The new HomePod is here, and we've got all the details

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(Image credit: Apple)

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Apple has unveiled the HomePod 2 – the successor to the original HomePod, which was released in 2018. The new wireless speaker is very similar to the first HomePod in most ways, but appears to have been designed even more to be geared towards Dolby Atmos movies and Spatial Audio for Apple Music.

The original Apple HomePod was one of the best wireless speakers on the market, before it was unceremoniously discontinued in March 2021 and the company elected to focus on the smaller and cheaper Apple HomePod mini. 

HomePod 2 key features

– $299 / £299 / AU$479- Released February 3, 2022- Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos support- High-excusion woofer, five tweeters
– Smart home hub with Thread & Matter

But with Apple’s spatial audio-enhanced music now firmly a part of its offering and the recent release of Apple Music Sessions, available in Spatial Audio, a new HomePod boasting support for Spatial Audio always seemed inevitable… (and, to be fair, it was even been spotted in the wild before Apple announced it.)

The Apple HomePod mini is a fantastic speaker in its own right and its small stature and low price put it squarely up against some of the best smart speakers on the market, including the Amazon Echo Studio and the Sonos One – but the HomePod is Apple’s inaugural flagship wireless speaker – and the only one that supports Apple Music’s much-lauded Lossless and Spatial Audio content.

Rumors that it would have a screen or be cheaper didn’t really come to pass, but we’re still excited for the re-engineered HomePod 2.

Apple HomePod 2: Price & release date

The HomePod 2 is available to order from Apple’s online stores from Wednesday 18 January, 2022 – and will actually be released on Friday February 3, 2022.

It costs $299 / £299 / AU$479, which is pretty much what the previous model cost by the time it was discontinued. It’s the same price in the US; the new one is slightly more expensive in the UK, but that’s no surprise given recent currency exchange rates; and it’s AU$ more expensive in Australia.

The price is high compared to most of the best smart speakers – even the Amazon Echo Studio, the most expensive Alexa speaker, is nearly half the price. The Sonos One is similar much cheaper.

However, there are plenty of much more expensive wireless speakers, including the likes of the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin (2021) or the mighty Naim Mu-So Qb 2nd Gen. 

So the HomePod is in the middle of the market overall – it’s just definitely beyond the high-end of what most people will pay for something like this. But then, that’s what the HomePod mini is for, right?

audio visual

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple HomePod 2: design & speakers

The new HomePod 2 looks almost the same as the original HomePod, with its round shape and fabric-covered exterior. We like this design a lot – it looks nice when you focus on it, but it’s also great at just blending into the background when you’re not, because it’s a simple black or white finish.

On top, there’s a swirling colored ‘screen’ (it doesn’t show info, it just shows when Siri or music is active). On the original HomePod, this was just a small dot in the center, but now it’s the whole top, just like the HomePod mini.

The new model is the same diameter as the original 5.6 inches / 142mm, and is nearly the same height – it’s a little shorter at 6.6 inches / 168mm rather than 6.8 inches / 173mm.

The inside is different, even though a lot of the principles are the same, though. For example, there’s still a big four-inch high-excursion woofer at the top to handle mid-range and bass. Being ‘high-excursion’ means the driver moves especially far forward and back, so it can displace more air and produce a bigger, deeper sound.

And there’s still a ring of higher-frequency tweeters underneath the woofer, but now there are five tweeters instead of the seven in the original HomePod, and they’re placed at the bottom of the unit and angle upwards. This likely helps with adding height and Spatial Audio effects when used with Dolby Atmos audio.

Apple HomePod 2: features

There were all kinds of rumors about what would be in the new HomePod, but the second verse has turned out very similar to the first; the features of the new HomePod are close to the original.

That means it’s geared towards music in the Apple ecosystem mostly. You can use Siri to request songs from Apple Music, though Siri now works with some other music services too. You can send music (or other audio) to it over AirPlay 2 from Apple devices, though there’s no Bluetooth or other way to get audio to it – that means Android devices are left in the cold with the HomePod.

It works as part of AirPlay multi-room systems, and you can use one HomePod on its own, or two in a pair.

The new HomePod is geared up for Dolby Atmos music support from Apple Music, including Spatial Audio – it will bounce sounds off your walls to try to create the feeling of the music surrounding you.

And these Dolby Atmos skills will come in useful if you own an Apple TV, because you can use two new HomePods as an alternative to one of the best soundbars – the Apple TV can send all of its sound to the HomePod, including Dolby Atmos 3D audio.

The HomePod 2 also supports lossless audio from Apple Music, for higher-quality audio overall.

It has an ultra-wideband chip in, which means it can detect when an iPhone 11 or later is close to it, making it easy to beam music from your phone to the HomePod (or vice versa) by just bringing it close.

For smart home lovers, the HomePod 2 is even better now. It supports Thread and Matter, which are the next-gen protocols that work with more accessories than ever – as well as Apple HomeKit – and it can trigger automations in your smart home when you’re not where. And it has built-in temperature and humidity sensors, which are useful for climate-control smart home gear.

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Becky Scarrott

Senior Audio Staff Writer

Becky is a senior staff writer at TechRadar (which she has been assured refers to expertise rather than age) focusing on all things audio. Before joining the team, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? testing and reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage. When not writing, she can still be found throwing shapes in a dance studio, these days with varying degrees of success.  

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