The latest Apple HomePod is one of the best smart speakers on the market. It offers loud sound, great design, and access to the Siri voice assistant. It also costs a lot of cash – making it one of the most expensive smart speakers out there. On the other side of the pricing spectrum is the Echo Pop, which is notably cheaper and gives you access to the Alexa voice assistant.
But is the HomePod (Gen 2) worth the extra cost? Or are you better off choosing the affordable Echo Pop? Here’s a closer look at two smart speakers to help you figure out which one is best for your needs.
Pricing and Design
The Echo Pop costs just $40 and is regularly on sale for even less. It is small in stature (only 3.6 inches tall) and has a flat, circular shape with a front-facing speaker. On the top of the unit, you’ll find an LED indicator bar and a few buttons to control the speaker. There are four colors available (Charcoal, Lavender Bloom, Glacier White, and Midnight Teal), giving you an easy way to find something that matches your home decor.
The HomePod (Gen 2) costs much more, at $299. It’s about twice the size of the Echo Pop (6.6 inches tall), featuring a cylindrical design with a touchscreen at the top of the unit. This touchscreen also flashes a variety of colors to tell you the status of the speaker. Its materials are much more premium than the Echo Pop, and it’s clear that the HomePod is designed as a luxury product.
Apple has packed the HomePod (Gen 2) with high-end audio gear. It includes a four-inch touring woofer, an array of five horn-loaded tweeters, and support for spatial audio with Dolby Atmos. A big selling point is its 360-degree sound output, which allows it to deliver noise to all corners of your home. In other words, it sounds incredible and gets loud enough to fill a large room. You can also use AirPlay to quickly share content from your iPhone or other Apple devices.
The Echo Pop doesn’t sound that good, although it does sound better than its price tag suggests. It uses a 1.95-inch front-firing speaker, which works well at low levels – but gets muddy at higher volumes. Instead of using it to fill the entire room with sound, it’s best to use it for background music in the kitchen or home office.
Features and Smart Home Connectivity
Both the Echo Pop and HomePod (Gen 2) can sync with other smart home devices. The Echo Pop is designed for Alexa-enabled products, while the HomePod works with Apple HomeKit. Amazon’s list of compatible products is much larger than Apple’s, though there are still plenty of great items to choose from (including smart thermostats, smart locks, and smart lights).
Be sure to consider this before making a purchase, especially if you want your smart speaker to serve as the central hub of your smart home. There’s nothing worse than snagging a HomePod, only to realize it doesn’t work with your existing devices.
Is the HomePod worth it?
If you want a smart speaker that sounds great and is easy to use, the Apple HomePod (Gen 2) is without a doubt worth the price. Its hardware allows it to produce incredible audio that can fill your entire home. You’ll want to make sure it will play well with the rest of your smart home — but given Apple’s dedication to the implementation of Matter, this shouldn’t be a big problem.
However, if you only plan on using your smart speaker in a small room, you can save a bundle of cash by picking up the Echo Pop. It’s not as powerful as the HomePod, but it will work just fine as a way to listen to background music while you work, cook, or relax.