New HomePod vs 2018 HomePod - compared

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 18
The new HomePod has a lot of new technology versus the retired original HomePod from 2018 it replaces -- but see how it compares before you spend the $300.

Comparing two generations of HomePod
Comparing two generations of HomePod


Apple discontinued the original large-sized HomePod in March 2021 to "focus on HomePod mini." The niche smart home speaker didn't seem ever to reach critical mass, and the high price usually got the blame.

Jump ahead to January 2023, and there's a new HomePod at the same $300 price point as the original. Apple says it has "incredible audio quality" with no claims about whether it improves over the original or not.

The new HomePod ships to customers on February 3, so we won't be able to determine sound quality until then. For now, here's how the two generations compare to each other on the spec sheets.

New HomePod versus original HomePod - specifications

SpecHomePod 2023HomePod 2018
Price$299$299
Dimensions (inches)6.6 x 5.66.8 x 5.6
Weight (pounds)5.165.5
ProcessorS7A8
SpeakersHigh-excursion woofer
5 horn-loaded tweeters
High-excursion woofer
7 horn-loaded tweeters
Microphone Array46
SensorsAccelerometer
Temperature
Humidity
System sensor
Accelerometer
Connectivity802.11n Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 5.0
Thread with Matter
Ultra Wideband
802.11ac Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 5.0
ColorsWhite, MidnightWhite, Space Gray
Very little has changed externally between the two generations beyond a minor height adjustment and the switch from space gray to midnight. However, internal speaker arrangements, sensors, and chipsets have all been updated.

New HomePod versus original HomePod - design

The 2023 HomePod is a few ounces lighter at 5.16 pounds versus 5.5 pounds for the original. It is also 0.2 inches shorter.

These height and weight adjustments are likely due to Apple decreasing the number of tweeters from seven to five. The number of microphones also decreased by two, from six to four.





The mesh fabric is made from 100% recycled materials. The design is similar across both generations, but the top is slightly flatter with a more dynamic touch surface -- the colorful waveform now goes to the edge.

Apple shifted the colors of the dark HomePod from space gray to midnight. That means there should be a subtle blue hue to the new color.

The original HomePod's AC cable was technically removable, although it wasn't supposed to be done by the user. We have learned that the new HomePod's power cord is easily detachable, which is an improvement over the original model.

That's unlike the HomePod mini, which has a non-removable cable that terminates in USB-C and is powered by at least a 18W USB-C adapter.

New HomePod versus original HomePod- audio

Apple's descriptions of its new speaker system don't offer much detail about how it compares to the previous generation. There's still a large high-excursion woofer for the main speaker and a set of tweeters around the base.

New HomePod (left) internal layout versus old (right)
New HomePod (left) internal layout versus old (right)


There are two fewer tweeters, but they serve the same purpose. Background audio and certain frequencies are played through the tweeters to ensure room-filling audio.

Apple says there's an all-new system sensor that runs complex tuning models in real-time to preserve dynamic range and maximize acoustic performance. The original HomePod performed real-time audio adjustments using its microphones, but it isn't clear if it had an older version of the system sensor or if this is a new creation.

Both generations of HomePod can understand how the speaker is placed in a room by using its mics to listen for sound reflections. The audio is tuned automatically based on where the speaker is placed.

Audio quality will also be determined by how well the speaker can process information. Computational audio will be improved with better chipsets, which saw a huge leap from the original HomePod to the new one.

New HomePod versus original HomePod - technology

The HomePod is a complex system of speakers, microphones, sensors, and a central processor. They are all joined together using advanced machine-learning algorithms.

The S7 that powers the new HomePod was released in 2021 for the Apple Watch Series 7. That's two generations newer than the S5 in the HomePod mini and nearly a decade newer than the A8 used in the original HomePod.

This leap in processing generations should have an impact on sound reproduction. So even with a similar woofer and fewer tweeters, the new HomePod is expected to deliver much better sound.

This effect will be amplified when the new HomePods are used in stereo. Algorithms generating Spatial Audio will work better on the newer processor.

Room sensing enables the HomePod to better direct audio
Room sensing enables the HomePod to better direct audio


Apple also specifically calls out room sensing and system sensing as separate technologies, whereas the original HomePod grouped them under computational audio. It seems Apple has developed specific sensors for each system on the new HomePod, but that won't be clear until teardowns and testing are completed.

The New HomePod uses 802.11n Wi-Fi since a smart speaker won't need to communicate on the faster Wi-Fi 6 standard. The original had 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

There is a thread radio with Matter support and Ultra Wideband in the new model for improved connectivity and pairing.

New HomePod versus original HomePod - smart home and Siri

The HomePod has always been marketed as the home for Siri and Homekit. Users have access to most of Siri's functions via the smart speaker and can even ask to ping lost devices.

In general, how a user addresses Siri or controls their smart home won't change across HomePod generations. However, there are some differences in what the device offers in terms of sensors and technology.

Siri is still the primary interface of HomePod
Siri is still the primary interface of HomePod


The new HomePod has an internal temperature and humidity sensor that can be addressed in the Home app. Users can also ask Siri what the room's temperature is or set up automation based on the HomePod's room data.

The inclusion of thread radios and Matter support also changes what the HomePod is capable of in the smart home. This means owners of the new HomePod will be able to take advantage of Matter products that require a hub, and the thread radio will also improve the signal of other thread-enabled devices.

Improved algorithms, thanks to the better processor, also means new software features are coming to the new HomePod. An update in the spring will add smart sound recognition to HomePod and HomePod mini, which will alert users to certain alarm sounds or other noises.

2nd Gen HomePod vs original - pricing and where to buy

Despite many analysts pointing to the price of the original HomePod as its ultimate failure, Apple has kept the price the same. The new HomePod is $299, which is the same price as the original when it was discontinued.

You can pick up the 2023 model at Apple Premier Partner Expercom.com, with the latest prices and availability at your fingertips in our Apple HomePod Price Guide.

Read on AppleInsider
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 68
    I wonder if this will poop the bed like some of the other one and then Apple will saying nothing is wrong with it and then refuse to repair it. 
    edited January 18 williamlondonlkruppJosephAUpulseimagesirnchrizmichelb76cornchipgadgetfreak-apple
  • Reply 2 of 68
    That’s a pretty cool bat sonar. I wonder what it looks like on the other end. Like watching reality tv with bat sonars. I think it’s cool. As long as you always do the right thing. 
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 68
    I really dislike the midnight colour. Black / grey without any blue should additional to white always be the standard, other colours on top as options. :neutral: 

    Same with watch bands. 

    Glad for the resurrection though! :smiley: 
    edited January 18 pulseimagesfizzmasterwatto_cobratwokatmewuraharadavgreg
  • Reply 4 of 68
    I have the original Homepod & it’s really cool having it calibrated with my apple tv box & tv sound bar. What a combination. Sounds super awesome lol. I just ask siri to play a song & it thumps on the whole tv system. So cool. Good stuff! 
    steve_jobsgregoriusmigorskyStrangeDaysAnilu_777watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 68
    Sometimes I really don't understand Apple decisions. WiFi 7 is just around the corner, with the draft standard having been written two years ago, but the 2023 Home Pod takes us back to WiFi 4 (or "n") that debuted in 2009? I get that it doesn't need the speed of WiFi 6, but there are far fewer routers and devices currently using 6, which becomes a helpful factor when you live in an apartment building and 40-something networks other than your own come up under wifi. How much extra could wifi 6 support have cost Apple? Similarly, why not support the latest Bluetooth standard, 5.3, in a newly released speaker, instead of 5.0 from 7 years ago? 
    Scot1williamlondondewmeJapheymuthuk_vanalingamloquiturwatto_cobraiHycornchiptwokatmew
  • Reply 6 of 68
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,533member
    Rhythmage said:
    I have the original Homepod & it’s really cool having it calibrated with my apple tv box & tv sound bar. What a combination. Sounds super awesome lol. I just ask siri to play a song & it thumps on the whole tv system. So cool. Good stuff! 
    Even just a HomePod and AppleTV is great for both movies and music. I'm constantly impressed with the sound quality and ease of use. The temperature sensor is a nice addition for automating heating/cooling systems.
    williamlondonigorskyStrangeDayslolliverAnilu_777watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 68
    Fewer speakers and microphones inside? So it's a tech spec bump and a cost cutting exercise. 
    williamlondonJosephAUsteve_jobswelshdogiHy
  • Reply 8 of 68
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 10,351member
    charlesn said:
    Sometimes I really don't understand Apple decisions. WiFi 7 is just around the corner, with the draft standard having been written two years ago, but the 2023 Home Pod takes us back to WiFi 4 (or "n") that debuted in 2009? I get that it doesn't need the speed of WiFi 6, but there are far fewer routers and devices currently using 6, which becomes a helpful factor when you live in an apartment building and 40-something networks other than your own come up under wifi. How much extra could wifi 6 support have cost Apple? Similarly, why not support the latest Bluetooth standard, 5.3, in a newly released speaker, instead of 5.0 from 7 years ago? 
    Please explain how WiFi 7 would benefit the HomePod. I mean how much bandwidth does it take to transmit a song? Same goes for Bluetooth 5.3. Completely unjustified for an audio device.
    StrangeDaysmacxpressAnilu_777eriamjhbloggerblogwatto_cobramichelb76urahara
  • Reply 9 of 68
    nubusnubus Posts: 131member
    Reissue a product that failed in the market years ago, remove 1/3 of the speakers, keep the price, make it incompatible with the previous version, use a 8 year old CPU, downgrade network to a 14 year old standard, keep Bluetooth 5.0, and launch after Christmas. Why?
    Scot1williamlondonentropyssirlance99charlesnloquituriHyappleinsiderusertwokatmewurahara
  • Reply 10 of 68
    I hope the 16.3 update brings some new features and capabilities to the original HomePod. I also wish Apple would bring a Home Theater feature to the HomePod, where you could use four HomePods to recreate a full 7.1.4 Atmos experience (like Sony). That would be incredible! The S7, and even the A8, would be powerful enough to handle that. 
    edited January 18 Scot1lolliverAnilu_777watto_cobraurahara
  • Reply 11 of 68
    nubus said:
    Reissue a product that failed in the market years ago, remove 1/3 of the speakers, keep the price, make it incompatible with the previous version, use a 8 year old CPU, downgrade network to a 14 year old standard, keep Bluetooth 5.0, and launch after Christmas. Why?
    Likely, because market research showed that the market that did not exist four years ago has developed in the meantime. Most likely that’s due to the other interactive speakers out there and the relative success of the HomePod mini.
    williamlondonigorskyMacProbloggerblogwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 68
    I wonder if this version will be as bad handling TV volume as the 2018 version.  Music is great on that one, but most TV media needs to be nearly full volume to be heard.
    williamlondonwatto_cobraappleinsideruser
  • Reply 13 of 68
    nubus said:
    Reissue a product that failed in the market years ago, remove 1/3 of the speakers, keep the price, make it incompatible with the previous version, use a 8 year old CPU, downgrade network to a 14 year old standard, keep Bluetooth 5.0, and launch after Christmas. Why?
    Because there are Apple customers that are diehard and will not buy any third party products and this is a chance to resell them and keep the costs lower.
    grandact73watto_cobratwokatmewuraharabeowulfschmidt
  • Reply 14 of 68
    igorskyigorsky Posts: 661member
    Appleish said:
    Fewer speakers and microphones inside? So it's a tech spec bump and a cost cutting exercise. 
    Except that the "tech spec bump" came with R&D costs.
    Anilu_777watto_cobraurahara
  • Reply 15 of 68
    entropysentropys Posts: 3,793member
    nubus said:
    Reissue a product that failed in the market years ago, remove 1/3 of the speakers, keep the price, make it incompatible with the previous version, use a 8 year old CPU, downgrade network to a 14 year old standard, keep Bluetooth 5.0, and launch after Christmas. Why?
    I am pretty gobsmacked Apple has done this with those problems above. incompatibility means it can’t be paired with the old HomePods or the homepod minis.it also has all the connectivity limitations if the first model too.
    A great set of product updates yesterday followed up by an insult the day after. It seems clear the announcement was staggered to stop the homepod announcement taking the gloss off the Mac mini and MBP announcements. 

    Seriously, the homepod 2 deserves to fail even harder than the first one.
    edited January 18 williamlondonJosephAUiHytwokatmewurahara
  • Reply 16 of 68
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,511member
    Ah yes, let's review based on higher-numbers-are-better, because actually listening to it wouldn't tell us anything.


    williamlondonthe1maximusdewmelolliverFileMakerFellerapplebynaturewatto_cobrathtcornchiptwokatmew
  • Reply 17 of 68
    I just don’t understand why they went from AC to N. That’s a step backwards. They could’ve just left it with AC. Wi-Fi 6 is more efficient in crowded environments so that would’ve been nice. 

    charlesn said:
    Sometimes I really don't understand Apple decisions. WiFi 7 is just around the corner, with the draft standard having been written two years ago, but the 2023 Home Pod takes us back to WiFi 4 (or "n") that debuted in 2009? I get that it doesn't need the speed of WiFi 6, but there are far fewer routers and devices currently using 6, which becomes a helpful factor when you live in an apartment building and 40-something networks other than your own come up under wifi. How much extra could wifi 6 support have cost Apple? Similarly, why not support the latest Bluetooth standard, 5.3, in a newly released speaker, instead of 5.0 from 7 years ago? 

    watto_cobraiHytwokatmew
  • Reply 18 of 68
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,333member
    Skeptical said:
    I wonder if this will poop the bed like some of the other one and then Apple will saying nothing is wrong with it and then refuse to repair it. 
    Nuts. I still use two paired w/ ATV as daily drivers, they rock. I sold my 7.1 receiver & much more expensive Athony Gallos orbs. HPs sound good enough and are way easier. 

    Love to see its return!
    edited January 18 MacProwilliamlondonlollivermacxpressAnilu_777watto_cobraRudeBoyRudycornchip
  • Reply 19 of 68
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,333member
    Appleish said:
    Fewer speakers and microphones inside? So it's a tech spec bump and a cost cutting exercise. 
    You overlooked inflation since then, so it's actually a price decrease, d'oh!
    MacProwilliamlondondelreyjoneslolliverAnilu_777watto_cobracornchipurahara
  • Reply 20 of 68
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,333member
    I wonder if this version will be as bad handling TV volume as the 2018 version.  Music is great on that one, but most TV media needs to be nearly full volume to be heard.
    Not here. IMO you need two paired, I stream TV content daily and am routinely ~50%.
    williamlondonlolliverwatto_cobracornchip
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