Of all the Apple products out there, the HomePod might be the most underappreciated of them all. You hardly ever hear talk of the HomePod, and it’s even rarer to see one in the wild. Still, the HomePod makes for a great competitor against the ever-popular Amazon smart speakers.
But what about the HomePod itself? How does its latest version compare to the former one? Set for release on February 3rd, 2023, let’s compare the Apple HomePod Second Generation vs First Generation. What’s new and improved? And what has stayed the same (or changed for the worse)? Let’s discuss.
Apple HomePod Second Generation vs First Generation: Side-by-Side Comparison
|2nd Gen. HomePod||1st Gen. HomePod|
|First Released||February 3rd, 2023||February 9th, 2018|
|Size||5.6 in. x 6.6 in.||5.6 in. x 6.8 in.|
|Weight||5.16 lbs||5.5 lbs|
|Color||White; Midnight||White; Space Gray|
|Dolby Atmos?||Yes (with Spatial Audio)||No|
|Bluetooth||Bluetooth 5.0||Bluetooth 5.0|
|Sensors||Sound Recognition; Temperature & Humidity||None|
Apple HomePod Second Generation vs First Generation: What’s the Difference?
Now that we’ve outlined these main specs above, let’s take a closer look at some of the most important distinctions. What are the key differences between the Apple HomePod Second Generation vs First Generation? Let’s dive deep into a discussion about price, size and weight, sound quality, and more. This will help make these key differences clearer than ever.
Firstly, and most obviously, there’s the difference in price between the Apple HomePod Second Generation vs First Generation. At launch, the HomePod First Generation was priced at an MSRP of $349.
In the years that followed, the price dropped to $299. This is the same price as for the new HomePod Second Generation: $299. Only time will tell if we can expect to see this price drop lower in the years to come. Nevertheless, it’s nice to see an Apple product that dropped in price between its first and second generations instead of the other way around.
Size and Weight
After looking at the price, the second most apparent difference between the Apple HomePod Second Generation vs First Generation is their difference in size and weight. The HomePod First Generation is cylindrical in shape, measuring 5.6 inches in diameter and 6.8 inches high. It weighs in at 5.5 pounds.
The HomePod Second Generation is a little smaller and a little lighter by comparison. It has the same cylindrical shape, but measures 5.6 inches in diameter, 6.6 inches high, and weighs 5.16 pounds. In other words, it shaves off a fraction of an inch and a fraction of a pound in all.
Is there any consideration more important to a smart speaker than its sound quality? Probably not. But how does the sound quality compare with the Apple HomePod Second Generation vs First Generation?
For starters, the HomePod First Generation is pretty light on recognizable sound quality standards. No Dolby Atmos support, no Spatial Audio, none of it. The HomePod Second Generation, by comparison, introduces both Dolby Atmos support and Spatial Audio. This is included for single HomePod setups and two used as a stereo pair, as well.
What about what’s going on inside the Apple HomePod Second Generation vs First Generation? Though the two look more or less the same on the outside, there are actually a couple of key differences in internal speakers.
The HomePod First Generation is equipped with seven tweeters and six microphones. The Second Generation model, by comparison, drops those numbers to five tweeters and four microphones. You’d expect it to be the other way around. Instead, the HomePod loses internal speakers between its First and Second Generations.
When it comes to smart speakers, sensors are a large part of what makes them so “smart” to begin with. So, knowing this, what kind of sensors are in the Apple HomePod Second Generation vs First Generation? The First Generation is equipped with… well, not many.
The product description talks of “spatial awareness,” but what exactly that means isn’t made clear. The Second Generation HomePod is different. It boasts a new Sound Recognition sensor that listens for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and alerts the proper authorities. It also comes with a temperature and humidity sensor.
Among all these major differences, there are a number of little things that set the two generations of HomePods apart, as well. For instance, though both support stereo pairing and both are equipped with Bluetooth 5.0 technology, this is actually more of an advantage for the First Generation than the Second.
Bluetooth 5.0 is no longer the top of the line in Bluetooth tech, putting the Second Generation behind the curve. The First Generation, by comparison, was far more state-of-the-art in this regard upon its release in 2018. The Second Generation’s Bluetooth tech now seems outdated.
5 Must-Know Facts About the Apple HomePod
- The Apple HomePod lacks the ability to tell the difference between voices. This might sound like a disadvantage, but it’s actually a positive thing. It shows that the HomePod prioritizes user security and privacy.
- The HomePod First Generation uses the Apple A8 chip, while the HomePod Second Generation uses the Apple S7 chip.
- Multiple HomePods and HomePod Minis can be paired together to create a stereo surround sound system.
- The HomePod utilizes its microphones to note the reflection of sound. It then uses this data to determine its placement within the room and then adapts its sound output in real-time.
- HomePod data is stored in such a way that Apple can never read it. This protects you and your privacy while also ensuring the HomePod performs to the best of its ability.
History of the HomePod
To understand the history of the debate surrounding the Apple HomePod Second Generation vs First Generation, it helps to first understand the history of the thing that made the HomePod a necessity: Apple Music.
Designed by Apple to compete with Spotify and the like, Apple Music is a subscription streaming service that gives subscribers access to an enormous library of music and video content. Complete with internet radio stations as well as curated playlists, Apple Music easily puts the tech company on the same level as all those other streaming giants.
While Apple Music is doing a lot better today, it was met with some mixed reviews at the start. Critics and users alike struggled with the interface of the new streaming service. They also wished for a way to play Apple Music aloud on a smart speaker, comparable to similar products from Sonos or Amazon.
Thus, the HomePod was born. The minds at Apple began conceptualizing the HomePod First Generation not long after Apple Music’s launch in June 2015. By June 2017, they were ready to show off their idea to the world. The HomePod First Generation was officially announced.
While we typically expect Apple products to be available immediately — or, at the very least, a few days — after being announced, the HomePod First Generation did not even begin taking orders until January of the following year.
It was officially released in February of 2018, and — like the first iteration of Apple Music — it was met with similarly mixed reviews. Critics and users liked the sound quality, but they didn’t like the price or its absence of third-party features. The HomePod sold under 3 million units in its first six months. (Amazon sells tens of millions of smart speakers in this same time frame.)
The New Apple HomePod Second Generation
After a few years of disappointing sales and less-than-ideal reception, the HomePod First Generation was officially discontinued in March 2021. This move was made with very little fanfare, and frankly, not many people even noticed.
According to insider reports, the tech giant never even had to re-enter manufacturing on the device after its initial stock was made for the launch. Needless to say, despite holding an impressively strong 70% market share of smart speakers over $200, the HomePod First Generation was a disappointment by Apple’s standards.
Apple’s first thought was to simply make a smaller, less expensive HomePod that still retained its same impressive sound quality. This idea manifested itself in the form of the HomePod Mini, which was officially released in November 2020.
Sales were much better, with the HomePod Mini performing better in a single quarter than the HomePod First Generation did in its entire first year. With its various fun colors and its much smaller size, there was still the elephant in the room: the fact that Apple needed a newer, bigger, better smart speaker to compete with the titans again.
With this, the HomePod Second Generation was born. Announced on January 18th of 2023 and officially released on February 3rd of the same year, this new and improved HomePod comes at a lower initial price and an improved quality of sound overall.
Plus, Apple seems to have learned its lesson with the first HomePod, introducing all kinds of support for third-party options across the board. Only time will tell if the HomePod Second Generation will be able to exceed the performance of its First Generation.
Apple HomePod Second Generation vs First Generation: Pros and Cons
|Pros of 2nd Gen. HomePod||Cons of 2nd Gen. HomePod|
|Improved sound quality over 1st Gen. HomePod||Fewer tweeters than 1st Gen. HomePod|
|Lower initial price compared to 1st Gen.||Two fewer microphones than 1st Gen. HomePod|
|Dolby Atmos and Spatial Audio support||Bluetooth 5.0 is a bit outdated|
|Smaller and lighter build||Expensive for a smart speaker|
|Pros of 1st Gen. HomePod||Cons of 1st Gen. HomePod|
|Excellent sound quality||The $349 initial price was surprisingly high|
|Seven tweeters||Lack of third-party features|
|Six microphones||No Dolby Atmos support|
|Eventually lowered the price to $299||Big and heavy|
Apple HomePod Second Generation vs First Generation: Which Is Better?
The HomePod First Generation was a well-intentioned and highly capable device from Apple. While it might not have been met with the kind of reception the tech company had hoped to receive, it nevertheless stood as an interesting move in a new direction for the company.
The HomePod Second Generation is, without question, a much stronger and more capable device than its predecessor. While it has yet to hit stores — where sales will truly tell whether or not the public agrees — there’s no denying that it is the better smart speaker of the two based on specs and features alone.