music or iTunes Match subscription
Third-party music services
Apple Music Radio or episodes on demand
Radio stations from TuneIn
Apple Podcasts
News briefings
AirPlay to share other content to HomePod mini from iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV or Mac
Touch Controls Tap
Play/Pause
Double-tap
Skip
Triple-tap
Skip back
Touch and hold
Siri
Tap or hold + or –
Volume up/down
Sensors Temperature and humidity
Accessibility Touch Accommodations
Siri
VoiceOver
Home app and HomeKit
Intercom transcriptions
Wireless 802.11n Wi-Fi
Peer-to-peer discovery for easy guest access
Bluetooth 5.0
Thread networking technology
Ultra Wideband chip for device proximity
System Requirements HomePod mini with the latest version of software
iPhone SE, iPhone 6s or later, or iPod touch (7th generation) with the latest iOS;
iPad Pro, iPad (5th generation or later), iPad Air 2 or later, or iPad mini 4 or later with the latest iPadOS
802.11 Wi-Fi Internet access
Electrical and Environmental Requirements Line voltage: 100V to 240V AC for 20W power adapter
Frequency: 50Hz to 60Hz
Operating temperature: 0° to 35° C
Relative humidity: 5% to 90% non-condensing
Operating altitude: tested up to 3,000 metres
Dimensions 97.9 x 84.3 mm,
345g

The Good

Apple HomePod mini Review -

Apple HomePod mini Review

There are a number of good reasons to consider getting the Apple HomePod mini. For starters, you’d be surprised how well it sounds despite having such a small footprint. It’s very bass-heavy, so it might not be everyone’s cup of tea but it certainly is loud and audible. Having it tuned more towards the low ends give it that deeper, rich sound quality that makes it quite enjoyable to use for music and for white noise if you don’t enjoy silence. It’s certainly leagues above any iPhone or iPad speakers, though comparing it to MacBook speakers will be dependent on how you enjoy your listening experience.

Given its price of RM529, it’s a natural gateway to an Apple smart home system. If you opt for electronics that support Apple HomeKit, be it lighting, sensors, routers, air conditioning and anything in between, you can use the Apple HomePod mini to control all of those devices with just your voice. It’s easy to issue commands and it does a surprisingly good job at listening accurately. If you have multiple HomePods, you can send voice messages between them via its Intercom feature. Want to tell someone upstairs that dinner is ready but don’t want to tire yourself out in the process? Just use the Intercom feature and you’re good to go…assuming you’ve set it up in the right places of course.

Apple HomePod mini Review -

Apple HomePod mini Review – You need a USB-C port with adequate power

As I mentioned earlier, you can play white noise on it like rain or forest sounds but you can also make it play all sorts of music. You can tell it to play specific songs and use specific playlists if you wish. The best thing about it is that you can tell it to play songs based on genre or mood and it will do just that. What it comes up with is surprisingly pretty good, though I’m certain it takes into account of what I listen to in order to get better results. As I’m an active Apple Music user, it might work great for me because of it so your mileage may vary in this regard.

What I’m surprised most by the Apple HomePod mini is how easy it is to issue voice commands. As I mentioned earlier, it does a good job at listening accurately but to be able to do so without having to go out of my way to talk directly to it gives me a sense of freedom I never thought possible. I just have to go “Hey Siri”, followed by a command, and I’m good to go. Not gonna lie, it makes me feel like a high tech secret agent like you see in typical Hollywood movies.

Apple HomePod mini Review -

Apple HomePod mini Review – It glows

It’s also capable of distinguishing voices pretty well. It really takes note of who is issuing the command and focuses on it. At times, I may have people around me that are having a conversation while I’m in the middle of issuing commands, and it still doesn’t have issues listening and executing accordingly. Furthermore, Siri always seems to know which device is being addressed when you’re talking to it, as “Hey Siri” will initially be detected by both the HomePod mini and the iPhone, but knows which one needs to continue listening while the other shuts off. This is including cases where the iPhone is close by while the HomePod mini is on the other side of the room.

Also impressive is the way Siri always seems to know which device is being addressed, sensing when an instruction is to the HomePod mini on the other side of the room even when an iPhone is lying much closer. This is particularly clever compared with Alexa – we find that questions directed at an Echo speaker just a couple of feet away are often answered by a different speaker in another room.

If you’re looking to step into the world of Macs but don’t want to spend too much, check out our MacBook Air M3 review by clicking right here.

The Bad

Apple HomePod mini Review -

Apple HomePod mini Review – You will be seeing this a lot if you have bad Wi-Fi

As good as the Apple HomePod mini is, it does have its share of drawbacks. For starters, the initial setup was a pain for me as it has a bit of trouble detecting my 5GHz Wi-Fi connection. It’s Wi-Fi dependent, and how good it performs is heavily based on how good your wireless network is. Sure, I can have it connected to my 2.4GHz connection, which gives better range and wall penetration, but as it requires the connecting device to be on the same network, it forces my iPhone to be on 2.4GHz as well as opposed to the faster 5GHz connection. As my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Air have no issues with 5GHz Wi-Fi, I believe the HomePod mini could use some improvements in Wi-Fi receptions.

Apple HomePod mini Review -

Apple HomePod mini Review – Apple Home app

Next up, to configure / customize the HomePod mini, you will need to use Apple’s Home app. While I have no issues using an app, the app itself feels rather limited as there’s nothing much you can really do here. I expected a fair bit more options that might not work with voice but that’s not the case. Moreover, the app sometimes get stuck on the part of the UI where it shows what music is playing and if you have any alarms set for it. This forces me to lock and unlock my iPhone again in order to regain use of it. I’m hoping this will get addressed in an app update that will be coming in the near future.

While you can use the Apple HomePod mini for calls, be it through Wi-Fi or regular ones, I personally wouldn’t recommend it. There’s a noticeably delay, like a bad Bluetooth lag, that makes it a bit annoying to use. It’s like a 2 to 3 second delay from talking and when the caller on the line hears what you’re saying, which makes conversations feel a little awkward. I was thinking that this would be a handy tool for conference calls involving multiple people but given the delay, you will need a good level of patience to really make good use of it.

Apple HomePod mini Review -

Apple HomePod mini Review – Non-detachable cable

One notable downside for those who prefer using their gadgets over the long term is that the Apple HomePod mini has a built-in USB-C cable. While it’s a high quality, braided type, it will not bode well if the cable or connector gets worn out or just downright broken. What I would have preferred is a detachable-type as we can easily replace the cable if it ever comes down to it. Having it connected to a power source is not an issue, especially since Apple was kind enough to include a 20W power adapter (which also means connecting it to a standard USB-C port on a PC might not be adequate to power it up) but if you have a cat that likes to bite things for example, make sure it stays away from the mini.

Apple HomePod mini Review -

Apple HomePod mini Review – This will quickly fill up with fingerprint smudges

And lastly, while I do like the design and its compact body, the touch controls are quite prone to fingerprint smudges. If you’re using it purely with voice, it wouldn’t be an issue but if you happen to use it for media controls like adjusting volume, you’ll start to see it getting dirty rather quick. I can understand why it has a glossy finish as Apple wants the lighting to shine through, and it serves as a valuable indicator as well. What I hope to see in a successor model would be some form of anti-fingerprint coating.

Apple HomePod mini Verdict

Apple HomePod mini Review -

Apple HomePod mini Review

The Apple HomePod mini is quite the bang for buck when it comes to smart speakers. Ideally, you wouldn’t want to just get one as you’d be able to make full use of it if you have at least two, and it will be made even better if your home is Apple HomeKit-ready. If your choice is between a single HomePod or two HomePod minis due to a limited budget, I’d pick the two minis with ease. However, make sure you have a strong Wi-Fi connection, preferably with a decent router, if you want it to work seamlessly. You don’t need a high end router, just a decent one and definitely not the barebones basic routers that ISPs tend to give to customers.

At the end of our Apple HomePod mini review, I award this smart speaker with our Silver Pokdeward.

Pokde-Silver

Big thanks to Super Daddy for giving me the HomePod mini.

About The Author
Aiman Maulana
Jack of all trades, master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one. YouTuber, video editor, tech head, and a wizard of gaming. What's up? :)