The Echo Pop and HomePod Mini are completely different products. Both are smart speakers – allowing you to listen to music or chat with a voice assistant – but that’s where the similarities end. The Echo Pop is designed as an affordable, entry-level device, while the HomePod Mini costs $100.
But is Apple’s HomePod Mini worth the extra expense? Or should buyers opt for the cheaper Echo Pop? Here’s a look at the benefits of both smart speakers to help you decide.
Pricing and Design
The Echo Pop costs $40 and is available in four different colors (Lavender Bloom, Charcoal, Glacier White, and Midnight Teal). It has a circular shape with a flat front speaker, as well as an LED indicator light on the top of the unit. Behind the LED light are an assortment of buttons to help control the action. It’s a nice-looking device, and its small size means it’s easy to find a spot for it on your nightstand or tight desk. Amazon loves to discount the Echo Pop, and it’s not unusual to see it listed well below the asking price.
The Apple HomePod Mini costs $100 and is available in five colors (space gray, blue, yellow, white, and orange). It has a circular shape, with a flat top that provides various indicator lights and touch controls. Its build quality is sturdier than the Echo Pop, which is what you’d expect for a product twice as expensive. The HomePod Mini doesn’t get price cuts that often, and when it does, it’s usually only a few bucks.
You won’t get house-filling sound from the Echo Pop, as it’s designed for smaller spaces like a bedroom or home office. Our Echo Pop review found that it doesn’t sound bad, but “the mids and highs get muddy” as you increase the volume. In other words, it’s ideal for background noise while working or cooking, rather than using it as the centerpiece of your sound system during a party. It uses a 1.95-inch front-firing speaker with lossless HD, which is loud enough to give you an immersive listening experience.
The HomePod mini, on the other hand, is surprisingly very good at producing clear sound. It has a computational audio system that optimizes its performance no matter what it’s playing. Our HomePod mini review found that the S5 chip does an excellent job of producing crisp audio, even when the volume is turned up.
Inside you’ll find a full-range driver and dual passive radiators, which are responsible for the great sound at high frequencies and deep, rich bass. And since it creates a 360-degree sound field, it’s better at filling the house with sound than the Echo Pop (which uses a front-firing speaker).
Features and Smart Home Connectivity
The Echo Pop works with Amazon Alexa, so you can ask Assistant questions to check the news, weather forecast, or your calendar. It can also sync with the rest of your Alexa-enabled products, including smart plugs, smart locks, and smart thermostats.
It’s a similar story for the HomePod Mini, although it works with Apple HomeKit instead of Alexa. HomeKit doesn’t have the same extensive list of products as Alexa, but you’ll still find plenty of smart home gadgets that work with your HomePod mini. And with Siri onboard, you’ll have access to a robust smart assistant.
Is the HomePod Mini Worth Its Hefty Price?
If you’re shopping for a smart speaker that produces crisp sound and can easily fill a room, the HomePod Mini is worth every penny. Not only does it look and sound great, but its S5 chip ensures that you’re getting the best possible audio out of whatever content you’re listening to. And if you have any other HomeKit-enabled products running in your home, it becomes even more attractive.
The Echo Pop is a great smart speaker, but it’s not as good as the HomePod Mini. Be sure to keep this in mind if you only want something for your office or kitchen, although remember that it won’t look the best as you increase the volume. But for a cheap smart speaker, this is one of the best options.